Dixon had a decent car and led twice for five laps but it was not in the same category as the winning car driven by Power, who was in front six times for 103 laps of the 250-lap race. Ryan Hunter-Reay — last year’s IndyCar champion — led twice for 45 laps, Bourdais four times for 35 laps and Castroneves three times for 27 laps.
“I think we were one of the better cars out there,” Dixon said. “Will Power did a great job tonight. He was extremely fast, was just kind of hooked up. He could run on the bottom, the top, pick where he needed to go, head straight out speed. Maybe in the right scenario, we could have done it.
“The crunch came towards the end. I wasn’t aware, apparently we had an overheating issue for quite some time with the engine. Last year we had a similar issue here. We had an overheating alarm come on. I had it on for the last 50 or 60 laps. When you have an alarm on, you can’t see anything on your dash. You can’t control the weight jacker or anything like that. This year I made sure they took it off. But I didn’t know there was a problem. I guess that was kind of a good thing.
“When I knew there was an issue was when they were pitting me out of sequence. Going into three, they started yelling, Pit, pit, pit. I knew we had a problem. Didn’t know the extent of it. But to catch that yellow, to understand under that yellow that Helio had an issue as well and lost a lap was the perfect scenario.
“I just sort of maintained the car for the rest of the night. They tried to pull as much as they could out of the radiator and some off the side pod to help cool it. The engine ran OK toward the end. It was still getting pretty hot, but it was going to be pretty tough to lose it at that point with sort of 15 laps to go.”
On the flipside, Castroneves saw his championship hopes fade for yet another time in his career. But rather than see his season end in tears, Castroneves was all smiles afterwards, perhaps masking his disappointment but realizing he had one of the better seasons in his racing career and proving to the skeptics that is still capable of contending for championships.
“It was a great championship,” Castroneves said. “We did everything we could in our side to bring home the championship. Unfortunately we didn’t finish the position we wanted. But I tell you what, I had a great time. It was awesome. I went for it. I was driving my heart out there. I was pushing to the limit. The AAA boys did a great job, too. It’s a shame that we end up having contact with 83 (Kimball), breaking our front wing. But I knew it would be very hard-fought with those guys. My only chance was to be aggressive, and that’s what we did.”
There were no tears shed by Castroneves, at least not in public any way.
“I can’t take for granted the season we had,” Castroneves said. “Yes, so close, so far. I would say a lot of little things. If you see the way we finish, you got to finish outside the five, you didn’t finish. I didn’t win, so basically if I lose by one point or two points, that would be hard to swallow.
“In the end of the day, you can’t take the credit from the Ganassi guys and Scott. One weekend unfortunately for us cost a lot of points. Unfortunately it was nobody’s prediction. We did everything we could to avoid any kind of mechanical failure. The only time we had a mechanical failure in the whole season, that’s what cost the season. We can’t look back. We just got to continue working hard. This is part of racing. That’s why I’m taking it OK. I’m ready to come back actually next year and start all over again.”