LONG BEACH, California: New Zealand’s Scott Dixon won the IndyCar Series Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Monday, beating runner-up Helio Castroneves of Brazil for his 36th career Indy car victory.
Castroneves nearly overtook Dixon for position after making his last pit stop, but Dixon fended off the challenge and then drove away from Castroneves, beating him to the finish line by 2.2 seconds.
Dixon’s 36th win moves him ahead of Bobby Unser for fifth on the series’ all-time race winners list. It was also his first win in Long Beach and the 98th Indy car victory for team owner Chip Ganassi Racing.
Prior to Sunday, Dixon’s best finish in eight starts at Long Beach was fourth five years ago. He had placed 11th, 12th, 18th and 23rd in the previous four starts in southern California.
“This is huge. I love the event, but as far as coming here and doing well it hadn’t been on that list,” Dixon said.
Juan Pablo Montoya, who won earlier this season in St. Petersburg, placed third, followed by France’s Simon Pagenaud, who is in his first season with Penske. Dixon’s Ganassi teammate, Tony Kanaan, finished fifth.
“The guys did a great job in the pits. It was just perfect. At the end of the day, second place is not bad,” said Castroneves.
Dixon, driving the No. 9 car, started third in the 80-lap race, but he passed Montoya, on the opening lap.
Sebastien Bourdais, Josef Newgarden, Marco Andretti, Carlos Munoz and Sebastian Saavedra placed sixth through 10th, respectively. It was the first IndyCar start this season for Saavedra.
Montoya remained atop the championship standings, but Castroneves trimmed his teammate’s lead to just three points. Kanaan climbed to third in the rankings, 26 points behind.