Sam Hornish Jr's win at California Speedway on Sunday has set up a five-driver Texas Shootout for the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series Championship next month, confirming the reigning champion in the mix with four interlopers for his crown.

Hornish Jr has won three of the past four IndyCar Series races, pulling to within 19 points of the championship lead, and will be trying for the series championship 'three-peat' at Texas in three weeks' time. Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon come to Texas tied for the series points lead.

When the chequered flag falls on the Chevy 500k, a new series champion will be crowned, but, for 200 laps on that Championship Sunday, the five drivers in the title hunt will be side-by-side, battling to decide the closest championship points race in years.

"Some of the best open-wheel racing in America has come in our two IndyCar Series races here at Texas Motor Speedway," speedway general manager Eddie Gossage said, "The Chevy 500k has become a thrilling way to cap off an exciting season-long battle in the series, and this year's close competition coming into this last race has all the ingredients for another breathtaking finish at the chequered flag."

Castroneves and Dixon are tied for the IndyCar Series championship lead with 467 points, while early-season points leader Tony Kanaan is third, just seven points back. Hornish is 19 points off the pace but closing steadily, while, finally, Gil de Ferran is 30 points out of the lead but still holding slim hopes of a crown with which to retire.

"The good news is that we're going into the final race tied for the lead in the championship," the Brazilian's Penske team-mate Castroneves pointed out, "There are five guys in the championship race, so Texas will be very exciting for everyone. I have a feeling that it will come down to the final lap of the season, and may the best man win."

Dixon narrowly missed an on-track incident with Kanaan in the California race on Sunday, but managed to finish second to Hornish, pulling into a share of the points lead with Castroneves.

"The guys that we are competing against are the best and, like they say 'to be the best, you have to beat the best'," the Kiwi stressed, "Hopefully, we can go to Texas and see if we can pick up some more points. It is good for the championship."

Kanaan is finishing his first season in the IndyCar Series driving for Andretti Green Racing. With the championship so close, he can feel the excitement of it all coming down to one last dash at Texas Motor Speedway.

"I've certainly competed for championships before, but this is the biggest championship I've ever competed for," the Brazilian said, "This is the top, this is everything I've ever dreamed of. Three more weeks to work on the engine, three more weeks to work on the car, and we'll get it. We'll get them in Texas."

Hornish has had the car to beat as of late, as witnessed by his surge of victories down the stretch since getting his hands on the new Chevy Gen IV engine. Remaining in the championship hunt coming to Texas is all the incentive he needs.

"We're going to give it everything we've got," the champion said, "It's really shaped up to be a tremendous championship battle. I think the fans that come to the Texas race are going to get one heck of an experience. I've said it before, but I think there are only five guys that are capable of winning. It's going to be a heck of a battle throughout that Texas race."

Indianapolis 500 winner de Ferran is retiring from open-wheel driving at the conclusion of the Chevy 500k at Texas Motor Speedway and remains mathematically in the hunt for the title.

"It would be great to win the championship this year, so that I could literally end my career at the top," he said, "Certainly, we're a long shot for the title now, so we'll have to depend on everyone else's results. But Marlboro Team Penske is still in the hunt, and we'll do everything we can in Texas to get the job done."

 

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