Ryan Briscoe slipped past Ed Carpenter in the final yards to win the IndyCar Kentucky 300 on Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway.
Briscoe's Penske Racing Honda had just enough momentum coming off the final turn Saturday night to hold off Carpenter, winless in 94 career starts.
Briscoe picked up his second victory of the year and moved into the series points lead ahead of Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti.
Dixon started from the pole and dominated the first half of the race but struggled in the late stages and finished seventh.
Tony Kanaan was third, followed by Helio Castroneves and Graham Rahal.
Briscoe's triumph didn't come easy.
Carpenter, who had led all of four laps during his entire career before Saturday, took the lead with about 45 laps to go and held his ground as Briscoe and Kanaan closed in.
Using the "Push to Pass" button the series adopted this week in an effort to provide more compelling racing, Carpenter was able to hold off Briscoe for awhile.
Briscoe managed to pull even with about 10 laps to go, starting a thrilling duel around the 1.5-mile oval. Carpenter, racing on the inside, had the advantage around the first two turns but Briscoe kept getting better runs over the final two turns.
The final lap was no different, though Carpenter did his best to swing his No. 20 Vision Racing Honda as far up the track as he could. It wasn't enough to keep Briscoe from nipping him at the line. Briscoe won by 0.0162 seconds, the closest finish in the race's 10-year history.
"It was tough," Briscoe said. "I didn't know if I was imagining it or Ed Carpenter's line was getting wider and wider every lap. Roger (Penske) was in my ear saying 'harder, harder.'"
"Push to Pass" was one of a handful of changes the IndyCar officials made this week hoping to avoid the ho-hum nature of the circuit's previous oval races this year.
Drivers had up to 20 chances to push the button throughout the race, with each boost producing anywhere from an extra 5-20 horsepower depending on the fuel mixture.
Carpenter, who started 14th, went to the button early to make up ground and suddenly found himself in unfamiliar territory. He has just three Top 5s in his career, but seemed right at home with the series' elite.
Briscoe is used to such battles, but he seemed to be out of it after scraping the wall on lap 129.
No biggie. He kept pecking away, eventually getting into a four-car breakaway with Carpenter, Castroneves and Kanaan.
The pack stayed within a few car lengths of each other over the final dozen laps, providing the kind of thrills that have been lacking much of the year.
"They did their job and we did our job and that's it," Kanaan said. "The people who were expecting us to fail are probably disappointed right now."
Ultimately, Briscoe survived, ending a frustrating streak that's seen him finish second five times since his season-opening win at St. Petersburg.
"Briscoe needed this one, he's been second, second, second," Penske said. "It's a great day for us."