INDIANAPOLIS ( Associated Press) — Swedish driver Marcus Ericsson has abandoned Formula One to become a global superstar, a goal he achieved Sunday when he won the Indianapolis 500.
Ericsson had seized control of Sunday’s race shortly before the end — largely due to teammate Scott Dixon’s speed penalty — and retained it for Chip Ganassi Racing. But his other teammate, Jimmie Johnson, crashed with four laps remaining and the race was interrupted with an unusual red flag at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
IndyCar is among the purest motorsport competitions and very rarely are artificial warnings issued or the race stopped for situations that could change the outcome.
But a crowd of more than 300,000 — just a few thousand short of tying the sellout and the largest since the start of the pandemic — cheered as IndyCar asked cars to head to pit lane.
The break gave Mexico’s Pato O’Ward and the rest of the field nearly 12 minutes in pit lane to devise a strategy to catch up with Ericsson for victory.
The race resumed with two laps to go and Ericcson easily overtook O’ward, who considered for the last time reaching the lead that the Swede was defending but did not want to force the situation.
“No, I was going to be up against the wall if I tried,” O’Ward said.
A collision by Sage Karam amongst the stragglers forced a final lap caution and Ericcson took the victory podium under a yellow flag. Karam was taken to a hospital due to a muscle ailment.
For Ericsson it was his third IndyCar win in 52 career opportunities. All were extraordinary triumphs after red flag interruptions, but he never assumed he would win when he waited in his car for the resumption of the competition.
“You can never take anything for sure and there was a lack of turns,” said Ericsson. “I was just praying that there wasn’t going to be a yellow card, then I found out that they would possibly take her out, and it would be difficult to get my concentration back.”
But he did it and held on until he got the most important victory of his career. Ericcson was winless in five seasons in F1 before heading to the United States for North American races.
O’Ward did not give up. He signed a contract extension on Friday with Arrow McLaren SP and desperately wanted victory. But he finished second and came close to making his attempt to give Mexico a grand celebration on what would be the biggest day in motorsports in his country. Mexican Sergio Pérez won the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday.
Tony Kanaan finished third in a Gannasi car followed by Swede Felix Rosenqvist who was fourth for McLaren.