LOS ANGELES: Reigning IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon swept to victory at the Phoenix Grand Prix on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) to open his account for 2016.
The New Zealander, who had finished seventh in the season-opener won by rival Juan Pablo Montoya in Florida last month, led the final 155 laps at the Phoenix International Raceway to take maximum points.
The victory moved Dixon up to fourth on the all-time list of race winners with 39, alongside Al Unser. Michael Andretti is next with 42 and AJ Foyt leads with 67.
Dixon, however, did set a new IndyCar record by winning a race for a 12th consecutive season. He had previously shared the mark of 11 with Bobby Unser, Emerson Fittipaldi and Helio Castroneves.
“It was tough, definitely one of the toughest races on these short ovals,” Chip Ganassi Racing driver Dixon said. “The car was super-fast. I think we had the best car out there on strategies and pit stops.”
Dixon took control of Saturday’s race when two Team Penske drivers suffered tire problems and were forced into the pits.
Helio Castroneves, who had started on pole for the 46th time in his career, lasted only 39 laps, with his car suffering a cut tire on lap 40 that forced both Montoya and Tony Kanaan to take evasive action to avoid hitting the Brazilian.
Dixon’s win capped a dominant performance for Chevrolet cars, which swept the first four finishers.
Frenchman Simon Pagenaud was second behind Dixon, with Australia’s Will Power third and Kanaan fourth.
Pagenaud leads the standings after two races with 83 points, ahead of Dixon (79) and Montoya 74.