Title contenders Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves are among the competitors who will take a ten-place grid penalty for early engine changes ahead of Saturday night's 2013 season finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
With the two men the only drivers still mathematically able to win the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series championship, the the private title battle is focus for both of them going into this week's 500-mile endurance event at the two-mile, low-banked oval superspeedway. To that end, the Ganassi and Penske teams have decided that having a fresh engine that will last the night is more important than a ten-place grid penalty that will be quickly overcome.
Other drivers who will also incur engine change penalties for the race are AJ Foyt Racing's Takuma Sato, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing's Graham Rahal, Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing's Josef Newgarden and Dragon Racing's Sebastian Saavedra. More teams may still opt to make changes ahead of this weekend's floodlit race.
Dixon starts with the advantage of a 25 point lead over Castroneves, who had a terrible time of it at Houston in the most recent doubleheader event at Houston. Dixon finished in third place last year at Fontana, and finished as runner-up in 2003. He also won here in 2000 when competing in Indy Lights. Castroneves was fifth at Fontana in 2012, matching his previous best performance at the venue.
Houston crash investigation still ongoing
IndyCar Series CEO Mark Miles has said that the review into the events at Houston - which began with track surface issues that disrupted the doubleheader event's schedule on Friday and Saturday, and culminated with a major accident for Dario Franchitti on the last lap of the race on Sunday - was still ongoing.
"I wouldn't even call it an investigation; it's more of a review of what happened," Miles told The Associated Press
. "[We] are looking at it to look at everything that didn't go as we wanted it to go."
Franchitti suffered a concussion, bruised ribs, two broken vertebrae and a fracture to his right ankle in the accident. Now back in Indianapolis, Franchitti underwent his second round of surgery on the ankle on Monday to repair the talus bone.
“Dr Tim Weber repaired Dario's ankle and his surgery went perfectly and just as planned," reported Dr Terry Trammel, IndyCar's orthopedic consultant. "His post-operation x-rays looked great. Everything is positive at this point as Dario continues his recovery." Franchitti was reported to be "resting comfortably" after the three-hour procedure.
As well as Franchitti, a number of fans were slightly injured by debris that broke through the catchfence when the #10 Ganassi was launched into the air over the back of Takuma Sato's car.