Ericsson gets crazy IndyCar win despite early aerial shunt - The Race
IndyCar

Ericsson gets crazy IndyCar win despite early aerial shunt

Aug 9 2021
By Jack Benyon

Marcus Ericsson started 18th, crashed, served a stop-go penalty for it and still won the accident-strewn inaugural Nashville IndyCar street race in a Chip Ganassi Racing 1-2 with Scott Dixon.

The race featured nine cautions covering 33 of its 80 laps, was twice red-flagged and took nearly four hours from the start of pre-race ceremonies to the chequered flag.

After four early cautions and a red flag for shunts, which polesitter Colton Herta comfortably led through, Rinus VeeKay changed the shape of the race when he crashed at Turn 1 on lap 31 of 80.

Herta needed to pit and risked being undercut by a number of earlier pit stoppers from across those early cautions.

However, as Herta pitted the pace car slowed to pick up the new leader as the rest of the initial top six pitted, and then the pace car had to slow again for VeeKay’s crash at Turn 1.

That meant the pace car went so slow that Herta could pit and come out in fourth place.

Ericsson took the lead – despite leaping over the back of Sebastien Bourdais’s car on lap four, for which he earned a penalty – but the fuel he took on after that penalty and more cautions allowed him to jump into a prime position at the head of the field in a move that reflected the topsy turvy order of the race.

When the race resumed Herta and his Andretti team-mate Alexander Rossi made quick work of team-mates James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay on consecutive laps with Herta pressuring new leader Ericsson before another caution.

Ericsson and Rossi pitted hoping for another caution to be able make the end of the race with no more stops, while Herta and Romain Grosjean stayed out.

A puddle of running water forming at Turn 3 extended the caution, playing into the advantage of those who pitted during the yellow and the race didn’t restart until lap 50/80.

On the restart, Arrow McLaren SP’s Patricio O’Ward locked up and hit Rossi at Turn 4, taking second place in the championship O’Ward out of contention via a penalty for unavoidable contact, and ruined the strategies of Herta and Grosjean in the process by triggering another yellow just as they needed to try to make a break.

Herta pitted while Grosjean stayed out, but then another caution on lap 55 for the spinning Cody Ware sent Grosjean into the pits, cycling Ericsson back to the lead with Herta in fifth.

Following the restart, Herta passed Hunter-Reay at Turn 8 and Hinchcliffe and Dixon at Turn 9 in quick succession to then battle Ericsson for the lead.

Ericsson had better straightline speed and more push to pass, which made him more difficult to pass than Herta’s other rivals.

With 12 laps to go Herta finally appeared to have a run on Ericsson and dived at Turn 9 following the bridge, but couldn’t make the move and almost hit the wall on the exit.

As he closed back in towards Ericsson, with five laps to go Herta crashed into the outside of the wall at that Turn 9 corner. Herta appeared to have hurt his thumb in the incident but was cleared in the medical centre afterwards.

Another red flag was called to ensure the race could finish under green, with a final two-lap sprint to decide it.

Ericsson kept Dixon at arm’s length to claim one of the most unusual wins in recent IndyCar memory, and his second of the year.

Behind Dixon, Hinchcliffe held on for a podium ahead of Andretti team-mate Hunter-Reay, both of whom are fighting for their seats next year. They scored their best results of the season from 10th and 14th on the grid respectively.

Graham Rahal was fifth, ahead of Ed Jones – who caused an early caution by punting Scott McLaughlin off at Turn 4 and took a stop-go like Ericsson for it – for his best result of the year.

McLaughlin was also pushed off again later on by his Penske team-mate Will Power, in Power’s second intra-team collision of the race after earlier helping Simon Pagenaud into the wall in a clash that caused a traffic jam and red flag.

Championship leader Alex Palou recovered to seventh after his grid penalty.

Palou pitted before VeeKay’s crash early in the race and that pinned him way down the order, but the points leader never panicked and picked off cars when it was possible and did the rest of his moving with strategy under cautions.

Jones and Palou jumped Felix Rosenqvist on the penultimate lap after Jones opened the door at Turn 9, but eighth was still Rosenqvist’s best result of his Arrow McLaren SP career so far.

Helio Castroneves – in his first race after winning a fourth Indianapolis 500 with Meyer Shank Racing – took ninth, ahead of Josef Newgarden who did the whole race with bent steering after being involved in two accidents, one with Rahal causing his damage.

O’Ward could only recover to 13th after his drivethrough so is down to third in the points behind Dixon, while Grosjean fell to 16th after late contact with Pagenaud and Rossi could only recover to 17th.

Race Results

Pos Name Team Car Laps Laps Led Total Time Fastest Lap Pitstops Pts
1 Marcus Ericsson Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 80 37 2h18m49.83s 1m16.652s 7 51
2 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 80 0 +1.56s 1m16.853s 4 40
3 James Hinchcliffe Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 80 0 +2.392s 1m17.425s 4 35
4 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 80 0 +2.802s 1m17.463s 4 32
5 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 80 0 +4.083s 1m17.378s 4 30
6 Ed Jones Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan Dallara DW12-Honda 80 0 +4.772s 1m17.76s 5 28
7 Alex Palou Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 80 0 +5.533s 1m17.625s 4 26
8 Felix Rosenqvist Arrow McLaren SP Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 80 0 +5.967s 1m17.373s 4 24
9 Hélio Castroneves Meyer Shank Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 80 0 +6.787s 1m17.739s 4 22
10 Josef Newgarden Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 80 0 +7.529s 1m17.294s 4 20
11 Santino Ferrucci Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 80 0 +8.493s 1m17.635s 5 19
12 Conor Daly Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 80 0 +8.832s 1m17.794s 4 18
13 Patricio O'Ward Arrow McLaren SP Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 80 0 +9.121s 1m16.435s 7 17
14 Will Power Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 80 0 +9.596s 1m17.436s 6 16
15 Jack Harvey Meyer Shank Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 80 0 +11.092s 1m17.177s 4 15
16 Romain Grosjean Dale Coyne Racing with RWR Dallara DW12-Honda 80 4 +12.276s 1m17.155s 5 15
17 Alexander Rossi Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 80 0 +16.53s 1m16.661s 5 13
18 Max Chilton Carlin Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 80 0 +24.845s 1m18.291s 8 12
Colton Herta Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 74 39 DNF 1m16.306s 3 15
Cody Ware Daley Coyne Racing with RWR Dallara DW12-Honda 70 0 DNF 1m19.271s 4 10
Simon Pagenaud Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 68 0 DNF 1m17.717s 4 9
22 Scott McLaughlin Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 67 0 +13 laps 1m16.845s 5 8
Dalton Kellett A.J. Foyt Enterprises Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 37 0 DNF 1m18.437s 3 7
Rinus VeeKay Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 24 0 DNF 1m18.098s 2 6
Takuma Sato Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 19 0 DNF 1m18.092s 0 5
Jimmie Johnson Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 18 0 DNF 1m18.675s 1 5
Sébastien Bourdais A.J. Foyt Enterprises Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 5 0 DNF 1m49.046s 1 5

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