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Was Long Beach really Scott Dixon’s greatest IndyCar drive yet?

The six-time IndyCar champion produced his 57th career win with another virtuoso drive at Long Beach that owed as much to his strategist Mike Hull as his sublime fuel-saving skills.

Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Photo by: Jake Galstad

You can read all about the strategy here, with Hull revealing the lap that Dixon needed to get to in order to make his final pitstop and have enough fuel to reach the finish.

Also, we should tip our hat to Honda, which again showed its economical prowess and swept the entire podium.

But let’s focus on the genius of the man behind the wheel: Dixon's last five race wins have come from eighth, 11th, 16th, 15th and 14th on the grid – so you could argue that technically this was his easiest!

His last ‘regular’ win was at Toronto in 2022, where he qualified on the front row and ended quite a win drought for the No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing team at the time. On that day he matched Mario Andretti's tally of 52 wins.

His Long Beach success (only his second here) also means he’s registered a win for the 20th consecutive IndyCar season, which is an amazing achievement in such a competitive series. It again owes much to the consistency of Ganassi’s team, which he joined in 2002.

Having also scored four wins out of the last six races at the end of last season, it’s clear he’s got his reigning champion team-mate Alex Palou in the No. 10 sister car in his sights for another title this year.

But how did this victory compare to those other remarkable fuel strategies and comeback drives?

“It ranks on the stressful meter pretty high,” Dixon admitted. “Yeah, that one was up there.

“I think Nashville maybe beat that a couple years ago, where we didn't take tyres on the last stop, we tried to be crafty and do 50 or 60 laps on a set of tyres. That was pretty wild!

“This one was up there because [the chasing pack on the regular strategy] were coming hard and fast. They were going to get to us with eight to 10 laps to go.

“Even the scenario [of] do you push and maintain track position over maybe not finishing? It's kind of a hard decision to make.”

Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, makes his crucial second pitstop

Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, makes his crucial second pitstop

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt

In the closing stages of the race, Dixon came under huge pressure from Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden. Although he knew that his rival could push harder, this is where Dixon’s ice-cold mind knew that Newgarden's advantage would dissolve in time around the tight street circuit.

“The pressure was coming hard and strong,” he said. “But I knew they would burn their tyres off pretty quickly with kind of 10-lap offset. I think they had to close a 10- or 12-second lap. The abuse was coming thick and fast.

“I think we could have had the status quo there with Josef. We had over a hundred seconds of OT [push-to-pass] left. I think he was down to the 20s by the time he even got to me.

“Even to get that out, they weren't trimmed out, we were trimmed [for maximum straight line speed], that would have made it difficult to pass. Josef, I think he burnt his tyres up.”

Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, is given the 10 laps to go – chased by Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevy

Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, is given the 10 laps to go – chased by Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevy

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt

As the laps ticked down, even his team boss got involved…

“Chip actually got on the radio,” revealed Dixon. “I couldn't really hear what he said. I heard he was yelling. I guess it meant go. That's what I did!

“I think he must have said just kind of make sure you stay in the lead. I've lost many races where you kind of give up the position because you know you need to make it on fuel, then you get a caution within the next couple laps.”

In the end, Dixon’s life was made easier when Colton Herta rammed into Newgarden at the hairpin with nine laps remaining, as Josef took a wider line to have a final shot at getting past Dixon as lapped cars loomed ahead.

That allowed him to escape to victory, and although Herta closed to within a second at the checkered flag, Dixon knew he had more push-to-pass available should he require it.

“Big day, it was a lot of fun,” he smiled. “Obviously it's nice to get some kind of crazy strategies going on and have two strategies playing out.

“We drove the car back to the pits, did a little burnout. There was sufficient fuel there.”

And he had time for a broadside at Penske’s other contender, Will Power – who’d earlier ran ahead of him until Dixon blasted by him at the start of his second stint: “I don't know where the 12 car finished, but he was on the same strategy as us. I'll see where he ended up…”

He finished sixth Scott, 11s behind you!

Again, as he proved at the Indy road course, St. Louis oval and Laguna Seca last season, while drivers can adopt the same strategy as Dixon, as Carly Simon once sang, nobody does it better.

Watch: Round 3 - Long Beach: 6 Minute Highlights

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