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article imageINDYCAR: Dixon rides 'the five-year thing' to his third title

By John Duarte     Oct 20, 2013 in Sports
Fontana - Plenty of drama unfolded during the finale of the IZOD IndyCar season, as two veterans of the racing series lay it all on the line for the championship title.
For the eighth-consecutive year, the IZOD IndyCar Series championship was decided in the final race of the season. California's Auto Club Speedway was the setting for Scott Dixon to capture his third series championship, five years after winning his second. Ironically, Dixon won his first title in 2003 and his second came five years later, in 2008.
“I guess the five-year thing played out,” Dixon said, commenting on the gaps between championships. “The ups and downs make you realize that it's not that easy to win races.”
Dixon was dialled in the latter part of the 2013 IndyCar season. Helio Castroneves had been in control of the drivers' standings until Dixon blew past him in true racing fashion in the closing races of 2013. Dixon and Castroneves headed into the MAVTV 500 separated by 25 points. Castroneves said before the race that he “had nothing to lose” and would “go for it” during the season's closing race. He knew he had a task ahead of him. Castroneves had to finish first or second in the MAVTV 500 to have a chance to win the championship and, even then he would need some help. Dixon was in control. Finishing fifth or better would win him the title, regardless where Castroneves ended the race. Dixon finished fifth, while Castroneves was sixth.
“It was a crazy day,” Dixon said. “We had to work on strategy a bit, we had to work on the car a lot, and then we had an issue with some overheating problems toward the end.”
Castroneves, who won one race in 2013 and finished 15 others in the Top 10, said the California race summed up the whole season. And while he confirmed he was disappointed in the outcome, the always-positive Castroneves refused to look back at what could have been and focused on what can be.
“That's been the theme for this year, another Top 10,” he said. “It's was just an awesome race. I was having a great time and really going for it. I'm certainly disappointed, but it's not the first time. There's nothing you can do about it. We just need to bounce back and look to 2014.”
As for the race itself, Will Power won the MAVTV 500, for his second straight win and third of the season. Ed Carpenter finished second and Tony Kanaan was third. Power said it felt great to end the year on a high note.
“That was the most satisfying win of my life,” he said of his second career win on an oval track. “I wanted to do it so badly all year. I knew in the early ovals I just was kind of conservative because I just wanted to finish every lap. And this time, I'm going for it.”
The 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season ended on a somewhat tumultuous note, with crashes in the final two races of the year sending drivers to hospital with serious injuries.
Only nine cars were running at the end of the MAVTV 500 after a wreck halfway through the race took out six cars and sent Justin Wilson to hospital for evaluation. Wilson was transported to a local hospital after suffering a pulmonary contusion and non-operable pelvic fractures.
On Oct. 6, Dario Franchitti suffered a concussion, a broken ankle and fractured vertebrae during the final-lap crash at the second race in Houston. The fracture to the vertebrae didn't require surgery, but Franchitti underwent a second procedure on the ankle fracture this week.
IndyCar teams and drivers will now begin preparing for the 2014 IZOD IndyCar Series season. Racing gets underway with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, on March 30 in Florida, and concludes with the MAVTV 500, on Aug. 30 in California. The doubleheader weekends introduced this year in Detroit, Houston and Toronto and were hugely popular with fans will return in 2014 on May 31-June 1, June 28-29 and July 19-20 respectively.
The condensed schedule will feature 18 races over 15 weekends and includes a new race, the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, the will run on an infield road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and leading up to the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500, on May 25. Mark Miles, chief executive officer of IndyCar's parent company, Hulman & Co., said changes to the format and duration of the season reflect a commitment to providing the ultimate entertainment experience for fans and part of a long-range plan for the series.
“We decided to condense the season in order to accomplish that and we’ll stop on Labor Day weekend, so it’s a more condensed North American circuit but it’s not less racing. It’s kind of a transition toward 2015 when we grow back again,” Miles said. “We have a clear strategy about the calendar, which will take us a couple of years to totally reveal and put into place, but I'm confident it will make for a more compelling race schedule.”
More about IZOD Indycar series, Scott Dixon, Helio castroneves, will power, Justin Wilson
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