Race Report: MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway

FONTANA, Calif. Oct. 19—Takuma Sato and the ABC Supply team gave it their best shot in the MAVTV 500 as the IZOD IndyCar Series closed out their season at Auto Club Speedway Saturday night.

Will Power won the race while his teammate Helio Castroneves mounted a valiant challenge to snare the title from Scott Dixon but to no avail. Dixon’s fifth place finish yielded enough points for him to secure his third IndyCar championship with Target Ganassi Racing. Castroneves was second. Third through fifth were Simon Pagenaud, Power and Marco Andretti.

After a crash in yesterday’s practice which required extensive repairs to the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda, Sato missed qualifying and started at the rear of the 25-car grid.  Sato showed no ill effects from his accident as he charged ahead at the drop of the flag this evening.

Through quick pit work and driving a clean smart race, Sato was able to move up the grid. Halfway through the 250-lap race, he was running in 14th place.  Sato was up to 13th when he lost power and was forced to drop out of the race after 144 laps.

“We had a motor problem,” said Team Owner A.J. Foyt. Several entries had engine issues which caused early exits. Sato was credited with a 17th place finish in the race and ended the season 17th in the point standings.

“Tonight was a tough race but we fought hard and the ABC Supply boys did a great job in the pits,” said Sato afterwards. “We were gradually moving up. We wanted to finish high tonight but overall I think we had a fantastic season. We had difficulty mid-season but we came back strong. I just want to say a big thank you to everyone on our team for a tremendous year!"

Six of the race’s seven cautions were for crashes including a multi-car crash which sent Justin Wilson to the hospital. He suffered non-operable pelvic fractures and a small pulmonary contusion. He is expected to be released from the hospital on Sunday.

Following Power across the line were Ed Carpenter (last year’s race winner), Tony Kanaan, James Hinchcliffe and Dixon. Only nine cars were running at the checkered flag.

The Series announced an 18-race schedule for 2014 which will include three doubleheaders and a new race on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The five-month long  series will not be running at Brazil or Baltimore next year.