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Hornish captures second IRL title

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 16, 2002

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Another incredible finish, another IRL title for Sam Hornish Jr.

Hornish, not content with just a top-two finish that would have given him the title, went side-by-side with Helio Castroneves in an electrifying finish and won the Chevy 500 on Sunday.

After the two battled over the last 35 laps, Hornish crossed the finish line .0096 seconds -- a few inches -- ahead of Castroneves to win the season-ending race.

"It was a tough race all the way down to the end. Helio didn't want to lose and I didn't want to lose. We were both pushing hard," Hornish said. "There is no better way to win a championship other than to win two races in a row."

The only closer finish was a week earlier at Chicagoland Speedway when Hornish beat Al Unser Jr. by .0024 seconds to retake the points lead.

Hornish won his IRL-record fifth race of the season, and the 23-year-old driver became the first on the 7-year-old circuit to win the championship twice.

Officially, Hornish and Castroneves traded the lead six times over the final 35 laps. But they seemed continually attached, except when passing lapped cars in traffic, until the finish.

"That was incredible. It couldn't be more exciting," Castroneves said. "We raced with each other all the way through until the last lap. Like I said, it was going to be the last lap on this last track. What a fantastic finish."

Before Hornish won the season finale last year, he already had the season title in hand. This year, he came into the last race with just a 12-point lead over Castroneves.

Had Castroneves overtaken Hornish at the finish, the two would have been tied for the season title. But Hornish would have been the champion because he would have had one more win.

Also, Laurent Redon won rookie of the year honors with his 10th-place finish.

ITALIAN GRAND PRIX: Rubens Barrichello and teammate Michael Schumacher transformed the Formula One race into a showcase for Ferrari.

Barrichello led Schumacher across the finish line, giving Ferrari a 1-2 finish at the Monza circuit, amid a boisterous celebration by the home fans.

Barrichello won his third race of the season and fourth of his career, and Ferrari claimed its 13th victory in 15 races.

Schumacher, the five-time series champion and 10-time winner this season, reached the podium for the 15th consecutive race.

LUCAS OIL NATIONALS: Rain postponed the NHRA event at Maple Grove Raceway, with the final eliminations pushed back to today.

The start of eliminations was delayed nearly two hours before the first round of Top Fuel was completed. Midway through the opening round of Funny Car eliminations the rains resumed, forcing NHRA officials to postpone.

EAST BAY RACEWAY: Keith Nosbisch held off his younger brother, 2002 track champion Jack Nosbisch Jr., to win the second leg of the Mr. Bud series for late models. Greg Leonard won in sprints, Forrest Gough captured the limited late models, former track champion Don Gansner was victorious in street stocks, and Scotty Williams was the mini stocks winner.

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