IndyCar Series: Simon Pagenaud wins caution-free race at Long Beach
Simon Pagenaud (Team Penske) wins the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the third round of the 2016 IndyCar Series. It was Pagenaud’s first victory as a Team Penske driver since he joined the team last year and his fifth Indy career win. He won ahead of Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing) by the narrowest margin in a history of Long Beach street circuit, by just 0.303 seconds.
The race was also unusual because of the fact that it was just the fourth Long Beach race in 33 appearances which was ran without cautions. The race was the first caution-free event at Long Beach since 1989 and first caution-free IndyCar Series race of any kind since Mid-Ohio in 2013. In such a conditions the pit stop strategy earned Simon Pagenaud the late lead and he defended the first place from Dixon. Helio Castroneves (Team Penske), who started from pole and lead for 47 of 80 laps, took the third podium spot.
Castroneves led until pitting on Lap 52. Pagenaud stayed out two more laps before making his final stop for fuel and tires. He returned to the track just ahead of Dixon and Castroneves. Dixon tried to attack but there were no more changes in the order. Juan Pablo Montoya (Team Penske) and Takuma Sato (AJ Foyt Racing) completed the top 5.
The race stewards warned Pagenaud for improper lane usage exiting the pit. Dixon was disappointed Pagenaud didn’t receive a more severe penalty, but accepted the runner-up finish. Pagenaud leads the championship after three of 16 races with 134 points, ahead of Dixon (120), Montoya (106), Castroneves (92) and Tony Kanaan (82).
The championship resumes next weekend at Barber Motorsports Park with the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.