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Castroneves makes it seven from seven.

Sadly, on lap 14 Da Matta's fine run came to an end when his Toyota engine cried enough. The young Brazilian pulled forlornly into the pit-lane and climbed out of his machine to record another retirement and further watch his feint championship hopes disappear.

Cristiano's demise left Fittipaldi in fifth place although he was coming under increasing pressure from Papis, Moreno, Oriol Servia, Patrick Carpentier and Adrian Fernandez who completed the top ten. Andretti was still running in eleventh, a little way ahead of the still scrapping Vasser and Tracy who were now disputing the final points scoring position.

It had now become obvious to all and sundry that Franchitti was not happy with his car, Montoya's lead had suddenly grown to over four seconds and Castroneves was making an even more determined effort to pass the Scot. Indeed Franchitti told his team that his rear tyres were shot which allowed Castroneves to tuck in under the exhaust of the Team KOOL Green Reynard.

Franchitti wasn't the only driver who was unhappy with his car for Montoya had also radioed to his crew that there was something amiss with the balance of his car. Montoya's lack of balance, combined with traffic meant that as the leaders approached the 25 lap mark, the Colombian's lead had shrunk to a fraction over two seconds.

That gap was increased dramatically on the next lap when Franchitti made for the pit-lane for fuel and tyres. The Scotsman rejoined the track in ninth place behind the impressive Servia.

A lap later Montoya and Castroneves both pitted and although the Ganassi crew did enough to keep Montoya in the lead, Castroneves' stop was superb and the Penske driver came back onto the track ahead of Franchitti and closer to Montoya than he had been all afternoon.

Behind the lead trio, De Ferran had maintained his fourth position ahead of Fittipaldi, Papis, Moreno and Servia . Tracy had managed to find a way past Vasser and was now tenth while Andretti's day had gone from bad to worse when he was called back into the pits after breaking the pit-lane speed limit.

On lap 31 Fernandez, having an unspectacular run just outside the top twelve, spun at Turn 8 and stalled his Reynard-Ford. His machine needed to be cleared off the track which meant that the pace car was deployed for the first time.

The caution stayed out for a further three laps while the Mexican driver's machine was removed. As the green flag fell, Mark Blundell lost control of his Reynard-Mercedes and made light contact with the tyres. The Englishman kept the engine running and was able to rejoin the race after a slight delay, by which time the rest of the field had roared into the distance.

Montoya made a copybook getaway but so did Castroneves and during the next few laps, traditionally Montoya's strongest point in the race, Castroneves was able to peg the Colombian back. By lap 40 the gap between the top two was just 1.5 seconds and Castroneves looked comfortable in running at the same pace as Montoya. Behind them Franchitti had kept the pressure on Castroneves for several laps before he began to drop away, once again complaining of a poorly handling car.



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Castroneves celebrates
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Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Saturday, August 30, 2014 during the last Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. This is the third consecutive win for Chevrolet at Auto Club Speedway. Chevrolet wins the Manufacturer`s Championship for the third straight season. (Photo by Gregg Ellman/LAT for Chevy Racing)
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Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Chevrolet IndyCar V6, takes the chequered flag while racing to victory Saturday, August 30, 2014 during the last Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. This is the third consecutive win for Chevrolet at Auto Club Speedway. Chevrolet wins the Manufacturer`s Championship for the third straight season. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Tony Kanaan, driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Chevrolet IndyCar V6, makes a quick pit stop while racing to victory Saturday, August 30, 2014 during the last Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. This is the third consecutive win for Chevrolet at Auto Club Speedway. Chevrolet wins the Manufacturer`s Championship for the third straight season. (Photo by Brian Cleary/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship by posing with the Astor Challenge Cup Saturday, August 30, 2014 after the last race of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Chevrolet clinches its third straight Manufacturer`s Championship. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship by hoisting the Astor Challenge Cup Saturday, August 30, 2014 after the last race of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Chevrolet clinches its third straight Manufacturer`s Championship. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship by kissing the Astor Challenge Cup Saturday, August 30, 2014 after the last race of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Chevrolet clinches its third straight Manufacturer`s Championship. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship with his wife Liz Saturday, August 30, 2014 after the last race of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Chevrolet clinches its third straight Manufacturer`s Championship. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
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Helio Castroneves, Driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the pole with the fastest qualifying time Friday, August 29, 2014, for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Castroneves will start in the front row with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified second fastest.  (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, Driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates with his daughter Mikaella after winning the pole with the fastest qualifying time Friday, August 29, 2014, for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Castroneves will start in the front row with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified second fastest.  (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, Driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the pole with the fastest qualifying time Friday, August 29, 2014, for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Castroneves will start in the front row with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified second fastest. (Photo by Gregg Ellman/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, Driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates winning the pole with the fastest qualifying time Friday, August 29, 2014, for Saturday`s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Castroneves will start in the front row with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who qualified second fastest. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
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Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, August 24, 2014, winning the IndyCar race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)

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