October 20, 2013 — By Dave Lewandowski, Indycar.com — FONTANA, Calif. — You couldn’t re-imagine it any more than you could re-imagine the Battle of Iwo Jima without the Marines planting the flag.
For the eighth consecutive year, the IZOD IndyCar Series champion was determined in the final race — 500 high-speed, high-drama miles played out over 3 hours under the lights at Auto Club Speedway.
A battle through 18 races was winnowed to a duel between two veteran drivers who left their cordial relationship on pit lane. Scott Dixon didn’t allow starting 17th in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car to rattle his mind-set in the 250-lap race on the D-shaped oval, which is why he carries the nickname the Iceman.
Helio Castroneves, entering the event 25 points behind, said during the build-up that he “had nothing to lose” and would “go for it,” which he did on multiple occasions. He had to win or finish second, along with some misfortune to befall Dixon to earn his first series title.
The first didn’t occur, and though there was a high attrition rate, Dixon did enough to clinch his third series championship in the past decade. The margin was 27 points.
Will Power, who lost the championship on this racetrack in 2012, won the race by 1.4883 seconds over 2012 race winner Ed Carpenter.
“That is the most satisfying win of my life,” said Power, who had been the series championship runner-up in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Dixon placed fifth, while Castroneves finished sixth in the race that had 28 lead changes among 11 drivers.
It is the 10th Indy car championship for Target Chip Ganassi Racing and the ninth with Honda (Dixon won in ’03 with Toyota). The team will switch to Chevrolet power for the 2014 season.
Chevrolet earned its second consecutive manufacturer title.
Photo Credit: IndyCar Series