Fan Awards: Best Finish

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RacingOne continues our annual "Fan Awards" with a look back at some of the Best Finishes of the 2006 season.

While there were many contenders in this particular category, there was one definite clear cut winner which will be talked about many years from now – and that was the finish of the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500.

After 196 laps of heart pounding action with numerous lead changes and heartbreaks for top contenders, it came down to a four lap shootout amongst three drivers for the victory in the crown jewel event of the IRL IndyCar Series season – Sam Hornish Jr., rookie Marco Andretti and race leader Michael Andretti. While the elder Andretti pulled away at the beginning of the shootout, all thoughts of a magical victory were dashed when his son and Hornish passed him with only two laps remaining.

The 19-year-old third generation driver stayed in the lead through lap 198 and during the majority of lap 199 – despite a challenge from Hornish in Turn 3 that almost led to last lap crash – but it was not to be on that day as the Penske Racing driver was able to compose himself and make a last second pass on Andretti in the final straightaway of the race. In the end, Hornish won the event by the slim margin of just 0.0635 of a second – the second closest finish in the history of the event.

"I almost won this thing," Marco Andretti said. "I could have been really bad at blocking but that might have crashed us both. I just thought if I blocked him, defended my line once, I had it.

"Any other car out here I think I would have had it."

With the momentum gained at Indianapolis, Hornish went on to claim his third career IndyCar Series championship this season. For his part, Marco Andretti went on to score a victory in his freshman campaign (Infineon) and finished the season as the Bombardier Rookie of the Year.

Other candidates in this category included; Jimmie Johnson holding off Matt Kenseth to the line at Las Vegas (NEXTEL Cup), David Gilliland holding off J.J. Yeley and the rest of the “Buschwackers” at Kentucky (Busch Series), Michael Schumacher using keen pit strategy and a daring pass through the grass on Giancarlo Fisichella to tie the championship in the Grand Prix of China (Formula One), Sebastien Bourdais punting leader Justin Wilson out of the way on the last lap of the Gran Premio de Mexico (Champ Car), and of course, Brian Vickers "accidentally bumping" teammate Jimmie Johnson into race leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. during the closing laps of the UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega Superspeedway to win his first career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race.

Fan Vote
Do you agree or disagree with RacingOne's selection? Here's your chance to cast your vote for the 2006 RacingOne Fan Awards. Just visit the Message Boards or email (jeff@racingone.com) to make your selection. Over the next two weeks RacingOne will have a different daily category culminating with the Award winners on Dec. 22nd. Note: Selections are limited just to the series' RacingOne covers.

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