Looking to get the winless monkey off of his back, Simon Pagenaud surged to a late lead to claim the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
However, in typical Verizon IndyCar Series style, the win came amid controversy.
Pagenaud inherited the lead after his final pit stop and withstood a furious charge from Scott Dixon to take the checkered flag by just .3032-seconds, the closest finish in Long Beach history.
Despite the close finish, the biggest topic of the race was Pagenaud’s pit exit.
Looking to swing low and cut off a hard-charging Dixon for the lead, Pagenaud cut to the bottom of the track as soon as he could out of pit road. However, a review of Pagenaud’s exit showed that his right-front tires crossed over the circuit’s yellow commitment line before he reached the end of pit exit. Per the IndyCar rulebook, Pagenaud’s mistake was a punishable offense.
IndyCar Series officials reviewed the incident, and after five laps elected to issue Pagenaud a warning.
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) April 17, 2016
Following the controversial exit, Pagenaud held off three challenges from Dixon, including one on the final corner amid lapped traffic, to score his first victory with Team Penske.
Dixon was forced to settle for second after a race he thought he’d done everything right to win.
After leading a race-high 47 laps from the pole, Helio Castroneves ended his race with a third-place result, undone by superior pit strategy by Pagenaud and Dixon.
Juan Pablo Montoya survived a charge from Takuma Sato’s Honda-powered AJ Foyt Dallara to give Dallara-Chevrolet the top four finishing positions. Sato rounded out the top five, leading the way for the struggling Hondas.
IndyCar’s annual race at Long Beach went caution-free for the first time since 1989, leading to the fastest grand prix the series has ever put on at the circuit.
The Verizon IndyCar Series will return to action next Sunday, April 24 for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.
- Simon Pagenaud
- Scott Dixon
- Helio Castroneves
- Juan Pablo Montoya
- Takuma Sato
- Tony Kanaan
- Will Power
- James Hinchcliffe
- Sebastien Bourdais
- Josef Newgarden
- Charlie Kimball
- Carlos Muñoz
- Conor Daly
- Max Chilton
- Graham Rahal
- Mikhail Aleshin
- Luca Filippi
- Ryan Hunter-Reay
- Marco Andretti
- Alexander Rossi
- Jack Hawksworth
About the author
A graduate of Ball State, Aaron rejoins Frontstretch for his second season in 2016 following a successful year that included covering seven races and starting the popular "Two-Headed Monster" column in 2015. Now in his third year of covering motorsports, Aaron serves as an Assistant Editor for Frontstretch while also contributing to other popular sites including Speed51 and The Apex. He encourages you to come say hi when you see him at the track.