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Already securing the bonus point for winning the PEAK Performance Pole Award, Dario Franchitti had two other goals in the Cafes do Brasil Indy 300 to earn the IZOD IndyCar Series championship for a record-tying third time.
One was achieved on Lap 118 of 200 when he clinched two points for leading the most laps, and he was on pace to win the race. That would seal the deal no matter where Power finished.
That all became moot when Power's No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car brushed the Turn 4 wall on Lap 135 while running fourth, which bent the right-rear wishbone. The crew wheeled the car behind the wall and made the change in 5 minutes, 6 seconds.
Ater testing the patch for a few laps under caution, he brought the car into the pit and climbed out of the cockpit.
Power, who posted five victories in his first full season with Team Penske, suffered his first DNF of the season in the biggest race of his career.
“The championship is won over 17 races, not one," Power said. “Obviously, I’m very disappointed with the outcome. I really wanted to win this championship. It was at a point in the race where I felt I really had to push because Dario had led the most laps and was leading the race.
“I was trying to get around (Ryan) Hunter-Reay and I got up a little too high and brushed the wall and bent the suspension. The Verizon team had a great season and we have a lot to be proud of. This has been the best season of my career in motorsport and I've learned so much. We'll be coming back to win this thing next year.”
Added team owner Roger Penske: "It was a tough ending to a good season for Team Penske. Will and the Verizon team did a great job all year. Our congratulations go out to Dario and Chip (Ganassi) for winning the championship. We will be back strong next year."
Franchitti, who entered the race 11 points arrears, earned the title by five points with an eighth-place finish.
“It was all going really well until that last pit stop when we got back of the pack and everyone was going four-wide and banging wheels,” said Franchitti, who matched Sam Hornish Jr. with three titles and winning in consecutive seasons. “It was much more fun up front.
"I look back to the start of 2007 when I didn't win any championships. I had won a lot of races but not a championship. This is very satisfying and something I'm very proud of."
Franchitti, who won the race in 2009 at Homestead-Miami Speedway to clinch the championship over teammate Scott Dixon and Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe, similarly overcame a points deficit entering the season finale.
It was the fifth consecutive year that the championship was decided in the final race, and the fifth time in the past six years that the Indianapolis 500 winner also won the series championship.
Dixon, who started on the front row, held off Andretti Autosport teammates Danica Patrick and Tony Kanaan to win the race (the difference between the two was 0.0111 of a second). Briscoe finished fourth and Helio Castroneves was fifth.
“After I crossed the line, I said it wasn’t a win but it sure felt like one,” said Patrick, who matched her season-best finish and moved up one position to 10th in the standings (all four Andretti Autosport cars were in the top 10 of the standings). “This was a great way to end the season. We have had our high points and low points and the GoDaddy crew pulled it together for a strong end to the year. Hopefully we can continue to improve the car to be better for next year.”
There were 18 lead changes – an event record and second to the season-high 23 at Chicagoland Speedway.
Vitor Meira finished a season oval-best sixth, advancing 15 positions in the No. 14 ABC Supply Co. car for A.J. Foyt Racing, and Marco Andretti was seventh in the No. 26 Team Venom Energy for Andretti Autosport. Dan Wheldon, driving the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing car, and Graham Rahal in the No. 02 Quick Trim entry for Newman/Haas Racing also were in the top 10. Alex Lloyd clinched the Rookie of the Year award – a first for Dale Coyne Racing -- with a 12th-place finish.
Dixon's third victory of the season helped the two-time series champion hurdle Castroneves for third in the championship standings.
“It’s a big deal trying to get to third,” he said. “With so many yellows, it turned into a fuel race and we had a few rough restarts. This was a huge night for us, but more importantly for Dario for taking another championship. We definitely had a rough year and a lot of missed opportunities, but everyone is very excited about the outcome.”
Chip Ganassi Racing
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|Chip Ganassi Racing|
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|12 Apr||Briscoe returns to Ganassi for Indy 500|
|1 Aug '12||Pantano to sub for Kimball in Ohio|
|IndyCar Series: Miami 2010|
|3 Oct '10||Latest IndyCar photos: Saturday in Miami|
|3 Oct '10||Franchitti takes third IndyCar title as Dixon wins|
|2 Oct '10||Franchitti takes pole position at Homestead-Miami|
|23 Mar||Power secures pole at St. Petersburg|
|10 Sep '12||Video of the Day: Castroneves and Power dance|
|30 May '12||Video of the Day: Conway and Power's huge crash|
|30 May '12||BRDC congratulates drivers on race victories|
|29 May '12||Indy 500: The list of winnings|
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|1 Oct '11||Dixon heads opening Kentucky practice|
|18 Sep '11||Dixon claims victory at Motegi|
|17 Sep '11||Dixon grabs pole at Motegi|
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