Hunter-Reay earns first IndyCar Series title

American Ryan Hunter-Reay clinched his first IndyCar Series championship with a fourth-place finish in the season-ending race at the Auto Club Speedway track.

With temperatures soaring to 39 Celsius (103 Fahrenheit) on the 3.21 kilometre track for the second straight day on Saturday, Hunter-Reay benefited from an accident involving Australia's Will Power.

Power, of Toowoomba, Queensland, entered the race with a 17-point lead in the overall standings over Hunter-Reay, but the Power crashed into the wall on the 56th lap. Power made it back into the race but could only manage a few more laps before heading to the pits for good. He finished 24th.

Hunter-Reay's fourth place allowed him to win the championship by three points over Power, 468-465.

Hunter-Reay, who almost got tangled up in Power's wall smash, needed to finish sixth or better to win the title.

Hunter-Reay struggled early Saturday as he had to start in 22nd due to a penalty for an unapproved engine change.

American Ed Carpenter earned the second IndyCar victory of his career after passing Scotland's Dario Franchitti for the lead late in the race.

Hunter-Reay, who signed a two-year contract extension with Andretti Autosport on Saturday, became the first US driver to win the IndyCar championship since Sam Hornish in 2006.