In the age-old argument between NASCAR and open-wheel racing, one of the main points of contention has been oval track versus road course. IndyCar happens to be at the cross-section of this debate, with one-third of its fifteen races run on oval tracks, including the season finale at Auto Club Speedway (formerly California Speedway).

Going into the race, Will Power carried a 17-point lead in the overall standings. The championship was his to lose, and lose it he did. While running in 12th place, Power "caught a seam," which sent the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car into a barrier, and seemingly out of the race. The championship was now in the hands of Ryan Hunter-Reay, who needed to finish in sixth in order to claim the championship by just one point. The crash left Power helpless; the driver could only watch the race from his team's transporter and hope that Hunter-Reay would finish worse than sixth.

Ahead of Hunter-Reay was Tony Kanaan, who crashed on lap 241, resulting in a red flag. Upon the lap 244 restart, the 31-year-old Floridian was running in third, and lost two positions in those final laps. However, a crash by Takuma Sato ensured a 4th place finish for Hunter-Reay, and a three point lead in the final season standings. In winning Hunter-Reay became the first American to win the IndyCar Championship since Sam Hornish, Jr. in 2006.
Finishing first in the season finale was Ed Carpenter, who was the first owner/driver to win a race since Adrian Fernandez did so in 2004.

Missing from the reason finale was driver Mike Conway. The A.J. Foyt Racing team driver said he was "not comfortable" with taking on the two-mile super speedway, and understandably so. Two years ago, at the Indy 500, Conway, 29, was involved in a terrific crash that sent his car airborne and into the fence, tearing it to pieces. It took Conway out of the 2010 IndyCar season, retiring to the sport in April of 2011.

Speed reported on Conway's apology to this team and sponsor, saying, "I've come to realize I'm not comfortable on the ovals and no longer wish to compete on them. I want to stress that I am not finished racing."

Given the number of oval tracks on the IndyCar schedule, Conway's future in the race series is unclear. He will have the off season between now and the 2013 IndyCar campaign to ponder his future with the sport.