INDYCAR SERIES PEAK Antifreeze And Motor Oil Indy 300

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Castroneves wins race; Dixon claims championship

Sep 7, 2008 - 11:28 PM JOLIET, Illinois (Ticker) -- Helio Castroneves won Sunday's season-ending PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300, but Scott Dixon claimed the more important prize.

By virtue of finishing second, the New Zealander won the 2008 IndyCar Series championship. Dixon needed only to finish eighth or better to win his second title and first since 2003.

It was a sweet ending for Dixon, who lost both the race and the championship to Dario Franchitti last year at Chicagoland Speedway when he ran out of fuel two turns from the finish.

The New Zealander became the fourth straight Indianapolis 500 winner to go on to earn the series championship, following Dan Wheldon, Sam Hornish Jr. and Franchitti.

Dixon, who came into the race with a 30-point lead, wound up winning the title and the $1 million bonus by 17 points.

"It's been an amazing year, starting with marrying my beautiful wife, Emma, and just a great race season," Dixon said.

It was hardly a great race for Dixon, who did not lead until 15 laps from the end and fell as far back as 11th in the middle of the 200-lap event.

"We were trying to work out were where we needed to be and I think I got a little complacent in the middle there," said Dixon, who started on the front row. "Some of those guys are so quick, some people we didn't expect to be racing with.

"We got shuffled back in line a little bit but what a great day. I still can't believe it."

Castroneves, who started last in the 28-car field, barely edged Dixon by one-thousandth of a second - the closest finish in series history - to deny Dixon a series-record seventh win of the season.

"I knew I won it, I knew," said Castroneves after learning he won the race. "We tried everything, everything, to win. We did everything we could.

"Scott Dixon and those guys, they had a little better luck and they wound up winning the championship. Congratulations to them."

Ryan Briscoe finished third, followed by Tony Kanaan, Will Power and Wheldon.

Castroneves fell short of the championship despite a valiant effort.

The Brazilian, who qualified fourth Saturday, had his four-lap qualifying run disqualified by Indy Racing League chief steward Brian Barnhart for running below the white line numerous times and was forced to start at the rear of the field.

It was the second straight week Castroneves was penalized by IndyCar officials, following his blocking penalty at Detroit which allowed Justin Wilson to win the race and dropped the Brazilian to second.

In order to secure his first title, Castroneves needed to win the 200-lap race on Sunday, combined with Dixon finishing 11th or lower.

History seemed to be against the Brazilian, as the lowest a driver has won at Chicago is 10th - when Adrian Fernandez accomplished the feat in 2004.

And before Castroneves' win on Sunday, only one driver had ever won from the last starting spot in IndyCar history - Buddy Lazier at Phoenix in 2000.

But Castroneves made an exciting dash to the front of the pack - going from worst to first in 77 laps. In the end, it wasn't enough.

"We tried to keep everything that happened behind and keep racing," Castroneves said. "I had no doubt that we'd have a good car. It was a big task but, like I said, we believed, we did everything possible.

"But unfortunately Scott was right there, too. I have to congratulate Team Ganassi, but what a great finish, what a wild race. It was kind of a little close but I'm extremely happy for the way it came out here."

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