Auto Club Speedway Race Report

Circuit:Auto Club Speedway (2.0 mile oval), Fontana, Calif.
Weather: Clear, warm, 98 degrees F at race start

Top-10 Race Results:

Fn.

St.

Driver

Team

Engine - Chassis

Laps

Average Speed/Notes

1.

5.

Ed Carpenter

Ed Carpenter Racing

Chevrolet Dallara

250

168.939 mph avg.; led 62 laps

2.

9.

Dario Franchitti

Target Chip Ganassi

Honda Dallara

250

-1.9132 seconds; led 15 laps

3.

15.

Scott Dixon

Target Chip Ganassi

Honda Dallara

250

-2.6091 seconds; led 25 laps

4.

22.

Ryan Hunter-Reay

Andretti Autosport

Chevrolet Dallara

250

-3.0477 seconds

5.

17.

Helio Castroneves

Team Penske

Chevrolet Dallara

250

-4.1933 seconds; led 2 laps

6.

18.

Graham Rahal

Chip Ganassi Racing

Honda Dallara

250

-5.4383 seconds

7.

21.

Takuma Sato

Rahal Letterman Lanigan

Honda Dallara

249

Did not finish – crash; led 6 laps

8.

1.

Marco Andretti

Andretti Autosport

Chevrolet Dallara

249

Running; led 3 laps

9.

7.

Katherine Legge-R

Dragon Racing

Chevrolet Dallara

249

Running

10.

23.

Charlie Kimball

Chip Ganassi Racing

Honda Dallara

249

Running

Other Honda-powered Results:

12.

12.

James Jakes

Dale Coyne Racing

Honda Dallara

248

Running; led 10 laps

14.

24.

Wade Cunningham-R

A.J. Foyt Racing

Honda Dallara

246

Running

15.

20.

Simon Pagenaud-R

Schmidt Hamilton Racing

Honda Dallara

246

Running

16.

14.

Josef Newgarden-R

Sarah Fisher Hartman

Honda Dallara

244

Running; led 1 lap

20.

16.

Alex Tagliani

Bryan Herta Autosport

Honda Dallara

229

Did not finish – mechanical; led 21 laps

23.

25.

Justin Wilson

Dale Coyne Racing

Honda Dallara

80

Did not finish – contact

R – IndyCar Series Rookie

Franchitti Finishes Second in California Season Finale

A thrilling conclusion to Saturday night's MAVTV 500 saw a closing-lap duel between Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Dario Franchitti and Ed Carpenter end just after Carpenter claimed the lead, as Takuma Sato crashed and yellow flags froze the field through the final corners on the 250th – and final – lap of the IZOD IndyCar Series season-ending event at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.

Franchitti and Carpenter traded the lead several times over the last six laps, a repeat of their closing-lap battle for victory at Kentucky Speedway last year – a race also won by Carpenter in a photo finish.

In addition to Franchitti, his Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon, Takuma Sato and Alex Tagliani all had extended runs at the front of the 26-car starting field. As the race approached Lap 200, Honda-powered drivers were running first through fourth, led by Dixon; and at the Lap 125 mid-point in the 500-mile run, Tagliani, Sato and Franchitti were 1-2-3 for Honda.  

A crash by Tony Kanaan on Lap 240 set up the wild finish. Race officials briefly halted the race to clear the track and then restarted on Lap 244 with a six-lap dash to the checkers. When the green flag waved for the final time, Franchitti was in front, with Carpenter and Ryan Hunter-Reay – who needed to finish fifth or better to claim the IZOD IndyCar Series drivers' championship – rounding out the top three. Sato, in fourth, Dixon and a charging Helio Castroneves rounded out the potential race winners.

Franchitti and Carpenter quickly pulled out an advantage of several car lengths over the rest of the front-runners, who staged their own equally fierce battle for third through sixth. At the start of the final lap, Carpenter made one final pass on Franchitti as the pair exited Turn 2 and, just an instant later, Sato spun and crashed without injury to end the race. As a result, Dixon grabbed third, while fourth place was just enough for Hunter-Reay to edge Will Power for the series title.

Tonight's MAVTV500 concludes the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series with Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay claiming his first IndyCar drivers championship. Honda-powered Simon Pagenaud is the 2012 IndyCar Rookie of the Year and Honda finished second in the Manufacturers' Championship.

Final IZOD IndyCar Series Drivers' Championship:
1. Ryan Hunter-Reay 468 points (4 wins) 6. Ryan Briscoe 370 (1 win)
2. Will Power 465 (3 wins) 7. Dario Franchitti 363 (1win)
3. Scott Dixon 435 (2 wins) 8. James Hinchcliffe 358
4. Helio Castroneves 431 (2 wins) 9. Tony Kanaan 351
5. Simon Pagenaud 387 10. Graham Rahal

333

       
Manufacturers' Championship: Rookie of the Year:
1. Chevrolet 123 1. Simon Pagenaud 387
2. Honda 102 2. Josef Newgarden 200
3. Lotus 60 3. Katherine Legge 137

Dario Franchitti (#10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) started 9th, finished 2nd: "Ed [Carpenter] just got a big run around the outside. I was down low, and that had been working for me all night, but this time the car started to push up the track and it was either lift or wreck us both, so I lifted. He got by and out came the yellow flag [for Sato's crash, to end the race]. So that happens. Ed drove a great race and I can't take anything away from him. And 'well done' to [new series champion] Ryan [Hunter-Reay], he drove a great race. Congratulations to him and all the Andretti Autosport guys."

Simon Pagenaud (#77 Schmidt Hamilton Racing Honda) started 20th, finished 15th, 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year: "It was a long race, for sure. It started out to be a good race. As soon as the sun went down, the car was really dialed-in. It was super fast with a good setup, I never had any surprises. We definitely had a shot at a top-five finish, but we collected some debris in the radiator that led to overheating, and it cost us a couple of laps in the pits to correct. But it was a great first year for me and the team, and it is an honor to win Rookie of the Year. We will come back even stronger in 2013."

Roger Griffiths (Technical Director, Honda Performance Development) on tonight's season-ending race: "Obviously, it was a disappointing end to the season, following a significant effort from all the associates at Honda Performance Development to finish on a high note. Had it not been for the two late-race cautions, I believe tonight's results would have been very different. But we will learn from this, and apply those lessons and everything else we've learned this year to improve the Honda IndyCar program next year. Winning the Indianapolis 500 was certainly a positive for us, and the engine manufacturer competition we had from Chevrolet and Lotus certainly injected new interest into the series this year. Thanks to everyone at HPD and our partner teams for their extraordinary effort throughout the season."

For photographs from today's race, go to:
http://www.sportssystems.com/hosting/display.cfm?key=101651

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