Marcus Ericsson takes fifth Indianapolis 500 win for Chip Ganassi Racing

INDIANAPOLIS — Marcus Ericsson, once a back-up in Formula 1, is now a front-runner in IndyCar.

And the winner of the Indianapolis 500.

Ericsson became the second Swede to win the Indy 500 on Sunday when he blocked some of the biggest names in North American racing in front of the biggest crowd of his life.

“It’s the biggest race in the world,” Ericsson said, calling it the biggest win of “a million miles.”

The 31-year-old’s appearance at IndyCar in 2019 is a mystery after five underwhelming Formula 1 seasons. He spent his life trying to reach the highest level of motorsport and then flopped in more than 97 races – not even a single podium.

His first season in North America didn’t dazzle either. Just a year later, Ericsson disbanded from his first IndyCar team and bought a seat at Chip Ganassi Racing – when he said “win the Indy 500, it’s not bad for a paying driver” Be sure to keep an eye out for that – and have made steady progress in 36 games against Ghanassi since 2020.

“It’s tough. I’ve been in Formula 1 for five years, almost a hundred grands prix, running for the small teams, most of the time in the back. You don’t get a lot of credit in the back. People think you’re not very Good,” Ericsson said. “I came here and people probably didn’t think much of it. I also had to work here and learn American racing.

“Moving here, I’ve spent my life trying to be a champion in IndyCar and the Indianapolis 500. It’s not easy. It feels good to prove that hard work pays off.”

Ericsson took control of the race late in the race – mostly due to a speeding penalty from teammate Scott Dixon – and prevailed until Ganassi teammate Jimmy Johnson crashed with four laps left at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Rare red flag parking.

IndyCar is one of the purest forms of motorsport, with few human warnings or suspensions that could change the outcome. But a crowd of more than 300,000 people (just a few thousand people shy of selling out, the biggest sporting event since the pandemic began) roared when IndyCar called for a pit stop.

The suspension gave Pato Oward and the other challengers nearly 12 minutes in the pit lane to strategize how to get past Ericsson. Ericsson is thinking hard about its plans.

“Those 10 minutes sitting in the pits during the red flag were the hardest 10 minutes of my life,” he said, “thinking about what to do, thinking that I’m leading the biggest race in the world and I’m so far from winning it. close.”

When the race restarted, with two laps left, Ericsson took the lead on O’Ward. The Mexicans looked for the lead defended by Ericsson one last time, and Oward knew not to force the issue.

“No, if I went, he’d put me on the wall,” Oward said.

Sage Karam crashed on the final lap and issued another warning, sending Ericsson down to the winning podium in yellow. Karam was taken to hospital for evaluation for muscle soreness.

“When the warning came, I thought it was going to be another reboot. I was like, ‘I can’t believe it, another one,'” Ericsson said. “First I was mad and then I realised it made me win the game. From then on, the emotions exploded.”

It was Ericsson’s third IndyCar championship in 52 races. But after arriving in Indianapolis, he was convinced he could win the 500, in part because of the work he had done learning about the oval and warming up for “the greatest racing spectacle” at the Texas Motor Speedway. the third place.

It was the fifth Indy 500 victory for team owner Chip Ganassi, who took the podium on the side of Ericsson Motors. Ericsson is the first Swede to win the Indy 500 since Kenny Brack in 1999 and second in 106 races.

Ericsson poured a can of milk on his face, then handed the bottle to Ganassi for the boss to drink himself. Ganassi, who has not won the 500 in 10 years, sent five legitimate contenders to Indy to end the drought.

The victory seemed to belong to Dixon, a six-time IndyCar champion who took pole position at more than 234 mph in qualifying. The New Zealander led 95 of the 200 laps and his Honda was unquestionably the fastest in the field – so fast that Dixon didn’t slow down on his final pit stop.

The penalty put Dixon out of contention for victory.

That leaves Ericsson and Tony Canan still in the Ghanaian mix. Kanaan, 47, is the oldest driver in the field and thinks he’s sitting perfectly in fourth for the restart.

Still, Oward won’t let up. He signed a contract extension with Arrow McLaren SP on Friday and is eager to celebrate his status as a McLaren star with the win. But Oward, who finished second, was unsuccessful in his attempt to give Mexico a banner celebration on the biggest day in motorsport. Sergio Perez won the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday.

Kanan was third, followed by another Swede representing McLaren, Felix Rosenqvist. Rosenqvist signed McLaren for a contract year and fought for his job, but when Juan Pablo Montoya finished 11th, the McLaren team held the Chevrolet flag at Indy.

American drivers Alexander Rossi and Conor Daly finished fifth and sixth respectively, with Rossi for Andretti Autosport and Daly for Ed Carpenter Racing.

Last year’s winner Helio Castroneves was seventh, one place ahead of Meyer Shank Racing teammate Simon Pagenaud. Defending IndyCar champion Alex Palo finished 10th in another Ganassi event.

Dixon relegated to 21st after a speeding penalty, and while he visited Ericsson on the victory podium, he was comforted by his wife on the way to the pit lane after the race. Johnson finished 28th in his Indy 500 debut.

“It’s a team where everyone is rooted for everyone else, everyone works together, and everyone is an open book,” Ganassi said. “You do things happen in these 500-mile races, and they don’t always fail your way. So, you know, we’re lucky to have five good cars and five good drivers.”

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