HOUSTON — Scott Dixon took control of the IndyCar championship race when Helio Castroneves suffered his second mechanical failure in two days at the Grand Prix of Houston, where the race ended when Dario Franchitti’s car went airborne into the fence on the final lap.
The accident in Turn 5 happened when Franchitti, the four-time IndyCar champion, made contact with Takuma Sato. Franchitti’s car launched over Sato’s and sailed into the fence, showering debris into the grandstand before Franchitti’s car came back onto the track.
E.J. Viso then hit Sato’s car. The caution came out to freeze the field, allowing Penske Racing’s Will Power to win the race and halting Dixon’s final attempt for a doubleheader sweep.
Dixon settled for second. After coming into the Houston doubleheader trailing Castroneves by 49 points, Dixon goes into the Oct. 19 season finale with a 25-point lead.
There was no celebration, though, for Dixon or Power, who raced to his second victory of the season.
Both had to drive through the wreckage from the three-car accident and past Franchitti, who sat inside his car waiting for medical attention.
Dixon waved to his teammate and got only a slight head nod back, and team owner Chip Ganassi rode a scooter out to the scene. Franchitti was placed on a stretcher and taken by ambulance to a hospital complaining of a sore ankle and back.
“Dario definitely got into the fence pretty hard,” Dixon said. “All in all I hope that he’s OK and obviously the fans. The fence took a pretty good hit there.”
It appeared parts and pieces from Franchitti’s car flew into the grandstand. IndyCar said one series official was taken to a hospital to be treated for minor injuries. There was no immediate word on potential injuries to fans.
Vettel wins Korean Grand Prix: In Yeongam, South Korea, Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel won an eventful Korean Grand Prix on Sunday to close in on his fourth straight Formula One championship.
The German led throughout the race, but two safety-car periods and significant graining on his tires made for a hard-fought win.
He finished 4.2 seconds ahead of Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen, who was just ahead of teammate Romain Grosjean.
Vettel now leads the drivers’ championship by 77 points with only five races remaining and looks increasingly certain to win the title.
“It’s not great getting stuck behind the safety car, but all in all it was fantastic,” Vettel said. “It was good to have the safety car come out just a couple of corners before the pit entry.”
That allowed Vettel to immediately stop without losing any time.
His nearest championship rival, Fernando Alonso, finished in sixth place, all but ending the Spaniard’s hopes.
Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg put in a superb defensive drive over the last 17 laps by holding off a queue of world champions behind him after the second safety-car period ended, finishing fourth.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was fifth, just holding off Alonso.
on the last lap. Mercedes Nico Rosberg took seventh by passing eighth-placed Jenson Button in the closing stages.
Ferrari’s Felipe Massa was ninth and McLaren’s Sergio Perez tenth.
It was Perez’s spectacular tire failure on lap 31 of 55 that brought out the safety car for the first time, and it was only in for a lap before it had to re-emerge because Force India’s Adrian Sutil collided with Red Bull’s Mark Webber, causing the Australian’s car to burst into flames.