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Dixon claims third IndyCar title, Power wins at Fontana
Fontana, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Scott Dixon clinched his third IndyCar Series championship with a fifth-place finish, while Will Power scored his third win of the year in Saturday night's season-ending race at Auto Club Speedway.
In a 500-mile race that featured just nine drivers finishing it, Dixon dealt with his engine overheating late in the race. He was the last driver to finish on the lead lap. Dixon ended the season with a 27-point margin over Helio Castroneves, who placed one spot behind in sixth. Castroneves suffered a broken front wing with 30 laps to go and fell one lap behind.
"It was a crazy day," Dixon said. "Just a huge credit to Team Target. They played everything straight tonight. We had to work on a bit of strategy. We had to work on the car a lot, and then we had an issue with some overheating problems toward the end. I still can't believe we've won the championship."
Dixon's previous IndyCar championships came in 2003 and '08. Chip Ganassi Racing has now won five titles in the past six seasons. Dario Franchitti claimed three championships in a row with the team from 2009-11. Alex Tagliani substituted for Franchitti, who is recovering from multiple injuries he sustained during a last-lap crash two weeks ago in Houston. Tagliani crashed in the late going after he had led five laps.
"It was a wild race, but it was a great race," team owner Chip Ganassi said. "It was a hell of a war there at the end with everyone running the way they were."
Power claimed his 20th career IndyCar win but just his second on an oval. His first oval victory came in June 2011 at Texas. He also won the second race in the weekend doubleheader in Houston, which was contested on a street course.
Last year in Fontana, Power lost the series title by just three points to Ryan Hunter-Reay when he finished 24th due to a crash early in the race.
"That is the most satisfying win of my life," said Power, who started on the pole and led a race-high 103 laps. "I wanted to do it so badly all year. I knew before on the ovals, I was kind of conservative because I just wanted to finish every lap. And this time I went for it."
Castroneves, who is Power's teammate at Team Penske, was attempting to win his first championship in the series. He entered this race 25 points behind Dixon after finishing 18th and 23rd in Houston. Castroneves ended the '08 season 17 points behind Dixon.
"I'm certainly disappointed, but it's not the first time," Castroneves said. "We just need to bounce back and look to 2014. There's just nothing you can do about it. We did everything we could in our power to make that win happen. We fought as hard as we would and finished in second position."
Ed Carpenter, the 2012 race winner at this track, finished second, while Tony Kanaan took the third spot in his last race with KV Racing Technology. Kanaan, who won the Indianapolis 500 in May, is moving over to Ganassi for the 2014 season. James Hinchcliffe placed fourth.
Power's win in the season-finale allowed Chevrolet to capture its second consecutive manufacturers' championship.
Only the top-five finished on the lead lap. Eleven drivers in the 25-car field were involved in accidents. A six-car wreck occurred in turn 2 on lap 111 when Justin Wilson got loose and spun into the wall. Tristan Vautier then ran into the front-right side of Wilson's car.
"There was a cloud of smoke, and I didn't see him," Vautier said.
Safety workers had to pull Wilson out of his car and place him on a stretcher before he was transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital. He was awake and alert after the crash. Wilson's brother, Stefan, later tweeted that he suffered a small fracture to his pelvis.
Oriol Servia, Josef Newgarden, James Jakes and Simona De Silvestro were also caught up in the crash. De Silvestro was able to continue in the race.
"I was just behind Justin and saw him getting loose," Servia said. "Josef tried to miss Justin and collected me. We were all fighting for a little bit of real estate."
Marco Andretti finished seventh, while De Silvestro rebounded for an eighth- place run. Hunter-Reay was ninth and Charlie Kimball 10th.
10/20 02:38:39 ET
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