Scott Dixon wins Indy Japan

MOTEGI, Japan -- The IndyCar championship race is going down to the wire -- again.

Scott Dixon won the Indy Japan 300 from the pole Sunday and Will Power finished second to take the points lead from Dario Franchitti, whose uncharacteristic slip-up helped set up a reprisal of last year's tight title race going into the final two events.

"I've got to give a lot of credit to Team Target," said Dixon, who won the Honda Indy 200 last month. "They gave me a great car with great pit stops and great fuel strategy."

Team Penske's Power moved into first place in the standings with 542 points, 11 ahead of Franchitti, who finished eighth after being penalized for hitting Ryan Briscoe's car on the 26th lap.

"It was a good day for us points-wise in the championship, but I'm really not worried about points right now," said Power, who finished 3.4375 seconds behind Dixon. "I just need to keep finishing in front of (Franchitti) the rest of the way and we'll be fine. We'll keep chipping away like we have been."

Marco Andretti finished third, Alex Tagliani was fourth and Oriol Servia took fifth.

Dixon's second IndyCar win of the season kept him in contention for the title, 59 points behind Power in third going into the races on ovals at Kentucky and Las Vegas.

Franchitti's chances of holding onto the points lead took a hit when he made contact with the right-rear of Briscoe's Team Penske car entering Turn 1.

"It was a stupid move on my part," said Franchitti, who started ninth. "I did a lot of hard work to get from ninth to fifth, and I'd been saving fuel the whole first stint. I thought there was a gap and Ryan was going wide on the entry and that was that."

Race officials levied an avoidable contact penalty on the reigning series champion, sending him to the rear of the field.

Last year, Franchitti overtook Power in the points standings in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway to win his second straight title and third in four years.

The deadly March 11 earthquake damaged the oval at Twin Ring, so Sunday's 63-lap race was held on the recently repaved 14-turn, 2.9-mile road circuit. Dixon also has won on the oval at Motegi, in 2009.

Danica Patrick, who started 23rd on the grid, moved up to finish 11th. Defending Indy Japan champion Helio Castroneves finished 22nd.

Sunday's race was the last IndyCar series event in Japan. Mobilityland Corp., a wholly owned unit of Honda Motor Co., announced in February that due to the global economic downturn the 2011 race will be the last.