FONTANA, Calif. — Ryan Hunter-Reay became the first American to win the IndyCar championship since 2006 with a nerve-racking final drive Saturday night in the season finale.
Will Power crashed out of the race 55 laps in and had to watch on television in street clothes as Hunter-Reay snatched the title away at Auto Club Speedway.
Hunter-Reay went into the finale trailing Power by 17 points, but once Power was out, he only needed to finish fifth or better. He worked his way into position to wrap it up but had to hold on over some intense final restarts. He crossed the line in fourth to win the title by three points.
Ed Carpenter won the race for his second career victory.
Power, the Australian who led by 17 points coming in, lost control of his car and spun hard into the outside wall.
It's the third consecutive year Power has gone into the finale with the title on the line and had an incident snatch away his chances.
He brushed the wall at Homestead in 2011 and lost the title by five points to Dario Franchitti. Last year, his points lead was gobbled up when another car hit him on pit road in the penultimate race, and he was involved in the 15-car accident that killed Dan Wheldon in the finale.
Power searched to find the words to describe his frustration. "I don't know what to say. It's depressing," he said as he watched Saturday's finish unfold without him. "Depressing to lose the championship again that way. Nothing I can say, mate, it's just depressing. I don't know what emotion to even feel right now."
Stenhouse wins, leads in Nationwide points
JOLIET, Ill. — Ricky Stenhouse edged past Kyle Busch and into the lead, then held on for the final 20 laps for a relatively easy victory in Saturday's Nationwide race.
Perhaps more important, he left Elliott Sadler even farther behind and took the series points lead for the first time since June.
Stenhouse, the 2011 series champion, earned his fifth victory of the year in NASCAR's No. 2 series, outlasting Busch to take the Dollar General 300 at Chicagoland Speedway. Stenhouse passed Busch on Lap 180.
"We knew if we won coming in here to Chicago that we would leave the points leader and that is what it is all about," Stenhouse said. "It is going to be tough, as you can see. Elliott was up front as well, and he runs good at every racetrack we have left as well. It is going to be a lot of fun."
Stenhouse finished 2.402 seconds ahead of Busch. Austin Dillon was third, followed by Sprint Cup regulars Brad Keselowski and Paul Menard.
Sadler, who led Stenhouse by a point coming in, finished eighth.
Trucks Record: Ryan Blaney became the youngest winner in series history, taking the caution-filled race at Iowa Speedway in Newton at 18 years, 8 months. Blaney, the son of Sprint Cup driver Dave Blaney, was making his third start in the series. Blaney held off Ty Dillon after a late restart on the 0.875-mile track. Dillon, 20, took the points lead from Timothy Peters, who was 19th to drop eight points back.
PENSKE Considers ALLMENDINGER: Roger Penske said he would consider rehiring AJ Allmendinger, the suspended NASCAR driver who was at the IndyCar season finale as his guest. Allmendinger failed a NASCAR drug test in July and was released by Penske Racing when his backup "B" sample also tested positive. He's participating in NASCAR's "Road to Recovery" program, and Penske said he felt the driver has been too reclusive.
AMERICAN LE MANS: Klaus Graf and Lucas Lohr teamed to win at Virginia International Raceway, running 135 laps in the four-hour race in a Honda ARX-03a to edge Chris Dyson and Guy Smith.
NHRA: Shawn Langdon earned the No. 1 qualifying position in Top Fuel at the O'Reilly Auto Parts Nationals, the first event in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs, in Concord, N.C. Langdon had a run of 3.807 seconds at 324.12 mph. Tim Wilkerson topped the Funny Car field, Vincent Nobile led Pro Stock and Andrew Hines was No. 1 in Pro Stock Motorcycle headed into today's eliminations.