Chip Ganassi Racing duo Scott Dixon and Tomas Scheckter may have started on the front row of the Kansas Indy 300 on Sunday, but Bryan Herta drove a brilliant tactical race to claim his first IRL win.

Chip Ganassi Racing duo Scott Dixon and Tomas Scheckter may have started on the front row of the Kansas Indy 300 on Sunday, but Bryan Herta drove a brilliant tactical race to claim his first IRL win.

Herta won the race at the Kansas Speedway, crossing the finish line with little more than fumes in the fuel tank after stretching his final stint to 41 laps.

Starting from pole position, Dixon led the first 53 laps to extend his series record of consecutive laps led to 343. But a fuel-pickup problem late in the race prevented Dixon from contending for victory and forced both him and his South African team-mate, Scheckter, to make two fuel stops late in the race.

"Our car was very good and we were able to stay up front for most of the day. The fuel pickup problem ended any chance that we had at winning three straight today. It's very frustrating to have this kind of thing happen. Luckily, I was able to salvage a sixth place finish out of it today. We're still in the points race, so we just need to keep finishing races and we'll be OK," said Dixon, who retained second place in the championship.

Scheckter finished ninth and added: "We had an unbelievable race car today. I felt like if we didn't have the fuel pickup problem, we would have won the race today. The Target car could run anywhere on the track, but we kept having to pit early for fuel. Every time that we got down to about 10 gallons, we had to come in for fuel. We just have to keep our heads up and go onto Nashville and keep pushing."

Herta, who has previously scored two victories at Laguna Seca in CART, joined Andretti Green Racing at the Indianapolis 500 as a back up driver for Robby Gordon, who was running in the 500 as well as the NASCAR race later that evening. He also drove for Andretti Green in Texas, where he finished fifth, and at Richmond last weekend.

For the first three-quarters of the 200-lap Kansas race, Herta raced side by side with the likes of Sam Hornish, Helio Castroneves and his team-mate Tony Kanaan.

Waiting until the last possible lap to pit, Herta and Kanaan both reported for service on lap 139. With the car back on track, Herta's team manager, Kyle Moyer, calculated that the Andretti Green entry could make it to the finish without another stop – but it would be close and Herta would have to conserve fuel.

Moyer instructed Herta to save fuel by feathering the throttle. He was also told to draft other cars, also helping to cut consumption.

Since they had made their pit stops together, Herta initially stayed behind Kanaan. Then he let Kanaan pull away while he went looking for another drafting partner. Tucking in behind Robbie Buhl, who was running a few laps behind, Herta patiently waited in fourth place for the cars ahead of him to stop one last time for fuel. As a result, he was able to stretch his final stint to 41 laps, a strategy that gave him his first Indy Racing victory after just three starts in the series.

The Team Penske cars of Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran finished second and third respectively.

De Ferran had managed to lead the most laps – 93 of 200 – after pitting out of sequence. Forced to report to the pits for fuel on lap 184, he then relinquished the lead to current points leader Tony Kanaan.

Kanaan's lead was short-lived, as he too stopped for fuel with six laps remaining. A short splash-and-go pit-stop put him back on track on the lead lap, and he managed to salvage fourth.

After Kanaan had ducked into the pits, Herta was left with a 12,8-second lead over Castroneves, who continued to charge. Advised of his margin over second place, Brian gradually slowed, crossing the finish line 7,32564 seconds ahead of the Penske driver.

"I have to give all the credit to Kyle Moyer and the Andretti Green team," said Herta. "Their fuel strategy and the fuel economy of the Honda engine are responsible for this victory."

Meanwhile, Brazilian Felipe Giaffone suffered a fractured right femur and fractured pelvis after a collision with British rookie Dan Wheldon on lap 56. Wheldon's Klein Tools Jim Beam Dallara Honda Firestone touched Giaffone's Hollywood Mo Nunn Racing Panoz G Force Toyota Firestone as they raced for position in Turn Two. The Briton climbed from his car unhurt.