Marcus Ericsson was once a Formula One backmarker and is now an IndyCar driver.
An Indianapolis 500 champion.
Ericsson became the second Swede winner of Indy 500 when he defeated some of the most prominent names in North American auto racing before the largest crowd of his entire life.
Ericsson said, "It's a big race in the world." He called it his greatest victory "by a mile."
After five disappointing seasons in Formula One, the 31-year old arrived in IndyCar in 2019. After having worked his whole life to get to the top of motorsports, he was unable to win a single podium finish in IndyCar. He had 97 starts.
His first season in North America was not a great one. Ericsson was fired from his IndyCar team in the first year. He then purchased a seat at Chip Ganassi Racing, noting that he had said "winning Indy 500, it isn't bad for a paid driver," and has continued to make steady progress in 36 races with Ganassi ever since 2020.
It's been hard. Five years of Formula One racing, nearly a hundred grand prixs. I ran for small teams and was in the back most of the time. Running in the back is not a popular position. Ericsson stated that people think you're not very talented. "I came here from Sweden, and people probably didn’t see that. It was hard work that I did to learn American racing.
Ericsson won the race late, mainly because Scott Dixon was speeding. Jimmie Johnson crashed with Ganassi teammate Jimmie Johnson four laps left. This rare red flag stopped the race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
IndyCar is one of the most pure forms of motorsports. It rarely issues artificial cautions or stops for reasons that could affect the outcome. The crowd of over 300,000 was roaring when IndyCar called the cars onto the pit road.
Pato O'Ward, the rest of the challengers, and almost 12 minutes left on pit road for Pato to plan how to pass Ericsson. Ericsson was pondering his plans.
He said that the 10 minutes spent in the pit lane while the red flag flew was the most difficult of his life. "Thinking about what to do, knowing that I'm leading one of the largest races in the world, and that I'm so close to winning it, were some of the most challenging 10 minutes of my entire life."
Ericsson took the lead over O'Ward with two laps to go when the race resumed. Ericsson gave the Mexican a final look at the lead, which Ericsson protected. O'Ward did not force the issue.
O'Ward stated, "Nah. He was going to put me into the wall if he had gone for it."
Sage Karam crashed, bringing out another caution on the last lap. Ericsson was able to coast to victory under yellow. Karam was taken to the hospital for treatment of muscle soreness.