Saturday 15th September was another scorcher at the Auto Club Speedway, but the season finale was anything but boring. The Californian fans were kept on the edge of their seats until the very end of the 250-lap race that offered plenty of excitement but also some disappointment.
On Lap 15, Lotus driver Simona de Silvestro came into the pits and parked. The Lotus HVM Racing team was concerned about some over-boost issues, and felt it would be better to end her day at that moment. It was a heartbreaking moment for De Silvestro, for the team and for the Lotus staff, as everyone would have wanted to end the season on a happy note.
Tom Brown, technical director for Lotus HVM Racing: “We had over-boost issues right away and started to work on it," said . "It's an issue that plagued us all weekend. We had no pulling power and that was not a good situation to be in, at this track."
Simona de Silvestro commented on her weekend and her season: “It was a frustrating season, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, she said. We worked really hard to get the car ready and hoped that we would be competitive. I feel bad for the team. They worked crazy hours replacing two engines this weekend and it would have been nice to have been able to finish the season on a high note. We learned a lot this season and have to take that into what we expect to be a much better year next year.”
Vincent Pereme, Motorsport Engine Manager for Lotus Racing commented: “We had a trouble-free race on the engine side, but the team decided to retire 15 laps after the start of the race. Maybe it was due to the car settings, or the way the driver was feeling, it seems that the team considered it dangerous to keep going into the race in those conditions.
The positive point is that the engine did work well today, even if we all know that we were dramatically lacking in performance.
This is the end of a difficult season for Lotus, as a new IndyCar engine manufacturer, but we were up against two heavyweights in the series, GM and Honda. At least we understand now that it is important for us to go back and look at this program and prepare it properly before going back on track to challenge our competitors. We learned a lot this season even if it has been disappointing in terms of results and performance. We want to keep fighting and show that we are able to compete, and hope to be on track again soon.”
On Lap 55, points leader Will Power caught a seam in Turn 2 of the 2-mile oval, spun and made contact with the SAFER Barrier, leaving Ryan Hunter-Reay to chase after the Championship title. While everyone thought it was over for Power, the Penske team went back to the garage, fixed the chassis and the Aussie driver was able to rejoin the field for 11 laps. This gave Power the chance to move up one position and gain one more point in the standings. However, that was not enough, as Ryan-Hunter Reay finished fourth to capture the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Championship title for Andretti Autosport.
Ed Carpenter (#20 – Ed Carpenter Racing) won the race itself, earning his second IZOD IndyCar Series victory for the second consecutive year in the finale, followed by Dario Franchitti (#10 – Target Chip Ganassi Racing), with Scott Dixon (#9 – Target Chip Ganassi Racing) finishing third and Helio Castroneves (#3 – Team Penske) in fifth position.
|Race distance: 500 miles / 250 laps||Lead changes: 29|
|Time of race: 2:57:34||Winner’s average speed: 168.939 mph|
|Cautions: 10 for 43 laps|