These latest concurrent crashes triggered a full course caution on lap 63, which was before Dixon had made his dive for pit road. That closed the field right up and Dixon's lead evaporated; when he did finally come in for his stop under the yellow, he was bumped all the way down to 13th place and any hopes he had of finishing at the sharp end were over.
The restart on lap 67 saw Power and Hunter-Reay still firmly on control of the front row, with Franchitti in third alongside Helio Castroneves. On the row behind was Takuma Sato, who had made an astonishing afternoon of it by working his way up from the back row to fifth position, showing that his impressive form at Long Beach (before being punted off by Hunter-Reay on the penultimate lap) had been no fluke whatsoever and that the Rahal Letterman Lanigan car had real pace to it on road and street courses in 2012.
In his F1 days, Sato was known for letting such moments go to his head; and when the green flag came out it seemed as though recent history was repeating itself as he screamed down the inside of the first corner, locking up his brakes in the process and seemingly inevitably heading straight to the scene of the accident. But the funny thing was, he pulled out a perfectly clean and even - say it quietly - genuinely inspired move, darting past Franchitti who was once again seriously sluggish to get away at the restart. Sato then slid the car sideways to stop Castroneves from even thinking of stopping his progress: he had just gone from fifth to third with arguably the move of the weekend.
Unfortunately the track still went straight back to a full course yellow - although it had nothing to do with Sato. Mike Conway had been running side by side with James Hinchcliffe as they fought over sixth place, and he ran out of room even as he was tapped from behind by an impatient Marco Andretti seeking his own way past. Conway's car came to an emergency stop in the tyres, and after that everyone behind him was left with no where to go. The result was an eight car blockade across the track and other cars having to make a detour through the chicane overrun area.
Caught up in this mess - apart from Conway, Hinchcliffe and Andretti - were Simon Pagenaud, Tony Kanaan, Graham Rahal, Ana Beatriz ... and the eternally luckless Scott Dixon. The cars were soon pulled apart and sent on their way, although the local track workers seemed to take against Marco and left him sitting in the middle of the track gesticulating wildly long after the other cars had been dispatched.
This all took some time to clear up, and when racing resumed there were only five laps remaining to the chequered flag. Sato was especially well-behaved and didn't seem to even consider making a play for Power and Hunter-Reay ahead of him, while behind him no one had any appetite for further full course cautions and were similarly polite.
A few minutes later, the race was in the books: Will Power took the chequered flag as it always seemed as though he would, with Hunter-Reay in second and a delighted Sato claiming his best-ever IndyCar result in third. And even as the trio celebrated on the front straight, you could see in their eyes that they were thinking what a great way this was to set themselves up for the next stop on the IndyCar calendar - Indianapolis.
Full race results