It was a wild night at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California but Will Power prevailed to win his third IZOD IndyCar Series race of the 2013 season. Power's win was overshadowed by Scott Dixon, who won his third career IZOD IndyCar Series championship. Dixon had to fight overheating issues for most of the night but prevailed with the championship after a high attrition rate and problems for Helio Castroneves helped Dixon win the championship.
"It was a crazy day," said Dixon, who finished fifth for his field-high 10th top five of the season. "We started back. Just 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. So many people to thank and it’s just unbelievable."
It's the tenth championship for Target Chip Ganassi Racing and their ninth with Honda. The team will switch to Chevrolet power for the 2014 season.
Power had the strongest car of the night and fresh tires at the end really helped Power prevail for his third victory. Finishing second was Ed Carpenter with Tony Kanaan finishing in the third position, James Hinchcliffe finishing in the fourth position and Scott Dixon finishing in the fifth position.
Will Power started on the pole and led the 25 car field to the green flag as he took off and led early. Simon Pagenaud would have electrical problems on the first lap. He would continue but his problems would as well and he would finish 13th after completing 217 laps. Sebastien Bourdais would take the lead from Power on lap 12 and Bourdais had the strongest car early in the race. On lap 15 Helio Castroneves showed he wanted to win the championship by moving up to the second position and set his sights on Bourdais in the lead.
By lap 23 Bourdais was still leading with Castroneves in second. Scott Dixon was back in the 15th position and was having trouble hanging with the leaders. On lap 32 Ryan Hunter-Reay took the lead and began to pull away from the field. He led as the field got ready for their first round of green flag pit stops.
Hunter-Reay was still on top of the field after the pit stops on lap 43 and by lap 52 his lead was two seconds. Hunter-Reay led until the races' first caution flag on lap 72 when Pippa Mann and Sebastian Saavedra crashed. Mann finished 25th while Saavedra finished 24th.
The leaders would pit and on the lap 81 restart Helio Castroneves would get the lead and would battle with Marco Andretti for the next three laps before Castroneves began to pull away. On lap 86 James Hinchcliffe had problems with the front wing of his car. He and his team would come down pit road and it was discovered he had a broken wing, which the team replaced before they got back out on track.
On lap 90 Bourdais would take the lead and would battle with Helio Castroneves for the next lap or so before the races' second caution flag of the night flew on lap 101. Carlos Munoz would spin hard and crash coming into turn three. Munzo was running fourth at the time of the accident but the crash ended his night in the 23rd position.
The leaders would pit and on the lap 107 restart Castroneves lead the field to green and he would pull away. On lap 111 the races' third and biggest caution of the night would fly when Oriol Servia, Josef Newgarden, Simona de Silvestro, James Jakes, Tristan Vautier and Justin Wilson crashed. Wilson would be transported to a local hospital and would have a fractured pelvis and a slight concussion. He was held overnight for observation.
The race would restart on lap 125 with Castroneves in the lead. On lap 126 Alex Tagliani and Sebastian Bourdais would jump to the lead. Next to lead was Marco Andretti who battled with Tagliani for the next four laps until Will Power took the lead on lap 135. Helio Castroneves would fade as his ill handling racecar would become a huge problem for the Brazilian. Power would stretch his lead and led by over 3 seconds on lap 150.
Green flag pit stops would occur on lap 151 and after the cycle of stops Power still led on lap 163. His lead would stretch to four seconds on lap 185 as he was in complete control of the second half of the race. Power was leading when teammate A.J. Allmendinger would bring out the races' fourth caution flag on lap 190. Allmendinger lost control of his #2 car and slammed the outside wall hard in turn two. He would finish in the 16th position.
The race would restart on lap 198 with Power still in front and Scott Dixon in second. Castroneves was running in the fourth position and was trying to get his way to the lead as he needed to win to win the championship because of the high attrition rate. On lap 209 the races' fifth caution flag flew when Alex Tagliani crashed. Tagliani was subbing for the injured Dario Franchitti in the #10 Target/Chip Ganassi Racing car and was having a strong run all day long. He was running in the fifth position when he lost control off turn two and crashed hard. The accident ended his day in the 14th position.
Helio Castroneves was coming onto pit road when the caution occurred as team owner Roger Penske told Castroneves to pit. The light to close pit road was on and Castroneves was penalized and had to do a pass through penalty. He would have to restart in the 11th position. Meanwhile the leaders would pit and we would have a new leader on the lap 215 restart. Will Power lost the lead to Charlie Kimball who's car came to life in the late stages of the event. Kimball took the lead on lap 215 but would lose it a lap later to Scott Dixon. Kimball took it away from Dixon on lap 219 and then Sebastian Bourdais would try and fight for the lead.
Meanwhile Helio Castroneves was trying to make his way through the field and it looked like he was doing so. However, a broken right front piece of his wing all of a sudden made his car extremely poor handling and he would have to pit for a new wing. Castroneves would lose a lap as he watched his championship hopes fade on lap 225.
The leaders were three wide for the lead on lap 229 when Sebastian Bourdais' car spun and hit the wall hard ending his day on lap 229. Bourdais would finish 12th. The leaders would stay out, all of course but Scott Dixon whose car began to extremely overheat. Dixon would come down pit road and have his team vacuum the junk out of his engine as he tried to make the finish of the event. All Castroneves could do was watch because he needed to win to win the championship and he was still a lap behind.
Will Power led the field to the green on lap 237 but he quickly lost the lead to Charlie Kimball. Kimball's car was strong and was going to be a force in the closing stages of the event. One lap later though, Kimball's car would blow its engine and he was done after a strong run at Auto Club Speedway. Kimball finished 10th. J.R. Hildebrand would also find trouble on his car and his car would stop on the racetrack under the caution. Hildebrand had major mechanical issues and he would finish in the 11th position.
The race would restart on lap 242 and it was all clear sailing for Power as he won his 19th career IZOD IndyCar Series race.
Scott Dixon won the championship by 27 points over Helio Castroneves. Third in the standings was Simon Pagenaud who was 69 points back of the lead. Will Power finished fourth in the standings with Marco Andretti finishing fifth, Justin Wilson sixth, and Ryan Hunter-Reay seventh. James Hinchcliffe finished eighth in the points with Charlie Kimball ninth and Dario Franchitti tenth.
The MAVTV 500 was the IZOD IndyCar Series season finale as the series will start again on March 30th for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
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