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Race report
IndyCar Long Beach

IndyCar Long Beach: Dixon wins strategic battle, Herta hits Newgarden

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon was able to pull off yet more strategic mastery and fend off late surges to win IndyCar's Grand Prix of Long Beach.

After starting eighth, the 43-year-old New Zealander took advantage of the race's only caution to temporarily halt the 85-lap contest and switched to an alternate strategy. The outcome cycled him to the lead but forced him into fuel conservation.

Dixon was able to fend off the Colton Herta, who was running an opposite strategy that allowed him to push for maximum pace, and win at the 11-turn, 1.968-mile street circuit by 0.9798s.

After a Race Control issue led to the race starting under caution, pole-sitter Felix Rosenqvist led the field to the green flag on lap 2.

Team Penske’s Will Power, who started second on a set of softer alternate tires, tucked in behind Rosenqvist – who was running harder primary rubber – at the start before swinging out and making an outside pass for the lead entering Turn 1.

It only took another two laps before Newgarden, Power’s team-mate, moved up to second to give Team Penske an early 1-2 standing in the running order.

Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet

Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Josh Tons / Motorsport Images

The fourth lap featured contact between a pair of Arrow McLaren team-mates as Alexander Rossi, running 13th, got rear-ended up Pato O’Ward in Turn 1. The contact left Rossi with left-rear damage that led to coming down pit road, swapping his soft rubber for a set of primary tires.

Meanwhile, O’Ward was penalized for avoidable contact by Race Control and forced to serve a drive-thru penalty. Both drivers dropped to the back of the field, in 26th and 27th, respectively.

While the drama at Arrow McLaren was going on, Andretti Global newcomer Marcus Ericsson was able to progress up to third after getting around Rosenqvist in Turn 1. Moments later, Rosenqvist was further relegated and slid down to sixth after Colton Herta and reigning series champion Alex Palou moved up.

The running order became stagnant as Power widened his gap to Newgarden, running on primaries.

However, a lead that expanded to 6.5s evaporated after caution came out on lap 16 when rookie Christian Rasmussen crashed out.

The young Dane spun his No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet out of Turn 4, which came after left-rear contact at the exit of Turn 11 previously that led to suspected suspension damage, making contact with the wall and then Dale Coyne Racing’s Jack Harvey. While Rasmussen’s day ended early, Harvey was able to continue on.

Christian Rasmussen, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

Christian Rasmussen, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

“Yeah, it was tricky,” said Rasmussen, the 2023 Indy NXT champion.

“I feel like we’ve had a good weekend so far. We’ve got up to speed quick in our practices. Not the qualifying we wanted, but the race was unfortunate.

“Tapped the wall out of (turn) 11. Thought the car was fine. My steering wheel was a little bit off, but I thought it was a bent toe link, but then when I went into (turn) four, I think it just completely snapped and it went around. Not how I wanted to end the day. I’m sorry to the boys, and it’s going to be a quick turnaround to Barber, but we’ll come back stronger.” 

With the caution, Power pitted from the lead and swapped to the primary tires, handing off the lead to Newgarden.

Six-time IndyCar Series champion Dixon, who started eighth on primary tires, was among the group to also pit with Power. Dixon’s No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda swapped to alternates and quickly got around Power after the race restarted on lap 20.

Newgarden was able to make a quick getaway from Ericsson, with Herta and Palou also on the same strategy.

The likes of Dixon and Power began to move into the backend of the top 10 and pass those not to pit – like AJ Foyt Racing’s Sting Ray Robb and Dale Coyne Racing rookie Nolan Siegel – as Newgarden and the other frontrunners pushed their strategy and began diving to pit lane 10 laps later to put on alternates.

Rosenqvist started that pit cycle on lap 30, with Newgarden diving from the lead on lap 31, Palou on 32 and Herta on 33. The rotation propelled Dixon up to the lead, with Power behind and defending race winner Kyle Kirkwood in third.

Newgarden stayed in the lead on his respective strategy, followed by Herta, with Palou able to get around Ericsson for a net third. The overall standings saw them running eighth to 11th.

Dixon extended his lead over Power to 8s by lap 51, with both pushing to pit on the next lap. Dixon opted to go another run on alternates, while Power swapped back to the harder primaries.

Kirkwood inherited the lead, only 6.4s over Newgarden, who cycled up as others on the Dixon-led strategy also pitted. Kirkwood ducked into pit lane on lap 53 and switched to the harder compound after running two stints on the alternates.

Newgarden was elevated to the top spot, by 3.5s over Herta, Palou and Ericsson.

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Josh Tons / Motorsport Images

The fifth spot became occupied by Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Romain Grosjean, ahead of Rosenqvist in sixth. Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay was seventh, with Rossi in eighth and rookie Theo Pourchaire, making his IndyCar debut in the No. 6 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, in ninth.

Once everything cycled out, Dixon returned to the action 10th and Power in 11th. Kirkwood came out 12th.

Those on the Newgarden-led strategy began to pit on lap 57, beginning with Grosjean. Newgarden pitted on lap 59 and opted to move to a set of used alternate tires and returned back out to just ahead of Power in the running order.

Herta, who took over the lead after Newgarden pitted, stopped on lap 62 and was followed by Palou.

Dixon reassumed the lead, with Newgarden in second and in clear pursuit but 5.3s behind. Herta was able to return back out in third, ahead of Power, Palou and Kirkwood in sixth. Ericsson, Scott McLaughlin, Rosenqvist and Grosjean made up the rest of the top 10.

By lap 66, Newgarden managed to close the gap to 2.8s on leader Dixon, who was in fuel-save mode and not utilizing his push-to-pass.

