Already crowned as the 2004 Menards Infiniti Pro Series champion, Thiago Medeiros rounded out a triumphant year by adding a record-breaking sixth victory of the season at Texas Motor Speedway.
Beginning with four in a row, and adding top-ten finishes in the other six events, Medeiros clinched the series title two weeks ago at Fontana, but was determined to give the Sam Schmidt team a victorious end to the season before launching into his personal celebrations.
Starting from his eight pole of the year, Medeiros led all 67 laps of the Fort Worth facility to beat Schmidt team-mate Travis Gregg to the flag by just 0.0562secs – the fourth-closest finish in series history. A late race yellow, which flew for debris on lap 61, allowed Gregg right on to the tail of the Brazilian, but Medeiros had just enough in hand to hold on. He stayed low while Gregg tried to pass on the high side, but the American came up short as he tried a last gasp dash for the line.
"This means a lot - it's the best way to win a championship," Medeiros said of his victory, "It was a really good race. I was just looking in my mirrors and going by my mirrors. Everybody was really close, but I just kept on the bottom of the track.
"Everything went really well, and Sam Schmidt Motorsports did a good job. It's great for the team. We had a great car, and we did a good job."
"I was expecting it to be a little more dicey, but we played it kind of smart," Gregg said in response, "I was just waiting for my time to get a good enough run - and ended up second. I was heading down the backstretch on the final lap, easing on the throttle, hoping to get a good run and pass on the high line. It didn't happen today, but we're happy with second."
Al Unser used a lap 64 pass to finish third once again, moving ahead of third-place starter Arie Luyendyk after starting from the inside of row three.
"I think after that second restart, either Thiago didn't shift up to his next highest gear or he hit the limiter," the youngster reported, "I think Travis hit the limiter too and Arie had no choice but to get off the power. And I was already on the outside of him, so my momentum just carried through."
PJ Chesson took fifth, but there was bad news for brother James - who had won last time out in California - who was eliminated as part of a five-car pile-up in the opening laps. Paul Dana got it wrong in turn four, leaving little room for Chesson, Leonardo Maia, Gary Peterson and Ryan Hampton to avoid the melee.
"When you're playing with the squirrels in the back of the pack, you're going to get your nuts cracked," Chesson said, "It all happened so quickly. Dana was right in front of me when he spun, and I had nowhere to go."
All five drivers were reported uninjured after visiting the medical centre.