It was Real America Saturday night at Auto Club Speedway, racing for the IZOD IndyCar season’s finale and championship. An American driver won the race, an American driver won the Championship, an American company won the manufacturer’s championship, and it was nail-biting Saturday night oval track racing.
ED CARPENTER of Indianapolis drove his No.20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet to victory in the MAVTV 500 race, taking the lead for the eighth time on the last lap, Carpenter is a first-year owner-driver. He also took the bonus points for the most laps led – 62. Carpenter turned the fastest race leading lap of 215.745 mph on Lap 229 of the 250-lap race.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY/No.28 Andretti Autosport Chevrolet finished fourth to finish the 2012 Ascot Cup Championship, edging WILL POWER/No.12 Team Penske Racing Chevrolet by three points. RHR also won the A.J. Foyt Trophy for the IndyCar Oval Championship.
Race runner-up was DARIO FRANCHITTI/No.10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, 1.9132 seconds behind. Third through fifth were Franchitti’s teammate, SCOTT DIXON/No.9, RHR, and HELIO CASTRONEVES/No.3 Team Penske Chevrolet.
Carpenter said “It was a wild race. It was fun. I guess the Red Flag was a new situation we just learned about. I was really happy to do this in my first year as a new team. It’s a start – winning a 500 mile race in California. Next year we kiss the bricks.”
Hunter-Reay said “We had a break-out year. It’s tough to win on ovals. I’ve definitely got my eye on the Indy 500.”
Regarding his rival for the Championship, Hunter-Reay said “I think Will’s one of the great talents there has been in IndyCar in a very long time. He’s one of the best. His talent level, what he does on the track, especially some of these road courses and street circuits some of us haven’t seen at all. He certainly would be a deserving champion if he won it.”
All three drivers – Carpenter, Hunter-Reay and Power – showed grace under fire. Gentleman Drivers, All. Dignity and Respect. Well done!
Andretti Autosport team owner, MICHAEL ANDRETTI said “It was meaningful when an American beats the best international drivers. This is probably the sweetest of championships (of his four.)”
Power was a class act, being one of the first people to congratulate RHR. Despite his deep disappointent, he was gracious to all the interviewers.
Power said “Yeah, it’s definitely frustrating, but when I look at it three years in a row I convincingly won the road course championship, and it’s very obvious that the ovals, I just don’t know why I can’t put my finger on one particular thing that I don’t do right.
“But tonight it was just catching a seam and really caught me just unbelievable. Just really caught me out. I just did not expect that to happen.”
KATHERINE LEGGE/No.6 Dragon Racing Chevrolet was the highest finishing Rookie, in ninth position. SIMON PAGENAUD/No.77 Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports Honda finished fifteenth, but clinched the Rookie Championship at the last race – in Sonoma.
There were 29 official lead changes in the race among twelve drivers. Ten cautions for 43 laps punctuated the race, all contact-related. The Red Flag lasted four seconds shy of five minutes. Three penalties were assessed for jumping the start, three for pit infraction, and three speeding tickets in pit lane.
SIMONA de SILVESTRO/No.78 Lotus-HVM Lotus was the first to retire, after sixteen laps … for mechanical reasons. MARSHALL PRUETT of SPEEDTV.com reported Saturday that Lotus and HVM have parted ways.
The Fontana race was the Swan Song for IndyCar TV broadcaster, BOB JENKINS, who is retiring after a long and storied career.