Hunter-Reay with the US Flag

The IZOD IndyCar Series’ return to Auto Club Speedway after a seven-year absence for its championship-crowning race has been voted the Individual Sports Top Moment for 2012.

The announcement was made March 3 during the eighth LA Sports Awards show in Beverly Hills, Calif.

The MAVTV 500, won by Ed Carpenter of first-year IZOD IndyCar Series team Ed Carpenter Racing, featured the subplot of the series championship showdown between Will Power of Team Penske and Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport. Power led by 17 points entering the 250-lap race on the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway oval.

Driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, Power crashed early in the race in Turn 2. The crew worked feverishly to repair the car, which returned to competition to force Hunter-Reay to claim a top-five finish to secure the title. The tense, compelling second half of the race, which featured 29 lead changes, fell in Hunter-Reay’s favor as he finished fourth to earn the championship by a scant three points.

It was the closest margin since 2006, when the series last had an American champion. Auto Club Speedway hosts the season finale again this year (Oct. 19).

The Los Angeles Sports Council asked fans to help select the greatest moments in sports for 2012 in the Los Angeles/Orange County area through voting in 14 categories from Jan. 10-31.

Awards also were presented to the Sportsman (Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick), Sportswoman (Olympic volleyball gold medalists Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh), Sports Executive (AEG CEO Tim Leiweke) and Coach of the Year (the Kings’ Darryl Sutter).

The LA Kings’ Stanley Cup victory was named the top sports moment of 2012.

The LA Sports Council is a non-profit organization and will utilize the event’s proceeds to further its mission of promoting economic development through sports in Southern California.