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Wheldon wins, Hornish champion at Chicagoland.

Sam Hornish Jr clinched his third IRL Indycar title on a tie-breaker after conceding victory in the final round of the season at Chicagoland to outgoing king Dan Wheldon.

The Marlboro Team Penske driver finished third behind a Target Chip Ganassi one-two of Wheldon and Scott Dixon, but his superior win record this season allowed him to defeat the Brit on count-back after the pair ended the campaign tied on points. Wheldon did everything he could in the race and picked up an extra three points for leading the most laps - 166 of the 200 - but Hornish knew all he had to do was sit behind the Ganassi pair and the crown would be his.

The American thus becomes the second consecutive driver to win both the Indy 500 and IRL championship in the same season, following Wheldon's dual success in 2005.

Once again the race was all about the Penske and Ganassi teams, with the latter seeming to have a slight edge around the 1.5-mile oval. No other driver even finished on the same lap as the leading quartet, a fitting tribute to a season they have completely made their own.

Wheldon, Hornish, Dixon and Helio Castroneves – the only four contenders for the title – ran at the front of the field all day, with 20 changes for the lead during 200 laps of enthralling, nail-biting action in what was the third-fastest race in IRL history.

Little over two tenths of a second separated the top three at the flag, with Castroneves a mere two seconds further back in fourth. Ed Carpenter finally emerged as 'best of the rest' a lap down in fifth place for the highest finish of his IRL career, with Vitor Meira, Tony Kanaan, Jeff Simmons, Scott Sharp and Tomas Scheckter completing the top ten.

It could all have ended so differently after team-mates Wheldon and Dixon nearly came to grief with an early brush and a spot of wheel-banging late on. They held on, though, to claim a one-two finish meaning Wheldon both started and ended the season with a victory and claimed his second consecutive win in Chicago.

The Brit will no doubt point to errors earlier in the season for his failure to retain his crown, his first having been won with Andretti Green Racing last season. He and Hornish ended the year tied on 475 points, but the American's four-win tally was double that of his rival which handed him the title, his third after two clinched with Panther Racing in 2001 and 2002.

Penske team-mate Helio Castroneves finished the season third just two points adrift, but saw his championship ambitions disappear with fourth on the road in Chicago, while Dixon finished fourth overall having had the most to do heading into the finale.



Related Pictures

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Indy 500 May 28, 2006. Indianapolis, In. Race winner, Sam Hornish.
Sam Hornish Jr.
Dan Wheldon, Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara-Honda, Homestead spring training 2006.
Dan Wheldon Memorial Pro-Am Karting logo
The crowd remembers a fallen hero while watching the Pocono IndyCar 400 at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, July 7 2013. (Photo Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Honorary starter Susie Wheldon waves the green flag for the start of the Honda Grand Prix of St Petersburg - Sunday, March 24 2013. (Photo Credit: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves celebrates victory in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 25 2012, and salutes Dan Wheldon. [Photo Credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA (c) 2012, Scott LePage. LAT Photo]
Dan Wheldon takes the #77 out on track at Kentucky. [Picture Credit: IndyCar Media]
The stage set for the memorial celebration. [Picture Credit: IndyCar Media]
Dan Wheldon at a press conference ahead of the Las Vegas race. [Picture Credit: IndyCar Media]
Dan Wheldon in pit lane at Vegas. [Picture Credit: IndyCar Media]
F1 ace Jenson Button in action at Dan Wheldon memorial kart event
All-star cast at Dan Wheldon memorial kart event
Dan Wheldon`s family with star drivers at memorial kart event
Dan Wheldon at the wheel of the 2012 IndyCar Safety Cell during summer testing of the new chassis at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. [Photo credit: Walt Kuhn]
The scene at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis before the public memorial service for Dan Wheldon. [Photo Credit: Walt Kuhn for LAT/IndyCar Media]
Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan and Bryan Herta, Dan Wheldon`s Andretti-Green Racing team mates in 2005 when he won the IndyCar championship - showing off the rings he gave them to mark the achievement. [Photo credit: Daniel Incandela for IndyCar Media]
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard addresses the memorial service, surrounded by some of the trophies that Dan Wheldon had won in IndyCar. [Photo credit: Daniel Incandela for IndyCar Media]

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