James Hinchcliffe battled through to his first IndyCar victory in almost two years in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday after outplaying Ryan Hunter-Reay and Scott Dixon at the front of the pack.

Hinchcliffe's last IndyCar win came in the shortened race at NOLA Motorsports Park in 2015, with the Canadian's season being cut short just weeks later after a life-threatening crash in practice for the Indianapolis 500.

Hinchcliffe returned in 2016 with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, claiming three podium finishes, but finally made it back to the top step on Sunday in Long Beach with a well-executed victory.

After seeing pole-sitter Helio Castroneves go slow at the start, Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon managed to move into the lead of the race early on and forge a healthy advantage over Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi, with Hinchcliffe running fourth on the road.

With Dixon opting for a three-stop strategy, the chasing trio looked to save more fuel and try to make one less trip to the pits, with Hunter-Reay controlling the pace at the front until the second round of pit stops.

Hinchcliffe was able to go one lap longer, coming in at the end of Lap 58 and made the overcut work perfectly to jump Hunter-Reay, giving him track position ahead of Dixon.

A caution called following a stoppage for Rossi bunched the lead drivers, with Hinchcliffe perfecting the restart to open up a gap to Hunter-Reay. Just as the Andretti Autosport driver began to close on the leader, a loss of power forced Hunter-Reay to park up, sparking another full-course caution.

A three-lap shoot-out for victory followed when the race returned to green, with Hinchcliffe being tailed by St. Petersburg winner Sebastien Bourdais, Penske's Josef Newgarden and Dixon in fourth.

Despite Bourdais' best efforts in the closing laps, Hinchcliffe was able to hold on and record his fifth IndyCar win, acting as an emotional success close to two years since the accident that put his career on hold.

Bourdais retained second place after soaking up the pressure from Newgarden late on, leaving the Penske driver to settle for third place. Scott Dixon wound up fourth, while defending champion Simon Pagenaud charged from last on the grid to fifth, nailing his three-stop strategy.

British rookie Ed Jones put in an impressive display to take sixth for Dale Coyne Racing, finishing ahead of Carlos Munoz and Spencer Pigot. Pole-man Helio Castroneves had a quiet race en route to ninth, while Graham Rahal rounded out the top 10 after picking up a posiiton following a late clash involving Mikhail Aleshin and JR Hildebrand.

 

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