Monday, March 27, 2023

Ericsson’s 500 win helps boost Swedish momentum at IndyCars

Indianapolis ( Associated Press) – Felix Rosenquist realized that fans of the Swedish breed started following IndyCars again in 2019.

Marcus Ericsson’s Indianapolis 500 win will only boost momentum.

after becoming Second 500 winner from SwedenEricsson’s homecoming later this summer could be fit for a king.

“I’m planning to go home in the middle of summer, it could be a nice party in the middle of summer, right?” He won, he said Sunday, by making Halsky Chocolate, a Swedish-based company, his primary sponsor.

First, Ericsson must complete a one-week Victory Tour. That could be followed by a two-week break in Detroit next Sunday and Road America the following Sunday before finally allowing Ericsson to enjoy its country festivities.

But Ericsson, 31, doesn’t mind a busy schedule, especially the long, arduous path he took to join the world of IndyCar racing with his mentor, Kenny Brack. Brack won the 500 in 1999.

And Ericsson’s rapid ascension is likely to keep interest in American racing across Europe.

Ericsson’s Trek could serve as a model for other international racers. After failing to make the podium in his 97 Formula One debut, Ericsson left for IndyCars in 2019. He finished 17th as a rookie, was turned loose by Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and bought a ride with Chip Ganassi Racing.

Since then, Ericsson has relied on the advice given by Braque all those years earlier to produce three top-five finishes in each of the previous three seasons. Three wins including Sunday. Braque isn’t surprised by the results – and understands how Sweden will embrace its latest star.

“It’s great to see, such a big congratulations,” Brack said on an urgent phone call on Sunday. “I don’t think you’ve realized yet what this means for your career, but you’ll know when the time comes.”

While Ericsson’s victory overtook Sweden, it is also a boon for the series.

Three Nordic country drivers are already full-time IndyCar drivers – Ericsson, Rosenquist and Denmark’s 21-year-old rookie Christian Lundgaard. Add 21-year-old Rinus VK of the Netherlands and teammate of Ericsson, defending series champion Alex Palu of Spain, and a distinctly impressive European flavor is developing.

With American drivers such as Colton Huerta and Joseph Newgarden, Pato O’Ward of Mexico, 500 runner-up, and a strong but aging group of South American drivers continuing to win the hearts of IndyCar fans, there is no sign of global talent. is ending.

Four-time Indy champ Helio Castroneves likens what’s happening in Northern Europe today to the transformative South American team he helped lead two decades ago.

“It does,” said the Brazilian. “I can’t even pronounce the names of those guys because they’re Swedish, but I think all these people see what’s going on and they should. If you’ve got enough talent, you’re in that place.” Why not come where if you’re good, you’re going to get the opportunity?”

Rosenquist and Ericsson certainly found it in America.

They jumped together after Rosenquist’s F1 pursuit ended. He initially landed with Ganassi’s team, earning the honor of the year in 2019 and the first win of his career at Road America in 2020.

Rosenquist moved to Arrow McLaren SP last year and while he is yet to return to winning ways, the 31-year-old has won one pole, posted four top-10 finishes and went to victory on Sunday before ending his career. Were in contention—best fourth, giving Sweden two places in the top five.

“Obviously, the people who follow me and Marcus spread the word around,” Rosenquist said. “There was a big spike in 2019 when we both came here and now it is a steadily growing fan base in Sweden. With all the new talent in Sweden, I think we have a good future in America.

The question is, how much will Ericsson’s big win help?

Drivers with previous Formula One experience, such as Ericsson, France’s Romain Grosjean and Japan’s Takuma Sato, have found more success in the US than overseas.

Spain’s Fernando Alonso, a two-time world champion, could also return to the 500 at some point.

There are no signs of diminishing inflow of talent or opportunities.

The series already has 26 full-time entries, its highest total in a decade, and at least three additional teams – Cusick Motorsports, Pareta Autosport and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing – would like to run full-time.

This could open the door to even more Swedes as Ericsson’s 500 win sees them top IndyCar as the new points leader.

“It is something you have been dreaming of for so long. To really make it happen, you have to pinch yourself,” he said. “All that support (from Sweden) is very important to me. I love it. I am extremely grateful for that. I hope he enjoys that moment.”


More Associated Press Indy 500 coverage: And

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