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Power keeps to the plan for a hat-trick

At the restart, Power and Franchitti were still side-by-side at the front while behind them Scott Dixon had lost third place to Ryan Hunter-Reay. Power got away cleanly and Hunter-Reay slotted into second, but Franchitti seemed to have a recurrence of the issue that wrecked his race at Long Beach - the engine possibly overboosting to the point where the power briefly dips before suddenly snapping back in. That caught out the cars behind him, and while Dixon was able to dodge his team mate, the same could not be said of AJ Foyt Racing's Mike Conway who ended up making contact with the rear of the Ganassi, tipping the #10 into a spin on the entry of the turn 1 chicane.

Franchitti had a violent bounce over the aggressive kerbing and the car stalled, bringing out an immediate second caution. The track workers managed to get the car restarted before Franchitti went off the lead lap, but he was firmly at the back of the field - as was Conway, who needed a new front wing. Race director Beaux Barfield investigated the incident to see whether Conway was guilty of causing an avoidable contact, but was seemingly satisfied by the telemetry that he had done nothing wrong and that it was Franchitti's car that had inadvertently caused the accident by slowing.

With several cars being forced into the runoff area by the original incident, the running order had been given a serious shakeup - Rahal fell to 13th, Simon Pagenaud to 15th and Newgarden to 17th in the process. Power and Hunter-Reay were still safely in front, but were now followed by Dixon, Castroneves, Rubens Barrichello and Tony Kanaan. When the restart came on lap 29, Kanaan put in a great move to get ahead of his two compatriots and claim fifth place behind Dixon.

Unfortunately the track was quickly back under yellow for an incident further back in turn 3, when Simona de Silvestro tapped Newgarden into a spin. That caused a road block that caught out the following traffic; Charlie Kimball escaped with just a light brush against the tyres and Sebastien Bourdais also finally inched his way through the mêlée, but James Jakes ploughed into Newgarden's left front suspension as the stricken car spun around back into the path of the oncoming cars. Amazingly the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing team was able to effect repairs to the car and the rookie would be able to continue, although he would subsequently plant the ailing car into the wall at turn 5 on lap 63 to end his day early after all.

Most of the teams had now thrown out their pit stop plans and were in reactive rather than proactive mode; a number of cars opted to use the latest yellow for fuel and tyre stops, and by the time the race resumed on lap 33 the top eight consisted of Power, Hunter-Reay, Dixon, Kanaan, Barrichello, Viso, Ana Beatriz, Servia. Amazingly, after all that later chaos, Dario Franchitti had already managed to pop right back up into ninth place ahead of Helio Castroneves.

Finally the race was able to get back to green flag racing without triggering another immediate accident, although both Castroneves and Pagenaud suffered some typical midpack front wing damage as the field got back to racing speed. At the front, Ryan Hunter-Reay had the advantage of being the only car among the leaders to be sporting the red soft option tyres, but that didn't seem to cut much ice with Will Power who parried his early attacks and then inexorably started to stretch out his lead. Hunter-Reay waved goodbye to the Penske and focused on holding back Dixon instead.

Dixon dropped out of third and tumbled all the way back to 14th when he pitted for his next stop. While he was soon working his way forward again - a combination of having fuel to burn and others ahead coming into pit lane for their own stops - 33 laps was still much too far to go to the end for the Kiwi to be able to make it to the end without another stop. His only chance was to make it to the front when Power and Hunter-Reay pitted and stretch out such a lead that he could make his own stop and return to the track within striking distance of the front.

Having pitted for minor repairs after his spin, Dixon's team mate Dario Franchitti was now working a different strategy. Controlling any anger he might have felt about his earlier mishap and channelling it into a series of overtaking he moves, he soon got the better of Beatriz and Castroneves (the latter still struggling with that minor front wing damage). Once the KV Racing trio pitted, Franchitti was back in third place; and on lap 52, when Power and Hunter-Reay came in for their second and final pit stops of the day, Franchitti was even in the lead for the first and only time of the race. It only lasted a single lap - Franchitti was in for his final stop of the day next time around - but it meant he was in touch for a podium finish, which considering that earlier restart disaster would surely be quite a save.

With the former leaders now pitted for the last time, running well out of position down the running order and more concerned about fuel conservation, Scott Dixon inherited the lead on lap 56. He needed to absolutely floor it if he was to build up enough of an edge before his own final stop for fuel, and he did everything he possibly could.

He might even have gotten away for it if it wasn't for those pesky kids: the 'kids' in question being Newgarden (into the wall at turn 6) and Ed Carpenter (spun by a careless Ana Beatriz in a simultaneous separate incident in turn 5). Ana Beatriz was handed a penalty for causing Carpenter's spin; all of the other race penalties handed out on Sunday were limited to the hyperactive pit lane officials handing out numerous speeding violations, with Takuma Sato, Oriol Servia, Graham Rahal and Beatriz herself all among the culprits on that score.




Related Pictures

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Winner Will Power leads into the first turn at the start of the Sao Paulo Indy 300 in Brazil. (c) 2012, Michael L. Levitt, LAT Photo USA. Photo Credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA
Winner Will Power takes the chequered flag and the win at the end of the Sao Paulo Indy 300 in Brazil. (c) 2012, Michael L. Levitt, LAT Photo USA. Photo Credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA
Will Power celebrates with his team after winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates with his team owner Roger Penske after winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates with his wife Liz after winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Team Chevy sweeps the podium as Tony Kanaan (center), driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Saturday, August 30, 2014, during the last Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Teammate Scott Dixon (left), driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V6, finishes second, and Ed Carpenter, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet V6, finishes third. Chevrolet wins the Manufacturer`s Championship for the third straight season. (Photo by Gregg EllmanLAT 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)
Confetti falls on the podium trio Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Ed Carpenter celebrate after the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Ed Carpenter celebrate after the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship title (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)

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