Prior to the 2012 season, Team Penske's Will Power had two consecutive second-place finishes in IZOD IndyCar Series points - he couldn't do that for a third time, could he? Unfortunately for Power, he could, and he did Saturday night at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, going into the MAVTV 500 with a 17-point lead on Ryan Hunter-Reay and leaving with a three-point deficit after an accident on Lap 55 took away his title chances.
The single-car accident in Turn 2 was nearly a two-car incident, as Hunter-Reay passed within feet of Power as he spun. Power's team did manage to get the driver, who was scored in 25th after the accident, back on track to make up one position on the field, forcing Hunter-Reay to finish at least fifth to take the title.
Hunter-Reay did what he had to do, finishing fourth in the race behind Ed Carpenter, Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon. Hunter-Reay also wrapped up the A.J. Foyt Oval Trophy as the top point-getter on oval tracks during the season. Said Hunter-Reay after the race: "I have no idea (how I got won this championship). It was team effort right there. We were struggling all weekend. I didn't want to let anyone really know about it. We were really in the woods. This hasn't sunk in yet. I just drove 500 miles for my life. I can't believe we're IndyCar champions. I can't even believe this. DHL, Sun Drop, Circle K, Chevrolet, the fans, IndyCar. My dream has come true. This is unbelievable."
Hunter-Reay's title run overshadowed the race-winning run of Carpenter, who earned the second win of his career. Carpenter, who won at Kentucky last season with Sarah Fisher Racing, started his own team, Ed Carpenter Racing, in the off-season. Carpenter had a rough first season as a team owner, with just two top 10 finishes before winning Saturday night; the team looked to be picking up steam as the season ended, with two straight top 10 starts (Baltimore and Fontana). Said Carpenter following the race: "This feels great for a brand new team that just started in November. I probably should have won Indy but I kind of messed up a little bit. We have been trying to win ovals all year and finally got it done tonight. A good way to end the year."
Source: "Hunter-Reay wins IZOD IndyCar Series title as Carpenter wins MAVTV 500," IndyCar Media, September 16, 2012
Paula is a long-time auto racing fan who also covers the sport for Skirts & Scuffs and Examiner.com.
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