2010 Indy Japan 300
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Heading into Saturday, only two races remained in the 2010 Izod IndyCar Series season, and the championship is coming down to the wire. Team Penske's Will Power raced to an early lead in the standings, his dominating performances on the road and street courses earning him the inaugural Mario Andretti award as the road course champ.

Team Target Chip Ganassi teammates Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon headed to Japan in second and third respectively and first and second in the oval championship standings. Power's lead before the green flag waved at Twin Ring Motegi was 17 points over Dario, the same lead Franchitti has over Dixon in the race for the A.J. Foyt oval champ award. This weekend's Indy Japan 300 was crucial, with the potential to end with both championships decided even though the season's final race at Homestead is still two weeks away.

Follow the jump to see how it played out.


Related GalleryIndyCar: 2010 Kentucky Indy 300

[Images: Jonathan Ferrey, Chris Graythen/Jiji Press/AFP/Getty, Shizuo Kambayashi, Greg Baker/AP]


2010 Indy Japan 300

Qualifying found Helio Castroneves at the top of the timing and scoring sheets, his Penske teammate, Ryan Briscoe, a tenth of a second behind him in second. Series leader Will Power was third, followed by his main title rival, Dario Franchitti. Behind Dario were three Andretti Autosports cars, but Danica Patrick was not among them. Although she won this race in 2008 to record her only IndyCar Series victory to date, the sometime swimsuit model could do no better than 12th.

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As has (unfortunately) become the norm this year, within seconds of the green flag flying, the yellow was out in its place. This week's first to go was Bertrand Baguette, the young Belgian who has shown incredible promise all season. His crash in Turn 2 brought out the yellow and several cars pitted during the cleanup. That staggered pit strategy could pay off in the end, but there were still 190-plus laps to run before we'd find out.

The restart on Lap 11 saw a back-and-forth battle begin between Dario Franchitti and Ryan Briscoe for second behind Helio Castroneves. The two swapped positions at just about every turn for a couple of laps before Franchitti remembered there were still over 180 laps to run and settled into third.

2010 Indy Japan 300

A problem with Alex Lloyd's car brought out another yellow around Lap 42, which turned out to be the perfect time for everyone to pit. When the race went back back to green seven laps later, it was Helio, Briscoe, Dario, Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti in the top five spots. Danica Patrick had moved up to sixth just ahead of Dixon, Dan Wheldon and Will Power. They stayed pretty much in those same spots until Mario Moraes went into the wall in Turn 2, bringing out the day's third caution.

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It took track officials quite a while to extricate Mario, but he was seen gesturing so his injuries didn't appear life-threatening. Most of the leaders used the opportunity to pit again, and on Lap 78 when green flag racing resumed, non-stopper Rafael Matos was out in front, followed by Hideki Mutoh and Helio Castroneves. By the halfway point, Briscoe and then Castroneves had moved past Matos, while Franchitti passed Mutoh for fourth.

Paul Tracy's was the next car to make contact with the wall, although it was just a brush. Still, the powers that be decided to bring out the full-course yellow, giving all racers a chance to refuel and make up whatever gaps they were facing under green. Alex Lloyd hit the same spot around Lap 148, his car skidding along the wall and catching fire in a scene eerily similar to Simona de Silvestro's incident earlier this year. Thankfully, Lloyd was able to get himself out much quicker.

2010 Indy Japan 300

Castroneves, Franchitti, Briscoe, Power, Patrick, Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Kanaan, Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal were the top ten when the racing back to green on Lap 168 of 200. The last laps ticked away with no major changes save one: Ryan Briscoe started slipping back. When the checkers flew it was Helio Castroneves claiming victory, followed by oval champ Dario Franchitti and Will Power, who goes into the final race of the season with a slim 12 point lead.

Join us October 2 for the final race from Miami-Homestead to see if Power can hold on and win the championship. And don't forget to check out the full results and standings below.

