IndyCar

Marcus Ericsson Wins First Indianapolis 500

6 Mins read
(Photo Credit: Chris Owens / Penske Entertainment / Courtesy of IndyCar)

Enduring a red-flag with four laps to go and a thrilling two-lap shootout, Marcus Ericsson has won the 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500, only the second Swede in history to win “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

Ericsson ook the lead with 17 laps to go into turn one past Pato O’Ward, and easily made his way through lap traffic to build a massive gap. Just when it seemed he was going to cruise to victory his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Jimmie Johnson crashed in turn two, bringing out a caution with five laps to go. The race was red-flagged one lap later to give a final shootout to the end, and after a brief caution period Ericsson led O’Ward, Tony Kanaan, Felix Rosenqvist, and Alexander Rossi to green.

Ericsson swerved dramatically to try and break the slipstream to O’Ward, and he succesfully defended from O’Ward coming to the white flag. The young Mexican had one last massive push on Ericsson, daring to make his move on the outside of turn one, but it wasn’t enough to get the move done. As the leaders swerved down the backstretch, the caution flag flew again for Sage Karam, another victim of turn two, ensuring Ericsson a drink of some ice-cold milk (whole was his choice) in victory lane.

“I can’t believe it,” Ericsson said, draped in the winner’s wreath. “I’m so happy.”

Thanks to the Indy 500 being worth double points, this victory catapults Ericsson from eighth place in the championship to the lead.

Scott Dixon took the field to green, but Alex Palou took the lead before the field reached turn three. The duo swapped the lead back and forth over the course of the entire first stint to help save fuel by not staying out front. Conor Daly was the first to hit pit road on lap 30, while Dixon and Palou followed close behind on laps 31 and 32 respectively. Palou blended out in the lead, but began swapping the lead with Dixon again as if they never missed a beat. Rinus Veekay pit on lap 33, and though he blended back out in third he was much closer to the leading two than before, even managing to pass Dixon for second on lap 35.

Unfortunately for the lightning-fast Dutchman, he wrecked in heartbreaking fashion on lap 39, losing control of his car in turn two and smashing the outside wall. Under this caution, Will Power had to make two trips to pit lane for adjustments, squashing his hopes of continuing his top-four finish streak after a fifteenth place effort.

The restart came on lap 47 and once again Dixon dominated the stint, showing once again that he had the fastest car of the race, with Palou in tow. The six-time IndyCar champ made his next pit stop at lap 69. Only one lap later, the caution flag flew for the second time as rookie Callum Ilott also fell victim to turn two, losing control of the car in a nearly identical fashion to Veekay.

(Photo Credit: Chris Jones / Penske Entertainment / Courtesy of IndyCar)

This caution came at the worst possible time for Palou, as he was unable to make it to pit lane before the caution flew and pit road was closed. Much like Dixon in 2021, Palou had to hope to make it back around with enough fuel in the car until pit lane was open, but was unable to make it and had to come in while the pits were closed for emergency service, taking him out of contention for the race win.

Having made his stop before the caution, Daly jumped up to second on the restart. Other major movers included Kanaan and Santino Ferrucci, who now found themselves in the top ten. Dixon led the field back to green on lap 78, and traded the lead with Daly for a few laps before taking the lead for good and continuing his dominant run in the early parts of the race. Daly was the first to hit pit lane at the end of the stint on lap 105, and once again just after he made his stop another caution flag flew on lap 106. This time, the unlucky victim of turn two was Romain Grosjean, the third driver of the day to crash in that corner.

Dixon caught the worst case of deja vu he’ll ever have here, as like Palou earlier he wasn’t able to make it to the pits and was very close on fuel. Luckily, he was able to make it back around when the pits opened to avoid a penalty. Daly led the field to the restart at lap 113, but was immediately swallowed up by O’Ward, Dixon, and Ferrucci, all before turn one. Dixon quickly caught O’Ward to take the lead back by lap 114 and begin to sail away out front again. It was during this stint that Dixon passed Al Unser for the most laps led in Indy 500 history.

The leaders began to pit at lap 141 for their final stops, with Dixon beating out Daly and Rosenqvist. However, O’Ward showed the power of the overcut by taking the lead from Dixon by a strong margin following his stop at lap 144.

Once again soon after a pit stop cycle, the caution was thrown for Scott McLaughlin. The only driver not to wreck in turn two during the race, McLaughlin lost control at the apex of turn three and mashed the outside wall. He slid through the grass with the momentum carrying him to a hard second impact in turn four, thankfully not collecting any other cars. He walked away unharmed.

