Sweden’s Ericsson Fights Way to Indy 500 victory

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 29 2022

Marcus Ericsson held on to win at Indy on Sunday.

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

Swedish race car drivers have the reputation of being cool – almost cold – under pressure. Marcus Ericsson did nothing to destroy that rep Sunday afternoon in the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500.
Ericsson took the effective lead with 18 laps to go, survived a restart with two laps to go and held the lead the rest of the way en route to his first 500 victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway..
The Swedish Chip Ganassi Racing driver beat Mexico’s Pato O’Ward of Arrow McLaren to the finish line by 1.7 seconds.
The victory at the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway was his third in the IndyCar Series. It ended a 10-year Indy drought by the Ganassi team.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he said several times in Victory Circle.
Finishing third was Tony Kanaan in his Ganassi Honda.

A second Swede, Felix Rosenqvist of the McLaren team was fourth.
Fifth was Alexander Rossi of Andretti Autosport.
“It was a really strong day for the whole No. 27 team,” Rossi said. “To start 20th and end in the top five is a great accomplishment. I think due to some amazing work in pitlane and the great strategy we were able to capitalize when we needed to and the car was good. Everything went our way. Unfortunately, we ran out of time at the end. I don’t know if we had the overall pace to win but it was nice to be in there with a shot.”
Ericsson had a seemingly comfortable lead as the laps wound down but with six laps to go Indy rookie Jimmie Johnson crashed hard in Turn 2. Officials opted to wave the red flag in order to complete the race under green. Ericsson’s head dipped inside his Honda-powered car.
“You can never take anything for granted and obviously there was still laps to go,” he said of life just before Johnson spun. “And I was praying so hard there was not going to be another yellow. But I knew there was probably going to be one.”
On the restart with two laps to go, Ericsson was first and O’Ward was second. The two were just a couple of feet apart when they headed into Turn 1 after the  final green waved.
“It was hard to sort of refocus,” Ericsson said. “But I knew the car was amazing.”
O’Ward took his one shot for the lead shortly afterward but could not get past Ericsson. From there, O’Ward faded, his chance for a win gone but the second-place finish was his best at Indy.
Asked if he should have made a more aggressive mood, O’Ward said, “He was going to put me in the wall if I would have gone for it. We were alongside each other. We did everything to get it done. It’s frustrating. It’s bittersweet. Definitely stings.
“I knew when the restart happened I would have one shot, I’d have to go flat and it still wasn’t enough. So sadly, they had the faster car. We need to do a better job to beat them, but I’m really proud of the job we did today, it’s my best result in the Indianapolis 500. It’s a tough pill to swallow after a good race.”
Ericsson is the second Swede to win the Indy 500. Kenny Brack won in 1999.
Scott Dixon’s hopes to win his second 500 came flying apart when he was tagged for speeding on pit road on his final stop of the day. To that point, he spent the bulk of the race at the front of the field. He was leading when he headed to the pits with 25 laps to go.
After serving his drive-through penalty, he dropped out of the top 20. He finished 21st.
Helio Castroneves’ bid to become the first five-time winner of the 500 came up short as the Meyer-Shank Racing veteran finished seventh.
Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Johnson was considered a pre-race favorite as he qualified 12th. But once the race went green, he slid backward in his Chip Ganassi Racing Honda and was done in by his late crash.
Ganassi drivers Dixon and Alex Palou spent the first 70 laps exchanging the lead as per team orders in an effort to save fuel. That strategy unraveled on Lap 70 when, as Palou headed into the pits, a crash brought out a yellow flag.
Palou, who led 42 laps, could not abandon his pit stop before the flag waved. He continued on through pits but then was forced to head to his stall a lap later as he was out of fuel. When the race restarted, Palou, last year’s IndyCar Series champ, was 30th. He worked his way forward, however, and finished ninth.
Rinus VeeKay of the Netherlands became the first major contender to drop out of the race on Lap 39. VeeKay, who had ran second for several laps, lost control near Turn 2 and slammed the wall, where it burst into flames. It slid into the infield grass and VeeKay emerged unhurt. The Ed Carpenter Racing driver had started the race on the outside of the front row.
A second, almost identical Turn 2 wreck involving rookie Callum Ilott occurred on Lap 70. He, too, was uninjured. Ilott had started 28th.
On Lap 106, Turn 2 struck again as Romain Grosjean of Andretti Autosport crashed out.
On Lap 145, Turn 3 took out a contender when Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin slammed the wall. He had started 26th but worked his way forward. His only injury, he said, was “a bruised ego”.
Turn 2 would take Johnson out with six laps to go.
(This story will be updated shortly)

