Scott Dixon wins Toyota Grand Prix – Indianapolis Star
LONG BEACH, Calif. — Beers all around Sunday for Ganassi Racing.
First for Scott Dixon, who added a Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach victory to his long list of career IndyCar accomplishments.
Another to Tony Kanaan for essentially blocking Dixon’s closest competitor, Helio Castroneves, in the pits.
Kanaan doesn’t drink beer, but that’s no concern for Dixon.
“I’ll drink it for him,” he said.
Kanaan’s interference was inadvertent, his pit box in front of his fellow Brazilian. Castroneves couldn’t leave from his service until Kanaan crossed his path, and that excruciating split-second delay allowed Dixon to blow past on the track, having pitted the previous lap.
Castroneves said he nearly hit Kanaan.
“It was close,” he said. “Really close.”
That sequence was only on Lap 29, but it changed the complexity of a predictable 80-lap race. Once in the lead, Dixon had the strength to hold off Castroneves.
“Definitely a game-changer for us,” Dixon said of Kanaan’s move. “Obviously, he didn’t do it on purpose. There’s nothing (the sitting car) can do. If you go, you’re going to crash into him.”
Castroneves and Team Penske tried to spice up the lead battle with a quick second and final stop, but Dixon actually extended the lead by another second. Indy cars don’t have cruise control, but Dixon was on it.
The No. 9 car even went into fuel conservation mode in the waning laps and still won by 2.2 seconds. Castroneves settled for second for the 37th time in his career, tying Bobby Rahal for second place in that category. Mario Andretti did it 56 times.
The rest of the field was more than 11 seconds behind Castroneves, but at least it was interesting back there. Juan Pablo Montoya took a couple of passing shots from fellow Penske driver Simon Pagenaud, but the Colombian held the Frenchman back.
Kanaan finished a close fifth, with Sebastien Bourdais sixth and Josef Newgarden seventh as Chevrolet rolled in the aftermath of IndyCar-mandated changes to its front wings.
Dixon earned the 36th victory of his career to break a tie with Bobby Unser for fifth place in the sport’s history. Next on the list is Al Unser with 39, then Michael Andretti No. 3 with 42.
As important now is the fact Dixon has one Long Beach win, two counting his Indy Lights win in 2000.
“It doesn’t count,” he laughed in reference to the latter. “Nobody ever got excited about it.”
Dixon had an average finish of 15th in eight previous IndyCar trips to this tight street circuit, with only a single top-10 finish (fourth in 2010). He had led only 25 laps; he tacked on another 44 in this one.
“I finally got it right,” he said.
So did the IndyCar Series. After a smash-up in last month’s season-opening race in St. Petersburg, Fla., and the embarrassing show last week in wet New Orleans, this race was clean, dry, fast and pure. There was only one caution, an early slowdown when rookie Gabby Chaves broke his left front wing on Jack Hawksworth’s right rear.
Will Power was the big loser during that caution. Trying to recover from a mistake in qualifying that forced him to start 18th, he picked the wrong lane coming to pit road on Lap 7. When Luca Filippi stalled, Power stalled behind him.
Power fell a lap down and never got it back, finishing 20th among 23 cars as the race stayed green the rest of the way.
Indianapolis native Conor Daly had a steady and productive day as the two-day replacement in Dale Coyne Racing’s No. 18 car. Competing in his first IndyCar street race, Daly stayed on the lead lap throughout, even lapping teammate Francesco Dracone.
Follow Star reporter Curt Cavin on Twitter: @curtcavin.