O’Ward led the field to the restart at lap 159, but Dixon swiped the lead back in the slipstream before the pack even reached turn one, easily leading yet another stint. The final set of pit stops came on lap 176, with both Dixon and Daly diving for the pits. After being the top car all day, it was here that Dixon got struck with a pit road speeding penalty after locking up on his way into pit lane, forcing the surefire winner to serve a drive-through penalty and crushing his hopes in the heartbreaking fashion.

After the final stops, the battle now came down to O’Ward, Rosenqvist, and Ericsson. Ericsson carved through Rosenqvist to immediately hunt down O’Ward, showing yet again how fast Chip Ganassi Racing’s equipment has been all month. He took the lead with 17 laps to go, and built huge gap through lap traffic as the Arrow McLaren SP cars struggled to pass in the dirty air.

Despite the red flag for Johnson (victim number four of turn two) and the race-ending caution for Karam (victim number five), Ericsson persevered to win his first-ever Indy 500.

(Photo Credit: John Cote / Penske Entertainment / Courtesy of IndyCar)

O’Ward once again comes up short, but improved on last year’s result with second this year. Kanaan finished third, a tremendous result after some minor issues on pit lane during a late stop. Rosenqvist finished fourth, a brilliant run that the Swede needs as his contract with AMSP ends after this season. Rounding out the top five was Rossi, who had a brilliant race coming from twentieth on the starting grid to inside the top five as the highest-finishing Andretti Autosport car.

The Hometown Hoosier Daly comes home with another top ten finish at IMS this month with his sixth place finish, followed by the Meyer Shank Racing duo of Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud in seventh and eighth respectively. Another great result for drivers who started outside the top fifteen. Palou was able to recover to finish ninth after his nightmare pit stop early in the race, while Ferrucci comes home tenth. Impressively, that is his worst finish in his Indy 500 career.

Teams don’t have long to rest after that electric Indy 500, as next weekend they head to Detroit, Michigan for the final Detroit Grand Prix on the Belle Isle Street Circuit, which will take place on 05 June.

106th Indianapolis 500 – Official Results

RANKCAR NO.DRIVERNAT.TEAMTOTAL TIME
18Marcus EricssonSWEChip Ganassi Racing02:51:00.6432
25Pato O’WardMEXArrow McLaren SP+ 1.7929 sec.
31Tony KanaanBRAChip Ganassi Racing+ 3.5173 sec.
47Felix RosenqvistSWEArrow McLaren SP+ 4.1267 sec.
527Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Autosport+ 4.9804 sec.
620Conor DalyUSAEd Carpenter Racing+ 5.0799 sec.
706Helio CastronevesBRAMeyer Shank Racing+ 6.5614 sec.
860Simon PagenaudFRAMeyer Shank Racing+ 7.0937 sec.
910Alex PalouESPChip Ganassi Racing+ 8.2446 sec.
1023Santino FerrucciUSADreyer & Reinbold Racing+ 9.8329 sec.
116Juan Pablo MontoyaCOLArrow McLaren SP+ 10.7647 sec.
1211JR HildebrandUSAA.J. Foyt Enterprises+ 11.6554 sec.
132Josef NewgardenUSATeam Penske+ 11.8276 sec.
1415Graham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing+ 12.4253 sec.
1512Will PowerAUSTeam Penske+ 13.3036 sec.
1618David Malukas (R)USADale Coyne Racing w/ HMD Motorsports+ 13.6283 sec.
1714Kyle Kirkwood (R)USAA.J. Foyt Enterprises+ 14.5864 sec.
1830Christian Lundgaard (R)DENRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing+ 16.3308 sec.
1933Ed CarpenterUSAEd Carpenter Racing+ 16.5602 sec.
2029Devlin DeFrancesco (R)CANAndretti Steinbrenner Autosport+ 16.8218 sec.
219Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing+ 18.1238 sec.
2298Marco AndrettiUSAAndretti Herta w/ Marco & Curb Agajanian+ 25.2002 sec.
2324Sage KaramUSADreyer & Reinbold Racing+ 1 lap
2445Jack HarveyGBRRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing+ 1 lap
2551Takuma SatoJPNDale Coyne Racing w/ Rick Ware Racing+ 1 lap
2625Stefan WilsonGBRDragonspeed / Cusick Motorsports+ 2 laps
274Dalton KellettCANA.J. Foyt Enterprises+ 2 laps
2848Jimmie Johnson (R)USAChip Ganassi RacingCrash
293Scott McLaughlinNZLTeam PenskeCrash
3026Colton HertaUSAAndretti AutosportMechanical
3128Romain Grosjean (R)FRAAndretti AutosportCrash
3277Callum Ilott (R)GBRJuncos Hollinger RacingCrash
3321Rinus VeeKayNEDEd Carpenter RacingCrash
(R) – Rookie
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Lifelong sports junkie, currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Hofstra University. Lead writer for Indycar at The Checkered Flag.
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