Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon has taken his first ever Verizon IndyCar Series win on the streets of Long Beach after holding off Helio Castroneves.
His win saw him move up to fourth in the list of all time wins with 36, but arguably it was the Chip Ganassi crew that helped Dixon take the win with a strong pit stop game that kept him ahead of Team Penske’s Auto Club Speedway backed Helio Castroneves.
Indeed, Dixon struck early with his first pit stop on lap 29 being lightning fast and sending him out into the lead helped in part because of his Ganassi team mate Tony Kanaan coming into the pits and making Castroneves hold in his box for an extra few seconds. With only one short caution period very early on, Dixon had to do a lot of defending to make sure of his victory but more pit stop magic certainly helped.
When the Penske driver made another stop on lap 55, the speed of his crew sadly made no difference as Dixon was already six-tenths ahead going into turn one at the end of his own out lap.
“This is huge,” Dixon said. “I love the event, but as far as coming here and doing well it hadn’t been on that list. That pit stop exchange definitely helped us get to the lead but the car was fast and all we had to do was maintain that lead.”
For Castroneves, his runners up spot is the 37th of his career but he did managed to get ahead of St Petersburg winner Juan Pablo Montoya in the sister Chevrolet powered Team Penske machine as well as yet another Penske competitor – Simon Pagenaud in fourth.
Fifth place was the earlier mentioned Kanaan, who was followed by Sebastien Bourdais, Josef Newgarden, and Marco Andretti clocking over the line in eighth.
There were surprisingly no retirements considering the tight and twisty nature of the Long Beach track however, quite a few drivers finished off the lead lap. Will Power finished a lap down, Francesco Dracone was two laps down, with Luca Filippi and Stefano Coletti a handful more laps behind.
Taking honours as the top placed rookie this time out was Gabby Chaves in the Bryan Herta Autosport Honda.