The gap between the top two go to within 1s with 17 laps to go, with Dixon continuing to carefully manage the throttle to tip-toe around.

McLaughlin’s No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet slowed off the pace with an apparent issue with 14 laps to go, dropping out of the top 10 and to 17th before pitting with gearbox problems.

Although Newgarden closed on the rear wing of Dixon, Herta and Palou also began moving tighter on the frontrunners with 13 to go.

Herta ate up two seconds of gap Newgarden held to be within 2s, while Dixon remained only 0.4s out front with 12 to go.

Dixon and Newgarden began to close on traffic with 10 laps to go, with back markers including Chip Ganassi Racing rookie Kyffin Simpson, Siegel, Robb and AJ Foyt Racing’s Santino Ferrucci.

Herta collides with Newgarden

The impact of traffic brought Herta and Palou even tighter to leaders Dixon and Newgarden, making it a four-car battle for the win with nine laps to go.

Newgarden slowed out of the Turn 11 hairpin corner after Herta made contact with his rear, dropping Josef to fourth behind Herta and Palou, and allowing Dixon to widen his lead out to 1.5s.

Amid the drama, Dixon was also able to move around Ferrucci to put a lapped car between he and Herta.

While Newgarden yelled for a penalty over the earlier contact, Herta came over the radio and stated Newgarden “just stopped in the middle of the corner.”

Dixon was able to move around all back markers with five laps to go, the last of which was team-mate Simpson, who remained in front of Herta for the remainder of the lap.

The gap was established at 0.8s with four laps to go, with no traffic in sight to impede the battle further.

The penultimate lap saw Herta close to within 0.3s on Dixon, with Palou out of the battle at 1.5s behind in third. Dixon was able to fend off Herta on the final lap and sped off to collect his first win of the season.

Herta took the runner-up spot, with Palou standing on the final step of the podium in third.

Newgarden finished fourth, ahead of Ericsson. Power, Kirkwood, Grosjean, Rosenqvist and Rossi rounded out the rest of the top 10.

Reigning Formula 2 champion Pourchaire was able to take 11th in the first IndyCar race of his career.

CLA DRIVER # LAPS TIME INTERVAL MPH PITS POINTS
1 S. DixonCHIP GANASSI RACING 9 85

1:42'03.1416

  103.390 2  
2 C. HertaANDRETTI GLOBAL WITH CURB-AGAJANIAN 26 85

+0.9798

1:42'04.1214

0.9798 102.784 2  
3 A. PalouCHIP GANASSI RACING 10 85

+1.7664

1:42'04.9080

0.7866 103.151 2  
4 J. NewgardenTEAM PENSKE 2 85

+3.9735

1:42'07.1151

2.2071 102.163 2  
5 M. EricssonANDRETTI GLOBAL 28 85

+4.3769

1:42'07.5185

0.4034 102.312 2  
6 W. PowerTEAM PENSKE 12 85

+15.7639

1:42'18.9055

11.3870 101.604 2  
7 K. KirkwoodANDRETTI GLOBAL 27 85

+16.1788

1:42'19.3204

0.4149 101.933 2  
8 R. GrosjeanJUNCOS HOLLINGER RACING 77 85

+18.0433

1:42'21.1849

1.8645 101.833 2  
9 F. RosenqvistMEYER SHANK RACING 60 85

+18.8155

1:42'21.9571

0.7722 101.991 2  
10 A. RossiARROW MCLAREN 7 85

+32.0915

1:42'35.2331

13.2760 101.159 3  
11 T. PourchaireARROW MCLAREN 6 85

+33.4409

1:42'36.5825

1.3494 102.617 2  
12 M. ArmstrongCHIP GANASSI RACING 11 85

+40.8207

1:42'43.9623

7.3798 102.415 2  
13 L. LundqvistCHIP GANASSI RACING 8 85

+42.0003

1:42'45.1419

1.1796 101.852 2  
14 R. van KalmthoutED CARPENTER RACING 21 85

+44.4325

1:42'47.5741

2.4322 100.829 2  
15 A. CanapinoJUNCOS HOLLINGER RACING 78 85

+51.3156

1:42'54.4572

6.8831 103.110 3  
16 P. O'WardARROW MCLAREN 5 85

+52.9961

1:42'56.1377

1.6805 102.719 4  
17 G. RahalRAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING 15 85

+1'02.5190

1:43'05.6606

9.5229 98.645 2  
18 41 85

+1'05.5898

1:43'08.7314

3.0708 102.202 2  
19 K. SimpsonCHIP GANASSI RACING 4 84

+1 Lap

1:42'06.5316

1 Lap 102.363 2  
20
N. SiegelDALE COYNE RACING
51 84

+1 Lap

1:42'09.8320

3.3004 102.686 2  
21 S. FerrucciA.J. FOYT ENTERPRISES 14 84

+1 Lap

1:42'12.4251

2.5931 101.140 3  
22 T. BlomqvistMEYER SHANK RACING 66 84

+1 Lap

1:42'28.7772

16.3521 86.934 3  
23 C. LundgaardRAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING 45 84

+1 Lap

1:42'34.2538

5.4766 72.261 3  
24 P. FittipaldiRAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING 30 84

+1 Lap

1:42'52.7942

18.5404 102.948 3  
25 J. HarveyDALE COYNE RACING 18 83

+2 Laps

1:42'31.6976

1 Lap 100.830 4  
26 S. McLaughlinTEAM PENSKE 3 71

+14 Laps

1:26'53.2828

12 Laps 71.172 3  
27
C. RasmussenED CARPENTER RACING
20 14

+71 Laps

17'23.1996

57 Laps 101.812

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