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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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Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6 wins the P1 Award Saturday, April 11, 2015 for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Louisiana at NOLA Motorsports Park in Avondale, Louisiana. Montoya will start on the pole for the race, based on entrant points as lightning halted qualifying before its completion. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
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Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6 attempts to qualify in the rain Saturday, April 11, 2015 for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Louisiana at NOLA Motorsports Park in Avondale, Louisiana. Montoya will start on the pole for the race, based on entrant points as lightning halted qualifying before its completion. (Photo by Scott R. LePage/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power (left), driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6; and Tony Kanaan (right), driver of the #10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6; celebrate with Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, who raced to victory Sunday, March 29, 2015 winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. Power finished second. Kanaan finished third. Chevrolet took the top six places in the first race of the season. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)

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