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Kiwi Dixon fourth Grand Prix of Long Beach

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 9/04/2017

Exasperated Kiwi driver Scott Dixon will demand answers from his team bosses after finishing fourth in a roller-coaster second round of the IndyCar series in California.

Canadian James Hinchcliffe emerged victorious at the Grand Prix of Long Beach following a tactical battle in which pit strategy and yellow flags had a major say.

Dixon, who was second on the grid, took the early lead from pole-sitter Helio Castroneves but ceded his advantage by following team orders by making an early pit stop to change tyres.

It meant he had to pit three times in the 85-lap street race while his rivals needed just two stops.

The tactics differed from the Chip Ganassi Racing team's pre-race plan and confused Dixon.

"I'm not really sure what changed up there, I haven't spoken to the team," Dixon said.

"Maybe they saw something, that a caution was going to come out and we'd get lucky with something like that.

"You flirt with fire when you try things like that. We gave the race away at that point. The car was super-fast, we should have just tried to stay out front."

Dixon said on a circuit where passing was difficult, it wasn't ideal to hand the lead over to his rivals.

"It's hard to swallow that one. We were pulling away and saving fuel would have been an easy two-stop strategy for us."

Dixon's hopes were snuffed out when two late incidents both resulted in yellow flags and halted proceedings.

It left the veteran Honda driver to settled for a finish behind Hinchcliffe, Sebastien Bourdais and Josef Newgarden in a procession over the last six laps.

Dixon drops from third to fourth overall after two-legs of the 17-round championship.

Bourdais, who won the opening round in Florida, continues to lead from Hinchcliffe and Pagenaud, the 2016 series champion.

Round three is the Grand Prix of Alabama in two weeks.

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