Related GalleryIndyCar: 2010 Kentucky Indy 300


Qualifying:
QP Car Driver Sponsor Team Time Speed
1 3 Helio Castroneves Team Penske Team Penske 54.1803 201.992
2 6 Ryan Briscoe Team Penske Team Penske 54.2873 201.594
3 12 Will Power Verizon Team Penske Verizon Team Penske 54.3226 201.463
4 10 Dario Franchitti Target Chip Ganassi Racing Target Chip Ganassi Racing 54.4574 200.964
5 26 Marco Andretti Team Venom Energy Andretti Autosport 54.6689 200.187
6 11 Tony Kanaan Team 7-Eleven Andretti Autosport 54.7169 200.011
7 37 Ryan Hunter-Reay Team IZOD Andretti Autosport 54.8233 199.623
8 8 E.J. Viso PDVSA-KV Racing Technology KV Racing Technology 54.8606 199.487
9 4 Dan Wheldon National Guard Panther Racing Panther Racing 54.9329 199.225
10 5 Takuma Sato (R) Lotus-KV Racing Technology KV Racing Technology 54.9423 199.191
11 9 Scott Dixon Target Chip Ganassi Racing Target Chip Ganassi Racing 54.9844 199.020
12 7 Danica Patrick Team GoDaddy.com Andretti Autosport 55.0130 198.935
13 34 Bertrand Baguette (R) RACB Conquest Racing Conquest Racing 55.0520 198.794
14 14 Vitor Meira ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing A.J. Foyt Enterprises 55.2867 197.950
15 19 Alex Lloyd (R) Boy Scouts of America Dale Coyne Racing 55.3969 197.556
16 02 Graham Rahal NHR/Quick Trim Newman/Haas Racing 55.4402 197.402
17 06 Hideki Mutoh Formula Dream/Panasonic Newman/Haas Racing 55.4517 197.361
18 22 Justin Wilson Team Z-Line Designs/DRR Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 55.5956 196.850
19 2 Raphael Matos HP de Ferran Dragon de Ferran Dragon Racing 55.6061 196.840
20 32 Mario Moraes KV Racing Technology KV Racing Technology 55.7060 196.460
21 36 Roger Yasukawa CWE Conquest Racing Conquest Racing 55.7524 196.296
22 24 Paul Tracy Motegi Racing Wheels/DRR Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 55.9198 195.709
23 77 Alex Tagliani FAZZT Race Team FAZZT Race Team 55.9844 195.483
24 78 Simona de Silvestro (R) Team Stargate Worlds/HVM HVM Racing 56.5403 193.561
25 18 Milka Duno CITGO Dale Coyne Racing 56.8439 192.527


Finishing Order:
FP Car Driver Team Laps Time Status Points
1 3 Helio Castroneves Team Penske 200 02:04:04.4780 Running 53
2 10 Dario Franchitti Target Chip Ganassi Racing 200 02:04:09.0526 Running 40
3 12 Will Power Team Penske 200 02:04:09.5523 Running 35
4 6 Ryan Briscoe Team Penske 200 02:04:10.9605 Running 32
5 7 Danica Patrick Andretti Autosport 200 02:04:12.0837 Running 30
6 9 Scott Dixon Target Chip Ganassi Racing 200 02:04:12.8421 Running 28
7 11 Tony Kanaan Andretti Autosport 200 02:04:13.8873 Running 26
8 02 Graham Rahal Newman/Haas Racing 200 02:04:16.1943 Running 24
9 37 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport 200 02:04:16.6905 Running 22
10 4 Dan Wheldon Panther Racing 200 02:04:16.9500 Running 20
11 26 Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport 200 02:04:19.9787 Running 19
12 5 Takuma Sato (R) KV Racing Technology 200 02:04:20.5473 Running 18
13 77 Alex Tagliani FAZZT Race Team 200 02:04:22.1554 Running 17
14 06 Hideki Mutoh Newman/Haas Racing 200 02:04:22.7591 Running 16
15 8 E.J. Viso KV Racing Technology 200 02:04:23.2129 Running 15
16 22 Justin Wilson Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 200 02:04:23.9073 Running 14
17 14 Vitor Meira A.J. Foyt Enterprises 200 02:04:24.5827 Running 13
18 2 Raphael Matos de Ferran Dragon Racing 200 02:04:25.7126 Running 12
19 18 Milka Duno Dale Coyne Racing 197 02:04:15.8904 Running 12
20 36 Roger Yasukawa Conquest Racing 195 02:04:17.7167 Running 12
21 19 Alex Lloyd Dale Coyne Racing 131 01:27:00.3441 Contact 12
22 24 Paul Tracy Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 114 01:08:35.9412 Contact 12
23 78 Simona De Silvestro Team Stargate Worlds/HVM 85 00:58:30.2743 Mechanical 12
24 32 Mario Moraes KV Racing Technology 66 00:39:41.1934 Contact 12
25 34 Bertrand Baguette Conquest Racing 1 00:00:30.9661 Contact 10


Driver's Standings:
CP Driver Champ Lead Oval Champ Road Champ Points Gap
1 Will Power X X 587 0
2 Dario Franchitti X 575 -12
3 Helio Castroneves 501 -86
4 Scott Dixon 497 -90
5 Ryan Briscoe 450 -137
6 Ryan Hunter-Reay 426 -161
7 Tony Kanaan 418 -169
8 Dan Wheldon 366 -221
9 Marco Andretti 366 -221
10 Justin Wilson 349 -238


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