The engines were refired after a 4 minutes, 56 second delay and racing resumed with Franchitti in the lead just six laps from the checkered flag. Hunter-Reay had moved up to third place and was locked in a battle with Sato as the laps were winding down.
On the white flag lap, Franchitti was in the lead but Carpenter passed the three-time Indy 500 for the lead just moments before Sato spun and crashed in Turn 2 to bring out the yellow flag, give Carpenter his second career IndyCar victory and Hunter-Reay the championship.
After Hunter-Reay won the Grand Prix of Baltimore on September 2 Andretti vowed that he was going to win the championship. Hunter-Reay backed up Andretti's guarantee by delivering the championship the fourth for the team. Tony Kanaan won the title in 2004, the late Dan Wheldon in 2005 and Franchitti in 2007.
Add Hunter-Reay's name to that list as IZOD IndyCar Series champions for Andretti Autosport.
"He did it man; he did a great job," Andretti said. "He just did a hell of a job there at the end. When he needs to step it up he steps it up. He got us this championship. I'm really proud of him. This is a game of inches and when Will Power spun we got away with it.
"It's an unbelievable weekend. We won the pole with Marco Andretti and won the championship. But it was big-time tense. This was a team effort and we have a great driver. This is the best championship. This one means the most. The pressure was on until the last lap. We had to keep our composure and get the job done. And it came down to the last lap of the last race to win the championship.
"You can't beat IndyCar racing it's the best in the world."
Hunter-Reay's wife, Beccy, was jubilant as she ran down pit lane to greet her husband in the biggest moment of his racing career. But she stopped on pit lane to get congratulations from someone who made a surprising return to the season-finale.
It was Susie Wheldon, the widow of the late Dan Wheldon who was killed in horrific crash in last year's IZOD IndyCar Series season-finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
It was yet another moment that added to this unbelievable "Dream Sequence" on a surreal night in the Inland Empire of California.
"Beccy, I'm so happy for you," Susie Wheldon said to Beccy Hunter-Reay.
"You said it you said what is meant to be is meant to be," Beccy said to Susie Wheldon.
"The red flag was not what Ryan needed at the time but maybe it calmed him down," Beccy Hunter-Reay said. "And oh my God, I just realized that Ed Carpenter won. Oh my Gosh. And I used to work at California Speedway. I did my internship here. I can't tell you how insane this is. We had 38 family members here. This is amazing."
Hunter-Reay was able to stop on pit lane for a massive celebration with his crew.
"This team did an excellent job," he said. "We were lost on setup and we had three great teammates that helped and this was a teammate. The only reason I won the championship today was a total team effort. When that red flag came out I didn't want to see it because I had a rhythm going. I was going to go full-out or I was crashing. There was tons of doubt tonight but we just kept at it. That's what we have done all season.
"When we were 37 points back at Baltimore I didn't think this was possible but we were going to give it a shot."
At that point, a fellow driver dressed it street clothes made his way through the crowd to congratulate Hunter-Reay on his victory.
That driver was Power, the man who had fought so hard; come so close to winning championships each of the past three seasons only to suffer the bitter disappointment of seeing his dream turn into a nightmare by hitting the wall.
"You deserve this championship," Power told Hunter-Reay. "You were the best driver all season."
While Hunter-Reay's crew continued to celebrate Power made the long walk down pit road flanked by his public relations representative Merrill Cain. He had time to reflect on yet another dream turned into a nightmare.