Race Weekend Central

Scott Dixon Does It Again, Wins Long Beach Grand Prix on Fuel Mileage

Scott Dixon held off the field and used another fuel saving strategy call to win a wild finish at the 49th running of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

After the battle for the win seemed to be coming down to Dixon holding off Josef Newgarden, contact with Colton Herta with less than 10 laps to go knocked him out of the fight. This set up the duel between Herta and Dixon for the trophy. Through the final laps, Herta tried to find his way around the Kiwi, but the result was the same as it has been 56 other times, with Dixon on the top spot of the podium.

“That was tough, that was real tough,” Dixon said in victory lane. “Honestly I didn’t think we were going to make it, they kept giving me a [fuel mileage] number, and it wasn’t getting [there], it was close. Luckily we were on the safe side.”

Defending champion Alex Palou finished third to round out the podium, giving him a fourth top-five finish in four tries at Long Beach. Newgarden had to settle for fourth, while Marcus Ericsson came home fifth, his first top-five result with Andretti Global. Pole-sitter Felix Rosenqvist dealt with brake challenges, and soldiered home ninth. 

It was a duel of competing strategies between Dixon’s No. 9 PNC Bank Honda and those, such as Newgarden and Herta on what was thought to be the winning direction. However, Dixon used incredible fuel saving and held off not one, but two different drivers who had the fuel and fresher tires to press their advantage. Dixon never faltered, and arguably turned in one of the best drives of his career to take his 57th win.

As the race entered the closing stretches, it was a bare-knuckle fight between Dixon and Newgarden, putting on a thrilling show. It pitted one of the best young drivers on the circuit versus the veteran who has done nothing but expelled excellence out his exhaust for the last 20 years. 

“Josef was pretty strong,” Dixon said. “I wasn’t sure how he was going to beat me, once he got behind us, I also knew he’d burn the tires off too. And Chip came on and said, ‘just go for it man.’ I’m going to try.”

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The deficit between the leader and Newgarden was down to less than one second as they became entangled in traffic. It looked like only a matter of time.

Unfortunately, when Herta made contact with Newgarden as they rounded the famed hairpin during the chase it forced the No. 2 Team Penske Hitachi Chevrolet into anti-stall mode. For seconds, the black and white IndyCar sat hopeless like Monday morning traffic in the middle lane of Shoreline Blvd. He was able to get the car going, but the win and podium was out of sight.

The sting was made worse for the young American, when the incident was deemed incidental and not penalized.

“Man I don’t know, it seemed pretty obvious,” a frustrated Newgarden said, who led for 19 laps. “He just misjudged it and ran into me.”

Newgarden came home fourth, and frustrated.

Herta took advantage of the slowed Penske car and took second, but much like Graham Rahal at the Gallagher Grand Prix last year at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, didn’t have enough time, tires or magic to get around Dixon. This is the third win in the last four for Dixon that involved an incredible fuel save, as he did it at World Wide Technology Raceway as well. 

The chase to the finish was set up earlier when the only yellow came out when rookie Christian Rasmussen crashed. Will Power, who led from the start pitted on lap 17, Dixon followed him in as well as more than half the field. On the restart he got around Power to be the leader of all those on the alternate strategy. His final stop came on lap 51, and he stretched out the fuel tank to make it 34 laps. 

It’s just more fuel – pun intended – to add to Dixon’s legacy.

The win puts Dixon just 10 behind A.J. Foyt on the all-time IndyCar wins list and he is 12 points behind Newgarden in the championship.

2024 IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach Results

Next up, IndyCar heads to Barber Motorsports Park for the Grand Prix of Alabama. Coverage will begin Sunday, April 28, at 1 p.m. ET on NBC.

About the author

Tom is an IndyCar writer at Frontstretch, joining in March 2023. He also works full-time for the Department of Veterans Affairs History Office and is a lieutenant colonel in the Army National Guard. A native Hoosier, he's followed IndyCar closely since 1991 and calls Fort Wayne home. Follow Tom on Twitter @TomBlackburn42.

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Not sure if Josef would have been able to get around him without help from the lapped traffic. Scott was accelerating so well out of the corner while the 2 looked like the rears were falling off – made it hard for him to get close enough for a charge into the corner. Plus he was using up his push to pass too. It would have been fun to see, but what transpired was amazing as well. I am curious just how much fuel was left in Dixon’s tank?

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