Marcus Ericsson picked up his maiden IndyCar victory from 15th on the grid in a dramatic opening race of the Detroit double-header, which was stopped twice for crashes for Felix Rosenqvist and Romain Grosjean.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ericsson vaulted into the lead with five laps to go when long-time race leader Will Power was unable to restart his car when the race resumed following a red flag for Grosjean’s crash.
— IndyCar on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) June 12, 2021
It marks Ericsson’s first-ever IndyCar victory, having previously only taken one podium – a second place at Detroit in 2019 – in his three years in the championship. It’s also his first car racing victory since he won the GP2 feature race at the Nurburgring in 2013.
The first red flag was flown on lap 27 of 70, as Rosenqvist’s Arrow McLaren SP-run machine rocketed into the barriers with a suspected stuck throttle, causing a delay of over an hour.
He was going through the Turn 6 right-hander when he veered into the tyre-lined barriers, dislodging the concrete barrier and sending tyres over the catch fencing.
Rosenqvist was cautiously removed from the wreck by the medical team, and IndyCar’s Dr Geoffrey Billows confirmed that Rosenqvist was “conscious and alert the entire time”, and reported “no loss of sensation anywhere” and “no loss of function”.
The incident turned the race on its head, as the nine leading drivers had to pit shortly after the race restarted, allowing Power to move from 10th place and into the lead ahead of Ericsson and Rinus VeeKay.
Power, who topped practice but started seventh after clipping the wall twice in qualifying, spent the majority of the remainder of the race fending off ex-Formula 1 driver Ericsson at the front of the field.
Their battle was halted with seven laps to go when Grosjean crashed into the wall and heavily damaged the front-right of his Dale Coyne Racing-run machine.
Grosjean had been on course to secure another solid result in his impressive rookie IndyCar season from third on the grid before he picked up a front-right puncture at the halfway point of the race while battling with Simon Pagenaud.
This forced an unplanned pitstop that came shortly after the race restarted and dropped Dale Coyne Racing’s Grosjean to 21st.
Grosjean believed he’d taken some minor suspension damage between qualifying and the red flag. He struggled for pace in the opening stages of the race but had recovered to seventh at the time of his puncture.
His second recovery drive of the result ended when he went into the wall, a crash that warranted a second red flag and set up a four-lap shootout.
When the race was set to resume, Power was unable to start his Team Penske-run car and ended up stranded in the pitlane as Ericsson led the field away for the restart.
But on the restart, it was second-place Takuma Sato facing the pressure and the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner dropped from second to fourth place.
Ericsson was left free to convert his golden opportunity into his maiden IndyCar win to become the seventh different winner in as many races this year.
VeeKay narrowly beat the polesitter Pato O’Ward to the line to secure second place, with Sato and his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team-mates Graham Rahal and Santino Ferrucci rounding out the top six – despite all three of them starting outside the top 15.
Alexander Rossi fought with O’Ward for the race lead before the first red flag, but dropped down to seventh place by the time of the chequered flag.
The top 10 was rounded out by defending champion Scott Dixon, Ed Jones and two-time series champion Josef Newgarden – who recovered well going a lap down after losing a wheel on track following his first pitstop.
Championship leader Alex Palou, who started last on the grid following a dismal qualifying and a six-place grid penalty, came home in 15th place but sees his leading advantage cut to 15 points. O’Ward is now his closest challenger in the standings while Palou’s team-mate Dixon has fallen to third.
It was another difficult IndyCar race for rookie Jimmie Johnson, who managed just 10 laps before a throttle pedal issue grounded him to the garage. He later rejoined the race, only to retire with another issue.
Fellow rookie Scott McLaughlin had a troubled run to 19th place, after sliding into the wall with just under 20 laps to go. The Team Penske driver, who crashed in practice and was the slowest driver of his group in qualifying, finished three laps down.
|Pos||Name||Team||Car||Laps||Laps Led||Total Time||Fastest Lap||Pitstops||Pts|
|1||Marcus Ericsson||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||70||5||1h45m33.112s||1m17.201s||4||51|
|2||Rinus VeeKay||Ed Carpenter Racing||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||70||0||+1.729s||1m17.328s||5||40|
|3||Patricio O'Ward||Arrow McLaren SP||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||70||3||+1.91s||1m17.156s||5||37|
|4||Takuma Sato||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||70||0||+8.169s||1m17.153s||4||32|
|5||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||70||4||+9.464s||1m17.484s||4||31|
|6||Santino Ferrucci||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||70||0||+9.567s||1m17.55s||4||28|
|7||Alexander Rossi||Andretti Autosport||Dallara DW12-Honda||70||2||+10.34s||1m17.672s||5||27|
|8||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||70||16||+10.895s||1m17.042s||4||25|
|9||Ed Jones||Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan||Dallara DW12-Honda||70||2||+11.943s||1m17.386s||4||23|
|10||Josef Newgarden||Team Penske||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||70||0||+12.506s||1m16.643s||6||20|
|11||Sébastien Bourdais||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||70||0||+13.579s||1m17.495s||5||19|
|12||Simon Pagenaud||Team Penske||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||70||0||+13.827s||1m17.246s||4||18|
|13||Conor Daly||Ed Carpenter Racing||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||70||0||+14.792s||1m17.83s||5||17|
|14||Colton Herta||Andretti Autosport||Dallara DW12-Honda||70||0||+16.089s||1m17.464s||5||16|
|15||Alex Palou||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||70||0||+17.253s||1m17.638s||4||15|
|16||Jack Harvey||Meyer Shank Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||70||0||+18.29s||1m17.618s||5||14|
|17||James Hinchcliffe||Andretti Autosport||Dallara DW12-Honda||70||0||+19.011s||1m17.662s||4||13|
|18||Dalton Kellett||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||69||0||+1 lap||1m19.486s||4||12|
|19||Scott McLaughlin||Team Penske||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||67||0||+3 laps||1m18.244s||8||11|
|20||Will Power||Team Penske||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||67||37||+3 laps||1m16.874s||5||13|
|21||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport||Dallara DW12-Honda||65||0||+5 laps||1m17.102s||6||9|
|22||Max Chilton||Carlin||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||65||0||+5 laps||1m18.147s||5||8|
|Romain Grosjean||Dale Coyne Racing with RWR||Dallara DW12-Honda||63||1||DNF||1m17.671s||5||8|
|Jimmie Johnson||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara DW12-Honda||49||0||DNF||1m18.567s||5||6|
|Felix Rosenqvist||Arrow McLaren SP||Dallara DW12-Chevrolet||23||0||DNF||1m18.252s||1||5|