Scott Dixon claims controversial podium after Long Beach nail-biter
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Kiwi Scott Dixon has finished third at this morning's Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach; round four of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series. The win, meanwhile, went to Alexander Rossi (the former Indy 500 winner tributing the win to his late grandfather, who died yesterday), while series leader Josef Newgarden took second.
Starting from second, the Ganassi Racing ace held station until his used tyres started to fade quicker than the fresh tyres everyone else had started the race with. A lengthy 18-second stop further compounded his problems — taking away any chance of a win, or even a second place.
Dixon's race ended up boiling down to a fierce duel in the final laps with fellow Honda driver Graham Rahal. The pairing went toe-to-toe, with Rahal himself struggling on older tyres and left without any remaining push-to-pass functionality.
Dixon's best chance at stealing away third place came exiting turn eight, when he looked to have a minor overlap with the third-generation racer. But, Rahal shut the door. Minor contact between Rahal's right-rear tyre and Dixon's front wing ensued, with Dixon pulling back and eventually being unable to pass over the rest of the lap.
Officialdom ended up frowning on Rahal's defensive moves; penalising him post-race and giving Dixon a controversial third place.
"It was unfortunate, I think he [Rahal] overshot turn eight and then quickly tried to turn in reaction," said Dixon.
"As the rule is, you can't come back to defend if you know that somebody's already there, and that's what happened. I was OT, hit his rear tyre, had to lift off, and lost momentum."
Rahal defended the move, reiterating that the category's rules condone blocking for position and that he had allowed Dixon enough room on the inside to continue a pass if required.
Quizzed about whether he had anything pace-wise for race winner Rossi, Dixon was hesitant.
"It's always hard to tell, coulda, shoulda, woulda. I think we definitely had the pace, those guys were all around us on new reds at the start. We held our pace pretty good until the last five or ten laps of that stint and at the end we closed the gap on the No. 2 car [Newgarden].
"But I didn't see Rossi, can't take anything away from him."
Behind Rahal in fourth, Ryan Hunter-Reay completed the top five. Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, Takuma Sato, James Hinchcliffe, and Felix Rosenqvist rounded out the top 10.