Scott Dixon: The Drive for 67 Race Victories

With his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES victory of the 2024 season in the 49th running of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach in Long Beach, California, on Sunday, April 21, Scott Dixon is within reasonable distance of achieving another major accomplishment to his racing resume.

Currently sitting at 57 career victories in IndyCar competition, Dixon, who is in second place in the all-time IndyCar wins list, is 10 victories away from tying AJ Foyt for the most series wins at 67.

The six-time champion from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, left little to doubt with his impeccable run during Sunday’s Grand Prix at Long Beach, where he rallied from starting in eighth place by leading twice for a race-high 42 of 85 laps and executing his pit strategies to perfection by having enough fuel to lead the final 34 laps and fend off late challenges from Josef Newgarden and Colton Herta to win the Grand Prix at Long Beach for the second time in his career.

Dixon’s victory also extended the current streak of most consecutive IndyCar seasons with a victory at 20, with the champion left relieved in Victory Lane as he celebrated his first IndyCar victory of the 2024 season and his first since winning the 2023 season-finale event at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca last September.

“That was tough, that was real tough,” Dixon, who was the championship runner-up in 2023, said on USA Network. “Honestly, I didn’t think we were gonna make it. [The team] kept giving me a number and it just wasn’t…I was close, but not enough. Luckily, we were on the safe side there. Huge credit to everybody on the PNC Bank No. 9 [Honda]. Today was really fun driving my Honda. Hopefully, we can keep doing this this year, but it was huge.”

Even as Dixon managed to steer his No. 9 PNC Bank Dallara-Honda smoothly around the 11-turn circuit around the Streets of Long Beach through the final 34 laps on a low tank of fuel with the lead, he was intimated by the reigning Indianapolis 500 Josef Newgarden during the stretch, who went from a three-second deficit with 20 laps remaining to narrow it down by getting as close to Dixon’s rear wing during the proceeding laps.

Dixon then caught a break with nine laps remaining after Newgarden, who nearly got to Dixon’s rear bumper in Turn 11, was hit from behind by a hard-charging Colton Herta. The contact stalled Newgarden’s momentum and allowed both Herta and the reigning IndyCar champion/Dixon’s teammate Alex Palou to overtake Newgarden for second and third, respectively. With his advantage back up to a second, Dixon then had to fend off Herta for the final nine laps through his low tank of fuel, which he was able to as he beat Herta’s Honda entry by nine-tenths of a second across the finish line to claim the checkered flag first.

“Josef [Newgarden] was coming strong and I was kind of unsure how he was gonna be once he got behind us,” Dixon added. “I also knew that he’d be burning the tires off, too. [Team owner] Chip [Ganassi] came on [the radio]. He’s like, ‘Just go for it, man.’ And I was like, ‘I’m gonna try.'”

Dixon’s victory was one that received high praise from team owner Chip Ganassi, whose team Chip Ganassi Racing and Honda notched their first IndyCar points-paying victory of the 2024 season. They previously won the non-points $1 Million Challenge at California’s The Thermal Club in late March with Alex Palou.

“I don’t know if it was the most improbable [win for Dixon], but [it was] certainly a hard-fought win,” Ganassi added. “We were managing [the fuel] to the finish. We kept telling [Dixon] the fuel number he had to get, but to stay in front of those guys. He was not getting the fuel number we had to get, so we had to keep making that up. That’s tough to do. It was relief at the end. It was relief more than anything. It was relief more than joy.”

During his victory celebrations, Dixon dedicated the victory to Sir Colin Giltrap, a New Zealand philanthropist and businessman who was involved in the motor vehicle industry and served as a big influence on Dixon.

Herta and Palou made it a Honda podium sweep by finishing second and third behind Dixon while Newgarden, who led 19 laps in his Penske Chevrolet and is coming off a season-opening victory at the Streets of St. Petersburg, ended up in fourth place in his 200th IndyCar career start. Marcus Ericsson, the 2022 Indianapolis 500 champion, came home in fifth place in an event where 18 of 27 starters finished on the lead lap.

With the victory, Dixon trails Newgarden in the current driver’s standings by 12 points with 15 points-paying events remaining on the schedule.

In addition to trailing AJ Foyt for the most IndyCar victories at 67, Dixon also strives to tie Foyt for the most INDYCAR championships at seven in 2024, with Dixon’s sixth and latest title occurring in 2020. He also strives to win his second Indianapolis 500 event since winning his first in 2008, though he has also tallied a total of five Indy 500 poles.

Dixon’s continued quest for 67 victories continues next Sunday, April 28, at Barber Motorsports Park for the Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix in Birmingham, Alabama. The event’s broadcast time is set to air at 1 p.m. ET on NBC.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

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