It was Cheever's fifth career IRL win and only the second for the Infiniti Indy engine
Cheever wins IRL race before 75,000 at Kansas Speedway

KANSAS CITY, Kansas, July 8 (AFP) - Eddie Cheever won a battle of two of the Indy Racing League's fiercest warriors Sunday, defeating Sam Hornish by 0.198 seconds at the Ameristar Casino Indy 200 at Kansas Speedway.

Cheever led seven times for 104 laps and passed Hornish for the lead in the third turn of the 198th lap. Two laps later, Cheever took the checkered flag in front of a sellout crowd of more than 75,000 at the new 1 1/2-mile facility.

It was Cheever's fifth career IRL win and only the second for the Infiniti Indy engine.

"We worked very hard with Infiniti for the last three years and it's been fun and a struggle," Cheever said. "I had an advantage today and it wasn't superior driving skill, it was the Infiniti engine in my car. My engine ran impeccably and everything was perfect. It was one of those days you want to have happen more often but don't."

It was Hornish's third straight runner-up finish, although he continues to lead the IRL standings by 60 points over Buddy Lazier.

Hornish, 21, and Cheever, 43, battled throughout, giving the huge crowd plenty of high-speed excitement.

"As far as Sam Hornish jnr, I'll race him anywhere, anytime," Cheever said. "He gave me a lot of room. That's the way I think the IRL should be run. Sam and I went back and forth. Sam is very talented and he is fair."

Donnie Beechler was third in a car owned by A.J. Foyt and was followed by rookie Felipe Giaffone and Lazier, the defending IRL champion.

There were a season-high 20 lead changes among eight drivers.

"You had to be a lot quicker than the guy in front to get around him," Beechler said. "If you were a little bit quicker, that would get you beside him, but you would lose him in the turns. You had to be 2-3 miles an hour faster than the other driver to get in front of him."

Hornish tried to pass Cheever heading to the checkered flag but fell short.

"When I was coming up behind Eddie, there was some water leaking out from the bottom of my car and spraying up on my car and I didn't want to be behind him if the engine blew," Hornish said. "In hindsight, I think I did the right thing. We'll take another second-place finish and build on that points lead.

"It was fun racing with Eddie all day long. There was a lot of side-by-side racing. He gave me room and I gave him room, and so did Donnie Beechler. It's fun to go out there and race against guys like that who you know are not going to put you into the wall. It was clean racing."

Hornish overcame a mistake in the pits when he stalled the car on his last pit stop but was able to rally back to the lead when he passed Cheever in the third turn with nine laps left. But Cheever was determined not to finish second, passing Hornish with a little over two laps remaining.

Although Scott Sharp started on the pole, it was Chile's Eliseo Salazar who led the first lap when he passed Sharp coming out of the fourth turn. Salazar was in front when the first caution flag waved on lap 16 after Billy Roe's engine blew.

Cheever took the lead for the first time when he passed Salazar on lap 33. Hornish took the lead for the first time when he passed Cheever in the first turn on the 47th lap.

The only major incident came on the 138th lap, when Sharp was in second place, trying to run down Cheever. He spun and slammed into the wall in the fourth turn. It was a hard crash, but Sharp was not injured.