Ericsson victorious in thrilling fashion at Indianapolis


Marcus Ericsson is an Indy 500 Champion.

The quiet driver from Kumla became the 2nd Swedish driver behind Kenny Bräck to win the famous race, taking the lead from the Arrow McLaren SP duo of Felix Rosenqvist and Pato O’Ward in the final 20 laps of the race to take his first win of 2022 and ownership of the 2022 Driver’s Championship. Ericsson’s victory makes him the 74th different winner to kiss the famed yard of bricks that makes up the start/finish line at Indianapolis.

With the win, team owner Chip Ganassi adds to his legacy in IndyCar with his 5th Indianapolis 500 victory amongst 4 different drivers since 2000, and gives him career victory 80 in the NTT IndyCar Series.

Related Link: 106th Indianapolis 500 Results

Front row domination and heartbreak

The front row of the Indy 500 was one for the ages, with Pole Sitter Scott Dixon, teammate Alex Palou, and Dutchman Rinus VeeKay sitting on the fastest ever front row in Indy 500 history. However, for as dominant as they were during the leadup to the race, one-by-one they all fell victim to the Brickyard.

Early on in the race, the Ganassi drivers were a metric of precision as the duo traded the lead in an effort to keep their fuel mileage maximized. Veekay, always in the mix, made every attempt to keep his BITNile sponsored machine in contention as he traded places with Dixon for 2nd place every few laps.

Then on lap 39 it all started to go wrong:

VeeKay, having taken 2nd place from Dixon, lost control and slammed into the outside wall of turn 2 bringing out the first yellow flag of the race, ending his day after a promising start. VeeKay was unharmed in the crash and apologized to his team after being released from the infield care center:

‘I’m sorry to the team and everyone cheering me on. This could have been a very nice day. It (the car) felt a little different than it had in practice, not a lot of grip. I couldn’t follow Palou super-close. But we made a change on the car during the pitstop and it felt better, so that snap mid-corner in Turn 2 just caught me off-guard. It’s very unfortunate.’

Palou was the next to fall afoul of Indy, knocked out of contention on lap 70 as his Honda machine was forced to make an emergency service stop under closed-pit conditions during a yellow flag after rookie Callum Illot hit the wall in turn 2, bringing out the 2nd caution of the day. The forced stop put Palou a lap down to the leaders and out of contention, putting Dixon solely in the drivers seat.

Dixon then, firmly in control of the race made history on lap 133 when he became the all-time lap-leader in Indy 500 history, surpassing the late Al Unser’s record of 644 laps.

Following Palou’s drop to the back of the field, Dixon found himself trading places with Indiana-Native Conor Daly fr the top spot, much to the delight of the home crowd. As in 2021, Daly led a number of laps early but was unable to content for the win at the end. He did however, take home 6th place overall making it his highest finishing position in the Indy 500 to date.

Dixon, though dominant and a clear favorite, would not have his fairy tale ending. On lap 174 everything fell apart for the 6-time series champion as he was coming to pit lane for his final stop of the race, the Kiwi locked up his tires and exceeded the 60mph pit road speed, resulting in a speeding penalty to be served as a pass through pit lane on the following lap and relegating the number 9 PNCBank Honda to a disappointing 21st place finish.

‘Old’ rookies crash out

Seven rookies took the green flag Sunday afternoon, but it was the “old” rookies of Jimmie Johnson and Romain Grosjean who took the most attention during the week. Both drivers started in the top 12 and took the green flag with promise, however both soon fell back into the field as they were overtaken by more experienced drivers.

Although Callum Illot was the first true rookie to lose his chance at a solid finish – he crashed on lap 69 – it was Romain Grosjean who had his dreams of victory end when the number 28 DHL Honda became the 3rd victim of turn 2.

Unharmed, the Frenchman was mystified by the accident, stating there was no warning for the sudden snap that sent him into the wall:

‘…just disappointed to finish that way. What happened? No idea. The rear end snapped on me without any warning, two guys got caught out in this corner. It was a corner where my car was pretty good over the race. So I don’t what happened. I didn’t try anything different.’

Although the finish was disappointing, Grosjean made his mark on the field and showed he has the speed and consistency it takes to compete at Indy.

The story was much the same with Jimmie Johnson, consistent and impactful. Johnson however, fell back at the start and was mired in the mid-pack, but kept his car clean and was a solid top-20 finish, even going as far as leading a lap before pitting for the final time. The 7-time champion showed promise at his first Indy 500, and should he return in 2023 he would be a threat to win having the most 500-mile races under his belt compared to the field.

With 6 laps to go the dream of finishing the race ended for the 48 car as Johnson also fell into the clutches of turn 2 when the left front tire made contact with the apron of the track and snapped his Ganassi machine head on into the outside wall into the SAFER-barrier. The impact scattered pieces from Johnson’s car over the track and prompted officials to throw the red flag with 5 laps remaining.

Ericsson tastes victory

Leading by over 2.7 seconds, Marcus Ericsson and the Huski Honda was on cruise control for victory when the red flag came out, suddenly throwing a wrench in the system. Having overtaken the Arrow McLaren duo, Ericsson threaded his way through traffic to take a commanding lead and have nothing but clean air in front of him.

With the red flag out, his crew was quickly on the radio to calm him down as now his closest challengers – O’Ward, teammate Tony Kanaan, Rosenqvist, and Alexander Rossi were now suddenly directly behind him with no gap or margin for error. The field was brought back onto the track, and with 3 laps remaining, the green flag was dropped for a final 3 lap shootout that saw Ericsson fight O’ward with every inch of the track to hold on to the top position.

As Ericsson entered the final turns, having shaken O’Ward, the number 24 car of Sage Karam was shown bouncing off the wall in turn 2, bringing out the final caution and ending the race under yellow flag conditions, solidifying the win for the Swede as his family, girlfriend, and team jumped over the pit lane wall, cheering in victory.

On to the Motor City

IndyCar’s marathon “Month of May” is sadly over, but the racing continues as the series makes it’s annual stop in Detroit for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix at the Belle Isle street circuit. This 13-turn, 2.35 temporary circuit is a favorite to drivers and fans alike, with it’s fast straights and hard braking zones providing numerous opportunities for passing and problems to arise.

2021’s version of the race saw an extended red flag session for the Arrow SP car of Felix Rosenqvist, when his throttle stuck open and sent him into the tire barriers causing the car to flip up and over, nearly springing him out of the circuit confines. Rosenqvist was unhurt in the incident, but saw fellow Swede Marcus Ericsson take him a win on the Isle, his first in the NTT IndyCar Series.

Coverage begins on NBC/Peacock (US) on Friday, June 3rd at 3:30pm ET with race coverage on Sunday, June 5th, at 3:00pm ET.