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Hornish sneaks Phoenix win.

Sam Hornish Jr used a late fuel only pitstop to out-guile a dominant Andretti-Green Racing team and record his second IRL IndyCar Series victory at the one-mile Phoenix International Raceway.

The double IRL Champ took the chequered flag ahead of his Marlboro Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves and defending series Champion Tony Kanaan after an exciting, closely fought race in which the two main IRL powerhouses, Penske and Andretti-Green, were dominant.

Nearing the end of an 80 lap green flag run that saw the two Penske teammates play second-fiddle to AGR's Dario Franchitti, Hornish and Castroneves added fuel only during a late round of green flag stops, whereas Franchitti took four tyres.

Tomas Scheckter's brush with the turn four wall on lap 191 of 200, brought out the fourth and final caution flag of the day just as new leader Hornish was coming under severe pressure from the previously dominant Franchitti with Castroneves just a couple of lengths back, but with the lapped car of early race leader Dan Wheldon separating him from the Scotsman.

The yellow kept things close, albeit artificially, and by the time the Panther Racing Dallara was removed just two laps remained.

Franchitti, who initially passed the initially dominant Wheldon for the lead on lap 72, had withstood the best the two Penske teammates could throw at him on the track after regaining the lead on lap 130. Prior to this Franchitti had to fight his way back through the field after coming to pit road under green flag conditions for a scheduled stop, only to drive straight through pit road as the caution flag suddenly waved.

Knowing that the restart was the best place to make a move for the lead, Franchitti took a peek at the outside line in turn one as the green flag waved as Hornish predictably clung to the low line. The move was a mistake, as Franchitti's Dallara-Honda washed towards the outside wall, kissing it gently as Hornish continued unabated.

With Castroneves momentarily trapped behind Wheldon, Hornish was untroubled over the final tour to score his first series win since the 2004 season-opener at Homestead and move into the points lead.

Behind Castroneves, who took the lead with a quick yellow flag pitstop just after the 80 lap mark and then lost it to Hornish 40 laps later on another restart after a lap of side by side racing, Tony Kanaan extended his record top five finishing streak with a hard fought podium finish.

Related Pictures

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Helio Castroneves 2017 Indy 500 practice
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Simon Pagenaud (Team Penske) celebrates winning the 2016 IndyCar title with victory at Sonoma   [pic credit: Chris Owens]
Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens]
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Will Power - Team Penske   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Jones]
Will Power - Team Penske   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Jones]
Will Power - Team Penske   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Simon Penske - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar media/Bret Kelley]
Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Joe Skibinski]
Will Power - Penske  [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Jones]

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