For the eighth consecutive year, the IZOD IndyCar Series champion was determined in the final race; 500 miles on the 2-mile oval at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Points-leader and two-time champion Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Honda) started 17th. Helio Castroneves (Team Penske, Chevrolet) entered the event 25 points behind, started on the outside of the front row next to pole-sitter and teammate Will Power, and had to win or finish second to even have a shot at the title.
Dixon finished fifth (his tenth Top 5 of the season), to claim his third championship by 27 points. Power finished 1.4883 sec ahead of last year’s race winner Ed Carpenter (Ed Carpenter Racing, Chevy) to take his second consecutive win and third of the season. The podium finish was Carpenter’s first of 2013. Tony Kanaan (KV Racing Technology, Chevy) finished third and James Hinchcliffe (Andretti Autosport, Chevy), who earlier in the day announced re-signing to his team for 2014, finished fourth.
"That is the most satisfying win of my life," said Power. "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.”
“It was a crazy day,” Dixon said. “We started back. The car we had to work on a fair bit through the race. 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 towards the end. I still can’t believe we’ve won the championship. It’s fantastic. So many people to thank and it’s just unbelievable.“
Castroneves finished sixth in the race that had 28 lead changes among 11 drivers. Power took the lead for good in Turn 2 of Lap 236, passing Charlie Kimball (Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing, Honda).
Chevrolet earned its second consecutive manufacturer title. Target Chip Ganassi Racing will switch to Chevrolet power for the 2014 season, with Kanaan also joining the team.
“I’m sure somebody came on (Ed’s) radio and said “Please don’t let TK win this one,” so I’m happy that it ended up the way it did,” said Kanaan. “I didn’t have anything for Will anyway, so just to take Ed’s place was going to be – I didn’t have anything for him either. We had a pretty eventful race. I want to say hi to Dario [Franchitti] at home, he asked me to finish on the podium and Dixon to win the championship, so here’s your wish, now we’re going to ask you please come back.”
Franchitti hurt his ankle and back in a spectacular last-lap crash in Race 2 of the Grand Prix of Houston, the immediately prior event.