Today, Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon were looking up at Ed Carpenter on the podium.
Carpenter won his first career race on Sunday, barely edging out Dario Franchitti in the Kentucky Indy 300 in his 113th career start. His photo-finish win is the sixth closest finish in IZOD IndyCar Series history.
While Dario didn’t get the win, he did have a fantastic day in the overall championship points standings. It didn’t look good for him early though, as he started outside of the top ten and Will Power led the first 49 laps from pole position.
The tables quickly turned in one pit stop. On lap 80, the first caution of the race came out for debris on the back stretch. Everyone came into pit during the yellow, and as Power was entering his pit stall, Ana Beatriz was leaving hers, and she made heavy contact with the left-rear of Power’s machine.
Power had a hole in the left side of his car, which took multiple stops to repair. Franchitti took the lead coming out of the pits. It was a 64 point swing in the championship standings for Dario.
It was an unusual incident for Power’s wife Liz, who works for Beatriz’s team, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.
Dario led the most laps on the day, giving him crucial bonus points heading into the final race of the season. Teammate Scott Dixon won the AJ Foyt Oval Championship over Dario by ten points, but Dixon was mathematically eliminated from the overall championship.
James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay finished behind Carpenter, Franchitti, and Dixon to round out the top five finishers.
Ana Beatriz brought out a caution on lap 167 when she lost control of her car, sliding backwards and hitting the wall. The final restart came with 22 laps to go, with the Ganassi teammates in first and second. Carpenter got around Dixon and challenged Dario on the outside until the very end.
It was a scary scene on pit road in the middle of the race. Three separate incidents saw crew members being struck by cars. On lap 139 Simona de Silvestro came into her pit stall sideways, wiping out one of her own crew members.
Just one lap later, Marco Andretti was racing Graham Rahal out of the pits, and ran into Alex Lloyd, who hadn’t yet made his stop. Marco was out of the race, a bitter disappointment considering he was running in second place for most of the race.
JR Hildebrand also had a problem coming into his pit stall, and pinned his left-front tire changer between his car and the wall.
Helio Castroneves had an engine failure on lap 36. He apparently had a leak somewhere in the engine. He has yet to win a race this season, putting one of the most impressive streaks in the sport in jeopardy. Helio has won at least one race every season for the past eleven years. His final chance to extend that streak will come in the season finale.
The final race can be seen on ABC at 3pm on Sunday October 16.
Franchitti will now take an 18 point lead into the final race of the season at Las Vegas. He had trailed Power by 12 points before today’s race.
Once again the final race of the season will decide the championship between Franchitti and Power. For both fans and participants of the sport, we couldn’t ask for anything more.