How does he do it? IndyCar’s ultimate ninja pulls off sensational Long Beach heist

A fuel-saving strategy usually doesn't work at Long Beach, unless your name is Scott Dixon

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Nobody knows how he does it but Scott Dixon is a freak of nature when it comes to saving fuel and going fast.

The streets of Long Beach haven’t traditionally been a place where saving fuel works but the 43-year-old Kiwi is a true ninja in IndyCar terms when he is asked to hit the number.

He and his Chip Ganassi team chose to pit early during the race’s only caution and that left them with two massive stints where lift and coast would be a constant action and everyone expected those who remained on the “favoured” strategy to catch and pass him easily.

But nothing is easy when it comes to Dixon, he seems to have that little bit of magic dust and the lightest right foot in the history of mankind and Josef Newgarden nor Colton Herta could find a way past as they went full throttle all the way.

Herta came home right under the Ganassi rear wing ahead of Alex Palou while Newgarden dropped to fourth after slight contact at the hairpin with the Californian and Marcus Ericsson completed the train of five at the front.

Considering how comfortable Newgarden looked out front and the pace offset as the laps ticked down, Dixon has to be hailed from the rooftops for one of the great wins in modern IndyCar history.

“That was tough ,that was real tough,” Dixon told NBC Sports after the race. “Honestly, I don’t think we’re gonna make it, they kept giving me a number and I was close but not enough. 

“Hopefully we can keep doing this this year, but it was huge. It [the diffculty] was way up there, because the stress level was high. You know, those guys were coming fast and strong. 

“Obviously I think we were kind of off by a lap or two of making it easy. I think other fuel races I’ve done I’ve had it under control for the whole stint.”

Strategy saviour

We can all thank our lucky stars that IndyCar has a decent variety of strategy options available because this race could have been a bore fest without it.

It looked nailed on that Will Power would run away with victory when he opened up a big lead in an alarmingly short amount of time at the start but the early caution for Christian Rasmussen’s crash saved the day.

Even though the on-track action was perhaps lacking in excitement at times with most overtakes being exceptionally easy down the start/finish straight you were engrossed in the battle of tactics all the way to the flag and the final battle for victory was superb.

Newgarden did enough when he got clean air just before his final stop to leave just the wily Dixon in front of him when he emerged from the lane but the Kiwi was sensational in defence and pulled off a remarkable win in a way only he could.

Further down the field, a shoutout has to go to Romain Grosjean in eighth for Juncos Hollinger Racing and debutant Theo Pourchaire who raced to 11th while filling in for the injured David Malukas at Arrow McLaren – the less said about their day the better.

IndyCar 2024 Grand Prix of Long Beach Results

Pos.NameTeam
1Scott DixonChip Ganassi Racing
2Colton HertaAndretti Global
3Alex PalouChip Ganassi Racing
4Josef NewgardenTeam Penske
5Marcus EricssonAndretti Global
6Will PowerTeam Penske
7Kyle KirkwoodAndretti Global
8Romain GrosjeanJuncos Hollinger Racing
9Felix RosenqvistMeyer Shank Racing
10Alexander RossiArrow McLare
Joe Ellis
Joe Ellis is a motorsport journalist with experience working in BTCC. He is the resident IndyCar correspondent for Total-Motorsport.com and a top class F1 writer.
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