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Power's win at Houston marred by crash

The SportsXchange

HOUSTON --- Will Power's victory in Race 2 of the Shell-Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston on Sunday was overshadowed by a huge accident at the end.

Scott Dixon's gain was Helio Castroneves' loss at Reliant Park. Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti was involved in the crash, thrown high into the fence. It was a violent crash that sent debris flying. Franchitti's team owner, Chip Ganassi, said the Scotsman reported ankle and back soreness, but "he's OK."

Castroneves suffered a gearbox problem for a second consecutive day, which caused him to lose the rest of what was a very large points lead entering the weekend.

With Castroneves finishing 23rd Sunday after being 18th Saturday, Dixon completed a first-second double to take a 25-point lead to the season-ending race Oct. 19 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

Dixon's lead could have been 38 points had Power not beaten him -- a 10-point swing -- and Power grabbed the two-point bonus for leading the most laps.

Castroneves picked up a point when Team Penske got the gearbox repaired in time to pass Tony Kanaan, who had crashed.

Dixon began talking about oil coming from Castroneves' gearbox on the opening lap, and the amount of it increased for several minutes to the point smoke could be seen.

Castroneves said he realized the problem "on the third or fourth lap," but it did not fail until Lap 12.

"I'm very upset, but I'm just thinking about Fontana now," he said.

Castroneves' car was taken back to the garage area for repairs, and eventually the Brazilian's car was ready to return. At that point the separation was 38 points in Dixon's favor. Then Kanaan, Castroneves' boyhood friend, crashed, giving an opportunity for the Team Penske driver to gain a point.

That was not all of the drama. Heavy morning rain led officials to cancel qualifying. It seemed right to give the top starting position to Dixon. He had more entrant points than Castroneves because the Brazilian's car was docked 15 such points in June for failing post-race inspection at Texas Motor Speedway.

Dixon was initially given the pole sticker, although he was not the pole sitter. An hour or so later, IndyCar gave the sticker to Castroneves after referring to its rulebook. In cases where qualifying is rained out, the lineup is set based on entrant points heading into an event. At doubleheaders, the start of an event is designated Friday morning -- not Sunday morning.
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