FONTANA, Calif. (Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013) — 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.
Scott Dixon, who entered the 19th race of the season with a 25-point advantage over title rival Helio Castroneves, secured his third series championship in the past decade in his 220th Indy car start. Dixon finished fifth in the MAVTV 500, while Castroneves placed sixth in the high attrition race. The final margin was 27 points.
“It was a crazy day,” said Dixon, who posted his field-high 10th top five of the season. “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 is the 10th Indy car championship for Target Chip Ganassi Racing and the ninth with Honda (Dixon won in ’03 with Toyota).
Will Power, who lost the championship on this racetrack last year, won his third race of the season by 1.4883 seconds over 2012 race winner Ed Carpenter, who earned his first podium finish of the season.
“That is the most satisfying win of my life,” said Power, who had been the series championship runner-up in 2010, 2011 and 2012. “I wanted to do it so badly all year. I knew in the early ovals, I just was kind of conservative because I just wanted to finish every lap. And this time I’m going for it.”
Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan finished third and James Hinchcliffe, who earlier in the day announced his re-signing with Andretti Autosport for 2014, finished fourth.
Chevrolet earned its second consecutive manufacturer title.
Also on Oct. 19, Sage Karam knew he didn’t have to press for the victory in the Lefty’s Kids Club 100 to secure the Firestone Indy Lights championship. So even a grid penalty didn’t upset the plan developed for the 50-lap race.
Patience aided the 18 year old from Nazareth, Pa., who clinched his first title with a third-place finish. It is the seventh series title for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
Carlos Munoz, driving the No. 26 Dialy-Ser car for Andretti Autosport, won his fourth race of the season, holding off Gabby Chaves by .9966 of a second. Karam was 3.7 seconds behind.
Once Karam, who started at the rear of the field, moved to third early in race, he settled in to collect the points necessary to secure the title by 11 points over his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammate. Karam entered the race with a 16-point advantage.
“I was crying on that last lap, just to know the dream is almost in reach and to be in the IndyCar Series racing with my heroes,” Karam said. “This season started out OK and it went really bad in the middle. We bounced back somehow and we’re champions now. The team just put together an awesome car week-in, week-out. I can’t thank them enough.”
It was the first season in Firestone Indy Lights for Karam, who placed one spot behind Chaves in the 2012 Star Mazda Championship. Chaves, 20, of Weston, Fla., earned a victory at Mid-Ohio in early August and placed in the top five in 11 of the 12 races. He closed the season with seven consecutive podium finishes.
“It’s disappointing. We fight with our hearts every time and sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t. Today wasn’t my way,” Chaves said. “I did everything that I could. I knew I had to lead the most laps and tried to go around Carlos many times. I couldn’t do it. Great job to the team, to Sam (Schmidt) and thank you to everyone who has helped me.”
Munoz, who also won the 2012 Firestone Indy Lights race at Auto Club Speedway, moved to third in the final standings. Zach Veach, who earlier in the day re-signed with Andretti Autosport for 2014, finished fourth in the race.