Scott Dixon, who started from pole, held off Will Power -- the new championship front-runner on a restart with two laps left to win the Indy Japan.
Marco Andretti finished third and Alex Tagliani was top Canadian in fourth. Danica Patrick was 11th, the first woman across the line. James Hinchcliffe of Oakville finished 15th after starting fifth.
Defending champion Dario Franchitti finished eighth but is now second in the standings with two races to go.
Earlier . . .
Qualifying for the IZOD IndyCar Series race in Japan shows the folly of "reading in" anything in practice times, which are frequently all over the map.
For instance, in the final practice before qualifying for tonight's race at the Twin-Ring Motegi road course, James Hinchcliffe of Oakville was first and Scott Dizon of New Zealand was fifth.
When qualifying ended, Dixon was on pole and Hinchcliffe was fifth. Go figure.
Dixon will start inside front row tonight (TSN, 11:30) alongside Will Power, who was flat-out fast right from the start of practice Friday. Graham Rahal and Ryan Briscoe are on row two with Hinchcliffe and Helio Castroneves right behind.
Defending champion Dario Franchitti is back in ninth. Alex Tagliani of Montreal will go off 15th. Fastest woman is Ana Beatriz, starting 21st.
At Circuit Paul Ricard in France today, Jean-Eric Vergne won the first Formula Renault 3.5 race of the weekend with Canadian Robert Wickens third. Wickens is still leading the series by 14 points over Vergne, but it's getting tight with three races to go.
Now, there's controversy in NASCAR about the possibility of race-fixing and who should be in the neighbourhood but one of the most famous race-fixers of all?
NASCAR President Mike Helton said this weekend that the sanctioning body will "look into" (which is different from "investigate," I guess) the possibility that a late-race spin at Richmond last weekend by Paul Menard might have helped his teammate, Kevin Harvick, go on to win the race.
Menard spun all by his lonesome and Harvick was then able to beat race leader Jeff Gordon off pit road and go on for the win. Gordon was the one who suggested the spin might not have been coincidence and, as you can imagine, everybody involved has denied any chicanery.
This is reminscent, of course, of Nelson Piquet Jr.'s deliberate spin at Singapore a few years ago that enabled his F1 teammate, Fernando Alonso, to win the Grand Prix. Everybody involved, and particularly Piquet Jr. and team boss Flavio Briatore, denied any chicanery.
As we all know, it turned out that Piquet had lost control on purpose on orders from Briatore.
Okay, that's as far as it goes. We'll have to wait to see what Helton decides but meantime, the NASCAR circus is in Chicago this weekend and there was a Craftsman Truck Series race Friday night at Chicagoland Speedway and who should finish third but our old friend Nelson Piquet Jr.
Austin Dillon won the race with Harvick - who had dominated the event before the last round of pit stops - second. And then came Piquet.
There's no connection, of course, but isn't it interesting that when there are suggestions of race-fixing, who should be hanging around but a race-fixer!
Steve Arpin of Fort Frances, Ont., won the pole for the race in his Mike's Hard Lemonade-sponsored No. 32 Chevrolet Silverado and set a track record in the process. He finished 16th. Arpin's five-race truck deal is now over and you can expect to see him running some stock car races in the near future.
Earlier . . .
Danica Patrick mentions last weekend, in reply to a question, that she’s a little on edge about going to Japan to race “because they’re still having earthquakes over there.”
The usual boo-birds vilify her for it.
And what happens? At about 5:15 local time Thursday afternoon, an earthquake measuring magnitude 6.2 was felt at Twin Ring Motegi, an email received from IndyCar reports.
"Just a little shaking to keep us all awake," driver Graham Rahal said.
"Interesting to sit in your hotel room and see your TV walk across the desk," added Ryan Hunter-Reay.
No quote available from Patrick, apparently. No damage to the 2.983-mile race course, either, which is a good thing because Will Power went out for first practice and topped the time chart with a lap of 1 minute, 39.4745 seconds and a speed of 107.955 miles an hour. Helio Castroneves (1:39.5965) was second and rookie James Hinchcliffe (1:39.8531) of Oakville placed third in the Sprott Newman/Haas Racing car.
Alex Tagliani (1:40.2649) of Montreal was sixth. The three women in the field, Patrick, Simona de Silvestro and Ana Beatriz were the three slowest drivers, in that order.
This race can be seen Saturday night at 11:30 on TSN.
The first race in the NASCAR Chase for the Championship will take place Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway. It can be seen at 2 p.m. on TSN2. The NASCAR Nationwide Series race is on TSN2 Saturday at 3:30. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race from Chicago can be seen tonight (Friday) on SPEED at 7:30.
If you prefer your racing live and in colour, where there’s a bit of a nip in the air and it’s NOISY, then I have these suggestions.
The Arrow Express presents the Canadian Sprint Car Nationals goes Saturday night at Ohsweken Speedeway on the Six Nations Reserve. Race time is 7:45. Upwards of 80 winged sprinters from Canada and the United States are expected to sign in. Tonight (Friday), the seventh annual Ohsweken Shootout and the Night Before the National races will be run, also with a 7:45 p.m. start.
At Mosport, the British Empire Motor Club is presenting its annual Indian Summer Trophy Races, Saturday and Sunday, featuring the three-hour War Bonnet Enduro. A full schedule of events is on offer each day. For free tickets, click here
Finally, although it might be a bit of a test to get there, the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series is racing at Riverside Speedway outside of Antigonish, N.S. (grab a flight to Halifax, rent a car and you can be at the speedway by race time, which is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. local time Saturday). Riverside is a fantastic facility, a “copy” of Bristol in the Maritimes.
Oh, and at Toronto Motorsports Park (a.k.a. Cayuga), the Ontario Street Car Association will hold is drag racing season finale. Don't red light, anybody!