INDIANAPOLIS – Results Sunday of the 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge NTT INDYCAR SERIES event on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (5) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 200, Running
2. (7) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 200, Running
3. (6) Tony Kanaan, Honda, 200, Running
4. (8) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 200, Running
5. (20) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 200, Running
6. (18) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 200, Running
7. (27) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 200, Running
8. (16) Simon Pagenaud, Honda, 200, Running
9. (2) Alex Palou, Honda, 200, Running
10. (15) Santino Ferrucci, Chevrolet, 200, Running
11. (30) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 200, Running
12. (17) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 200, Running
13. (14) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 200, Running
14. (21) Graham Rahal, Honda, 200, Running
15. (11) Will Power, Chevrolet, 200, Running
16. (13) David Malukas, Honda, 200, Running
17. (28) Kyle Kirkwood, Chevrolet, 200, Running
18. (31) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, 200, Running
19. (4) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 200, Running
20. (24) Devlin DeFrancesco, Honda, 200, Running
21. (1) Scott Dixon, Honda, 200, Running
22. (23) Marco Andretti, Honda, 200, Running
23. (22) Sage Karam, Chevrolet, 199, Running
24. (32) Jack Harvey, Honda, 199, Running
25. (10) Takuma Sato, Honda, 199, Running
26. (33) Stefan Wilson, Chevrolet, 198, Running
27. (29) Dalton Kellett, Chevrolet, 198, Running
28. (12) Jimmie Johnson, Honda, 193, Contact
29. (26) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 150, Contact
30. (25) Colton Herta, Honda, 129, Mechanical
31. (9) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 105, Contact
32. (19) Callum Ilott, Chevrolet, 68, Contact
33. (3) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 38, Contact

Race Statistics
Winner’s average speed: 175.428 mph
Time of Race: 02:51:00.6432
Margin of victory: Under caution
Cautions: 6 for 31 laps
Lead changes: 38 among 9 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Palou, Alex 1 – 7
Dixon, Scott 8 – 9
Palou, Alex 10 – 12
Dixon, Scott 13 – 16
Palou, Alex 17 – 21
Dixon, Scott 22 – 29
Palou, Alex 30
VeeKay, Rinus 31
Ericsson, Marcus 32
O’Ward, Pato 33 – 35
Palou, Alex 36 – 47
Dixon, Scott 48 – 50
Palou, Alex 51
Dixon, Scott 52 – 53
Palou, Alex 54 – 57
Dixon, Scott 58 – 59
Palou, Alex 60 – 68
O’Ward, Pato 69 – 72
Dixon, Scott 73 – 79
Daly, Conor 80 – 81
Dixon, Scott 82 – 83
Daly, Conor 84 – 85
Dixon, Scott 86 – 108
Daly, Conor 109 – 111
Dixon, Scott 112 – 140
O’Ward, Pato 141 – 143
Kanaan, Tony 144
Ericsson, Marcus 145
Palou, Alex 146 – 147
O’Ward, Pato 148 – 157
Dixon, Scott 158 – 160
O’Ward, Pato 161 – 164
Dixon, Scott 165 – 174
O’Ward, Pato 175 – 176
Kanaan, Tony 177 – 181
Palou, Alex 182 – 184
Andretti, Marco 185 – 187
Johnson, Jimmie 188 – 189
Ericsson, Marcus 190 – 200

Ericsson 226, O’Ward 213, Palou 212, Power 202, Newgarden 174, Dixon 166, McLaughlin 162, Pagenaud 157, Rosenqvist 154, Herta 142, Rossi 141, Daly 137, VeeKay 134, Rahal 130, Grosjean 128, Castroneves 123, Lundgaard 103, Sato 100, Malukas 90, Kanaan 78, Kirkwood 77, Harvey 73, Johnson 71, Ilott 71, Ferrucci 62, DeFrancesco 62, Hildebrand 53, Carpenter 49, Kellett 45, Montoya 44, Tatiana Calderon 41, Andretti 17, Karam 14, Wilson 10


| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 29 2022
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