Ericsson wins spectacular Indy 500

The start to this 106th edition of the Indianapolis 500 Miles was given under a big blue sky and mercury flirting with 30 degrees. Scott Dixon, author of the fastest poles in event history, lost the lead in favor of defending champion Alex Palou. Behind them, the start went smoothly. The French held their positions, Romain Grosjean stayed in the top 10 to execute his strategy and Simon Pagenaud struggled beyond the top 15.

For the first thirty laps, the two leaders exchanged control, with Rinus VeeKay in the ambush. Positions remained stable until Dixon crashed into the pit lane on lap 30, followed by his rival. Six laps later the entire field was on his second move, Hélio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya being the last two to stop while Will Power lost heavily by stalling on the restart.

The first incident of the race happened just three laps later when VeeKay, second and struggling for control, crashed into the wall. Palou retained the lead after the pace car pulled in, while Grosjean lost two positions. Behind them Pato O’Ward, freshly extended by McLaren, joined the fight to form a leading trio, he who had started seventh.

With the hierarchy frozen, Dixon initiated the second wave of pit stops at the end of lap 68 when Callum Ilott wrecked his car. Álex Palou, who had fallen into the pits while controlling the race, was trapped (refueling prohibited under yellow flag). The Spaniard, forced to stop to avoid running out of fuel, had his dreams of victory shattered as he was sent back to the end of the line.

Ten laps later and after all the cars had been refueled, Dixon maintained control, closely followed by stage locals Conor Daly and Marcus Ericsson. The French saw a different dynamic, with Grosjean falling to 17th place, Pagenaud continuing his climb into the top 10 goalscoring ranks. Positions remained stable halfway through, with a Colton Herta in deep trouble and falling further in the standings throughout the first part of the stage. The American had suffered a very violent crash in the last practice two days earlier and retired after two thirds of the race.

This Indy 500’s third accident occurred on lap 106 when Grosjean went off the track. Unharmed, the rookie of the event hit from left back. The entire peloton then dived for the third stop of the race and O’Ward took advantage of the battle between Dixon and Daly to take the lead at the restart.

Dixon, who had regained control, stopped for his fourth stint at the end of lap 141. Despite a good pit stop, O’Ward prevailed in pit lane play while Felix Rosenqvist entered the battle for victory. With 50 laps to go, Scott McLaughlin became the day’s fourth casualty in a violent contact with the wall and opened the game of strategy.

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On the restart, Dixon took control with 42 loops remaining. The New Zealander maintained control of the race, followed by the McLarens of O’Ward and Rosenqvist before making his final stop with 25 laps to go. But thunderbolt: Dixon drove into the pit lane too quickly, was penalized and had to return to his pits, ruining his chances of winning. Ericsson then joined the fight in a thrilling final stint at the front.

The Swede set a strong pace and quickly took a second lead from O’Ward, then up to three seconds with ten laps remaining. Tony Kanaan moved into the top 3 after a consistent run in the top ten. But with six laps to go, Jimmy Johnson hit the wall himself: the red flag was raised, wiping out the gap created by his teammate Ericsson.

The race was then restarted for just two laps. Ericsson retained the lead while O’Wan struggled with teammate Rosenqvist. In a wheel-to-wheel battle, Ericsson held off the Mexican when Sage Karam crashed on the last lap.

Marcus Ericsson was the second Swede to win the 500 miles (after Kenny Bräck in 1999) and celebrated his third IndyCar success.

Indy 500 2022

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