LEXINGTON, Ohio — Scott Dixon and his Chip Ganassi team had planned on four pit stops.
Then Dixon changed his mind — and his luck.
Dixon, the defending IndyCar series champion, went from last in qualifying in the 22-car field to capture his fifth win at Mid-Ohio in eight years, coasting in on low fuel Sunday to finally end his victory drought in 2014.
"It was probably around Lap 30, we had to really go for it and switch it up," he said of an altered game plan to go hard, then conserve fuel while running in the lead.
The 34-year-old New Zealander also won on the twisty road course between Cleveland and Columbus in 2007, '09, '11 and '12.
"To come from last to even a top-10 here was going to be extremely difficult to do," he said. "But we laid down some quick laps, passed some people and then hung on."
Chip Ganassi Racing has won the past six races at the track and finally ended its winless drought for the season.
Pole-sitter Sebastien Bourdais was second, with James Hinchcliffe third, rookie Carlos Munoz fourth and favorite son Graham Rahal fifth.
"(Starting) 17th to (finishing) third sounds impressive until you talk about Scott," Hinchcliffe said. "He's got to go and showboat, like he always does here."
Dixon led 45 of 90 laps, winning the strategy battle against the top contenders while capturing his 34th series win and first since Houston in October. He beat St. Petersburg resident Bourdais by 5.3864 seconds.
Almost immediately after getting the checkered flag, just after going past pit road, he pulled quickly over into the grass near the first turn and pumped his fist to fans.
He was not out of gas, he said. But he could have been.
"The (low) fuel light came up with about a lap and a half to go," he said. "If you were listening to the radio, you would have heard a lot of random chatter. We conserved for most of the last lap."
Will Power, second in points coming in, took the No. 1 spot when leader Helio Castroneves had throttle problems on a pace lap. Power finished sixth and Castroneves 19th; Power leads his Team Penske teammate 548-544 with three races left.
NHRA: John Force earned his third Funny Car win this year and record 141st overall at the Northwest Nationals in Seattle. Force, 65, beat former teammate Gary Densham in the final. Doug Kalitta won in Top Fuel, and Jason Line took Pro Stock.