Scott Dixon did all he needed - and more - to clinch his second IndyCar Series title, coming within 0.033secs of adding a record seventh race win to a new mark for laps led in a season and the million dolar crown.
It was not all plain sailing for the Kiwi, who dropped as low as tenth in a race that saw some unexpected names coming to the fore, but he kept his head long enough to be right back in the frame at the final round of pit-stops, leading off pit-lane and heading into a head-to-head over the last twelve laps with title rival Helio Castroneves.
The Brazilian had risen from the very back of the grid after his misdemeanour in qualifying, and was leading by lap 77, when he won the race off pit-road, but was never in control of his own destiny, as Dixon kept a weather eye on proceedings right at the front. The pair were split by a near-record 0.033secs as they crossed the line for the final time, with the scorers initially giving the victory to Dixon before photo evidence proved otherwise.
Ryan Briscoe, who had proven an adequate wing man to Penske team-mate Castroneves, claimed the final podium spot to go with his pole position.
Briscoe led the field away once the race got underway at the second time of asking and, despite running side-by-side with the fast-starting Tony Kanaan for several laps, maintained the upper hand until the first caution, for Ed Carpenter's crash, on lap 37.
Carpenter had been impressive to that point, rising through the order to run inside the top five, but appeared to suffer a breakage on the Vision Racing Dallara that sent him hard into the wall. By the time the bright yellow machine had slid down to the infield, equally eye-catching flames were belching out of its side, but Carpenter was quickly extricated by the safety team.
Kanaan led the field off pit-road and continued to set the pace until Vitor Meira cut short his final appearance for Panther Racing by finding the turn two wall on lap 75. Dixon had run in the top three throughout the stint, but was well aware that Castroneves was closing on him, the red-and-white Penske machine growing ever larger in his mirrors until it slotted in right behind with a double move on the duelling Danica Patrick and Dan Wheldon.
The two championship protagonists swapped places in traffic on lap 66, before Meira's accident slowed Helio's progress. The Penske driver, aware that he needed the three bonus points for leading the most laps, wasn't to be denied, however, and received a lightning service from his crew that allowed him to return to the fray at the head of the pack despite nearly collecting his team-mate as both exited their stalls together.
Dixon, who had been up at 6am to tend to his sick dog, received his first scare of the afternoon shortly after the restart, as EJ Viso's vivid black-and-green HVM car began to jink around in his mirrors. The rookie appeared capable of challenging the points leader but, perhaps aware of the comeback should they make contact, never actually put a move on the Kiwi.