Scott Dixon won his third IndyCar championship Saturday night in a race that came down to mere survival.
As Team Penske’s Will Power won the race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Dixon finished fifth to win the title by 27 points over Power teammate Helio Castroneves.
Dixon needed to only finish fifth or better in the MAVTV 500 to clinch the Izod IndyCar series championship.
Castroneves finished sixth, one lap down to the leaders.
But at least those two drivers saw the checkered flag. Due to crashes and mechanical problems, only eight cars managed to finish the 500-mile race, which began with a 25-car field.
“It was a crazy day,” said Dixon, a driver for Target Chip Ganassi Racing who also won the title in 2003 and 2008.
“I still can’t believe that we’ve actually won the championship,” the 33-year-old New Zealander said. “I just means so much.”
Castroneves, who came into the race trailing Dixon by 25 points, said, “We fought hard. Unfortunately one weekend for us went bad and that cost us the championship.”
Power was leading at the halfway point of the IndyCar season finale as Dixon neared his third championship.
Dixon was running second in the 250-lap race, about one second behind Power.
Dixon needed to only finish fifth or better to win the title regardless of where Castroneves finished.
Castroneves had climbed to fourth after starting 12th.
Alex Tagliani was third. The veteran driver was a late replacement for Dixon teammate Dario Franchitti, the four-time series champion who was injured at the most recent IndyCar race Oct. 6 in Houston.
There was a multi-car crash on Lap 111 that included Justin Wilson, Oriol Servia, Josef Newgarden, Simona De Silvestro and Tristan Vautier.
ALSO:Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun