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Dixon captures third series championship

The SportsXchange

FONTANA, Calif. -- Somehow, Scott Dixon emerged from one of the most up-and-down seasons in IndyCar Series history to capture his third series championship.

The season's final race, held Saturday night at Auto Club Speedway, had just as much drama for the Kiwi. He overcame contact in the MAVTV 500 and an overheating engine to beat Helio Castroneves for the title.

"The trials and tribulations we had to fight through this year," he said.

Those included the passing of his sister-in-law and an assortment of controversy on the track.

Dixon all but considered himself out of the title chase heading to July, but he won four races the rest of the way and overhauled Castroneves despite running into Will Power's tire carrier at Sonoma Raceway in August that drew a costly penalty. Dixon also was knocked out of the Baltimore race by contact from Power.

Dixon also won series titles in 2003 and 2008, so this continued a five-year run of championships.

Dixon finished fifth with Castroneves a lap down in sixth. The Penske driver lost that lap when he had to pit with a broken front wing after contact with Charlie Kimball.

Power won the race, something that if he'd had done that in any of the past three season finales he'd be a champion like Dixon.

Power led a race-high 103 laps for his third win in the season's final five races. He called this "the most satisfying win of my life."

Ed Carpenter finished second with Tony Kanaan third.

Only nine cars finished the race, most of those who retired were because of accidents.

Justin Wilson started a six-car crash on Lap 111 when his right-side tires slid across the seam in the track in Turn 1. The seam is a different material from the rest of the asphalt, and it can cause a lack of tire grip.

Wilson probably wouldn't have had a lazy spin into the wall, but series rookie Tristan Vautier got caught on the outside and had nowhere to go. The front of Vautier's car hit Wilson's in the right side by Wilson's feet, although the concern was for his lower back.

Wilson's spin led other drivers to react, and that caused problems. Josef Newgarden came through the tire smoke and did the only thing he could. He veered to the right.

"I didn't want to T-bone him," Newgarden said.

But doing so caused Newgarden to slam into the left side of Oriol Servia's car. Both bounced off each other and Servia the wall as debris scattered. James Jakes was nearly the victim of it.

Jakes nearly got struck in the head by a large piece of flying suspension from someone else's car. He was fortunate not to get hit.

From there the damage collected Jakes and, indirectly, Simona De Silvestro. She didn't retire from the race, but her car was damaged.

Carlos Munoz, in only his third IndyCar Series race, crashed out on Lap 1101.

The back end of the car of the Indianapolis 500 runner-up came around, sending him hard into the Turn 2 wall. Somehow, Munoz missed two of his Andretti Autosport teammates. Marco Andretti was running alongside him and Ryan Hunter-Reay narrowly missed him.

Munoz was in the race because EJ Viso couldn't compete due to an illness. He didn't make the trip to Los Angeles, even hospitalized briefly in Miami.

AJ Allmendinger was brought back to the IndyCar Series by Team Penske to help Castroneves, but it didn't work out well for the NASCAR driver. Allmendinger had to slow up for Ed Carpenter, whose car was running out of fuel, and that sent him into the Turn 4 wall.

Sebastian Saavedra also crashed, and it came on Lap 71. The spin in Turn 3 left Pippa Mann no room to maneuver, and her car suffered damage. That meant both Dale Coyne Racing cars were damaged, the other being Wilson's.

On Lap 210, Alex Tagliani spun. The car wasn't heavily damaged, but his retirement gave Dixon another car on the sideline.

Tagliani was driving the car designed for Dario Franchitti, who was injured in the Oct. 6 race at Houston. Franchitti was released from an Indianapolis hospital earlier in the week after having surgery on his fractured right foot.

Engine overheating was a problem in the race, especially in the second half. Takuma Sato and Kimball, both in Hondas, retired that way.
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