The Indianapolis 500 came down to the final two laps. After Jimmie Johnson crashed out with four laps to go, IndyCar pulled out the red flag to freeze the field and give drivers a chance to race to the checkered flag. Marcus Ericcson might not have been happy to see the red flag come out and cost him a comfortable lead, but it gave him another chance to fight for the win.
That he did, keeping the Arrow McLaren SP driver of Pato O’Ward at bay to give Chip Ganassi his fifth Indy 500 win. He’s also only the second Swedish winner of the race, with the former F1 driver bringing a global audience to the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
“I can’t believe it. I’m so happy,” Ericcson exclaimed, after his car was lifted to the raised victory lane and drank the celebratory milk.”
“I was praying so hard there was not going to be another yellow, but I knew there was probably going to be one,” Ericsson added about the final laps. After the red flag, he said, “it was hard to re-focus, but I knew the car was amazing. But it was still hard, you know? I had to do everything there and then to keep them behind. I felt you can never take anything for granted, and obviously there was two laps to go.”
Pato O’Ward wasn’t able to get around Ericcson, although he looked to his outside going into Turn 1 on the final lap before the field took the final corner under caution following Sage Karam’s spin.
He wasn’t too unhappy that his move wouldn’t stick. “He was going to put me in the wall if I would have gone for it,” O’Ward said of the pass. “I’m so proud of my team and so proud of myself,” he added.
Tony Kanaan crossed the line in third for Chip Ganassi, followed by McLaren’s Felix Rosenqvist who’d run with his teammate throughout much of the middle of the race. Alexander Rossi rounded out the top five.
Scott Dixon, who was in control of much of the rest of the race, was caught for speeding in the final round of pitstops and was given a drive-through penalty. He finished back in twenty-first.
Chip Ganassi Racing cars were the class of the field all day. “It’s one team, everybody roots for everybody else, everybody works together, and everybody is an open book,” team owner Ganassi said. “You’re going to have things happen in these 500-mile races and they’re not always going to fall your way. So, you know, we were lucky to have five good cars and five good drivers.”
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