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article imageINDYCAR: Franchitti hurt on final lap of second Houston race

By John Duarte     Oct 6, 2013 in Sports
Houston - Will Power won Race 2 of the IZOD IndyCar Series' Grand Prix of Houston, but the event was marred by a horrific crash that sent veteran driver Dario Franchitti to hospital with serious injuries.
The accident occurred during the final lap of the second race in the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston on Sunday. Franchitti was trying to get by Takuma Sato as the two battled for eighth place when the two cars collided, sending Franchitti's car airborne briefly and crashing into the safety fence surrounding the track. Sato said he was trying to get up to racing speed after tapping the wall.
“On the last lap, I caught the marbles and brushed the wall and lost momentum,” he said. “I got very loose and Dario and I came together.”
Franchitti was transported to Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center, where he was admitted with spinal and ankle fractures and a concussion. IndyCar medical director, Dr. Michael Olinger, issued a statement saying the fracture to Franchitti's spine would not require surgery.
Sato and E.J. Viso, who was caught in the aftermath of the crash, were evaluated at the scene and released. A track official and two spectators were also transported to a local hospital for evaluation and treatment.
The result of the race, which was overshadowed by the horrific crash, saw Power take the checkered flag. Finishing in second place was Scott Dixon, the winner of Race 1 on Saturday. James Hinchcliffe was third.
The second-place finish coupled with winning Race 1 vaulted Dixon into the lead of the IZOD IndyCar Series. He had come into the weekend trailing Helio Castroneves by 49 points and now sits 25 points up on the Brazilian. Dixon was happy with the outcome of the two Houston races.
“Another win would have been nice, but a decent weekend and a good turnaround for us in terms of the points,” he said, adding that a 25-point gap is nothing in racing terms. “It's still going to be a tough weekend at Fontana.”
For the eighth-consecutive year, the IZOD IndyCar Series championship will be decided in a shootout during the final race of the season. The MAVTV 500 will be held at Fontana's Auto Club Speedway, in California, on Oct. 19.
It was a terrible weekend for Castroneves. He had problems with the gear shift in Race 1 and finished 18 and was again bitten by gearbox issues in Race 2 and finished 23rd. The results left Castroneves scratching his head as he had come to Texas riding a streak of 12 consecutive Top-10 finishes.
“We had great luck for most of the season. Now, in a weekend, everybody's dream has become an interesting scenario,” said Castroneves. “The good news is we had a test there (at Auto Club Speedway) and it was extremely good.”
This isn't the first time Dixon and Castroneves do battle for the IndyCar title. In 2008, Dixon was ahead of Castroneves by 30 points in the standings with one race remaining in the season. Castroneves beat Dixon to the checkered flag by 0.0033 seconds, the second-closest finish in series history. Dixon won the title that year by 17 points.
Dixon doesn't have to win the 2013 MAVTV 500. No matter where Castroneves finishes in Fontana, Dixon can win his third IndyCar championship by simply finishing in the Top 5. Castroneves has never been IndyCar champion.
“It's going to be a heck of a race,” said Castroneves.
More about Dario Franchitti, will power, Scott Dixon, Helio castroneves, IZOD Indycar series
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