Long Beach GP | IndyCar Race | Scott Dixon scores 57th win after fuel saving masterclass

Photo credit: Chip Ganassi Racing
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After grabbing Meyer Shank Racing’s first (official) pole, Felix Rosenqvist led the field to the green flag on Shoreline Drive, but Will Power had the better run to turn 1 on the green (option) tyres. The Ozzy overtakes the Swede around the outside, while further back Arrow McLaren-colleagues Pato O’Ward and Alexander Rossi tangle as the former hits the latter in the rear at the fountain section.

Christian Rasmussen tries to overtake Agustín Canapino in the hairpin, but in doing so he loses a spot to Theo Pourchaire. Rinus VeeKay overtakes Linus Lundqvist, while last year’s winner Kyle Kirwood overtakes Marcus Armstrong into turn 7.

The next lap VeeKay utilises his soft tyres to perfection as he passes Romain Grosjean, Tom Blomqvist and Alexander Rossi in one lap. Rossi immediately enters the pits as he has significant damage from the punt by O’Ward, who is penalise with a drive-through penalty by race control

Pole man Rosenqvist keeps dropping back, being passed by compatriot Marcus Ericsson. He loses a few more spots in the following laps and is sixth after eight laps.

The first caution in the race is caused by Rasmussen, who spins coming out of turn for. He collects the innocent Jack Harvey before hitting the wall, causing damage to the Dale Coyne-car. When the pitlane is opened Power stops, together with Scott Dixon and Christian Lundgaard. The latter hits Kirkwood while coming out of his box, but both can continue.

Josef Newgarden leads away the field as the restart. Rossi passes rookie Nolan Siegel in the next lap into turn 1, and two places back it is Dixon who passes Power on Shoreline Drive, virtually putting the Kiwi in first place. Lundgaard is penalised for his unsafe release and has to drop back five spots behind Lundqvist, who he promptly overtakes the next time they get at turn 1.

VeeKay is the first one to stop under green in lap 29, in an attempt to drop him into clean air. Rosenqvist follows a lap later to cover the undercut, as Pourchaire also enters the pits for his first IndyCar stop. He get’s away without any issues and continues to impress on his sudden debut.

Newgarden, Ericsson and Grosjean follow another lap later, followed by Álex Palou in lap 32. The Spaniard comes back in front of Ericsson, and the Swede tries to overtake but Palou defends perfectly. Colton Herta stops next and comes back on track ahead of the squabbling duo.

Up front it is Dixon who has indeed taken the lead, followed by Power and Kirkwood, with all drivers clearly on a fuel-saving strategy as they stopped short of the fuel window. Further back Newgarden is passing cars left, right and center, in an attempt to close the gap to the front, knowing that if the front runners can make their fuel strategy work he has to pass them on track.

Graham Rahal is the first of the drivers on the fuel-saving strategy to stop for a second time, but his fuel hose has issues. Dixon and Power stop a lap later in lap 53, with the Chip Ganassi-driver coming back on track straight into the path of Pourchaire, but he stays ahead of the French rookie. Kirkwood stops a lap later, handing the lead back to Newgarden.

The American is really putting the pedal to the metal, stringing together a few very fast laps in an attempt to open up the gap to Dixon and Power.

It’s again Rinus VeeKay who opens the next round of “conventional” pitstops in lap 57. Grosjean follows a lap later and another lap later it is race leader Newgarden who makes his final stop. The Penske-driver comes back on track between Dixon and Power, some seven seconds behind the six-time champion.

After the remaining pitstops have cycled through Dixon leads for Newgarden, Herta, Power and Palou. With 18 laps to go the gap from Dixon to Newgarden is reduced to 2,5 seconds, proving that Newgarden really has the bit between his teeth. Dixon in the meantime lets his team know he’s on his limit in regard to fuel saving.

With 15 laps to go Newgarden is properly in Dixon’s gearbox, and with the two-time champion having more fuel to spare the overtake for the win seems just a matter of time. His teammate Scott McLaughlin hit the wall coming out of turn 4, forcing the Kiwi to limp back to the pits.

Up front Dixon still leads for Newgarden, with Herta and Palou closing in fast, adding a sense of urgency to Newgarden’s bid to win the race. And when the leading pack comes close to a bunch of backmarkers, Sting Ray Robb almost punts Kyffin Simpson at the end of Seaside Way. He does manage to complete the pass on Shoreline Drive, but their squabbles add additional complexity to the battle up front.

In the meantime the tarmac in the hairpin also starts to give up, as a part of the seam between the two surfaces comes loose. Newgarden almost stalls after he gets hit by Herta in the hairpin, dropping the championship leader back to fourth. It gives Dixon the necessary breathing space to safely overtake backmarker Santino Ferrucci. The A.J. Foyt-driver makes way for the four other front runners, but Dixon quickly puts Siegel in between him and his challengers.

When the rest pass Siegel it is Newgarden who has to take a lot of risk to pass the Dale Coyne-driver into the hairpin, putting him under pressure from Ericsson. Chip Ganassi’s Simpson is the next backmarker, who, obviously, lets Dixon and Palou by quickly, but tries to hold back Herta and Newgarden.

With no penalty for Herta’s punt, the final two laps go between Dixon and Herta for the win. However, since the Andretti-driver has had to use his push-2-pass seconds to get by the backmarkers he cannot launch a proper attempt. This means Scott Dixon takes his 57th IndyCar victory, for a 20th consecutive season. Herta follows close behind with Palou in third. Newgarden eventually finishes fourth for Ericsson. Power finished sixth, Kirkwood seventh and Grosjean eighth. Polesitter Rosenqvist ended up in ninth, with Rossi rounding up the top 10 after a great comeback.