Arrow SPM rookie Marcus Ericsson is looking forward to making use of the lessons learned from a bittersweet oval debut at the Indianapolis 500.
The Swede qualified 13th and had the No. 7 inside the top 10 in the first part of the race before spinning and tagging the wall on pit road. He eventually rejoined, and was classified 23rd.
“I was still learning the whole time I was out there — first start on an oval, first restarts, the pit stops, running in a pack,” he told RACER.
“It was quite cool to run with Scott [Dixon] and these guys that have tons of experience, and pick things up from them. We had a good car — we were running in the top 10, top eight I think, for most of the first half of the race, and it’s a shame what happened.
“Obviously it’s a bit different to what I’m used to, running without braking for five laps, and I think I just got a bit too eager. I was too aggressive with the brake point and lost the rear. I felt really bad, because I know how much this means for the team and everyone here, and we had such a good month, with qualifying, and the race was going well. It’s a tough one to swallow, to throw it away with a silly thing like that.
“We managed to get back out, and even though we were a couple of laps down we finished the race. That was my goal going into it — first to finish the race, and from then on we had other goals. So we finished the race, and learned a ton, but I feel a bit bad for the guys because they did an awesome job all month.”
Ericsson admitted that he went into May still feeling a touch of uncertainty about how he’d adapt to oval racing, but said that having now participated in the 500 has deepened his respect for what’s involved.
“It’s a very special month, and I’m very proud to have participated in it, because it’s such a spectacular race,” he said.
“For me, you watch ovals and oval racing, and I think it’s easy to underestimate the challenge of it. To go at those speeds wheel-to-wheel with these walls around you… mentally that’s really tough. Today was a long race, and physically I feel fine, but mentally it’s a really big challenge. For sure, I understand more how difficult it is to race and be successful on ovals. But that’s the thing — I didn’t know coming into this month what I was going to think about ovals. ‘Will I like it? Will I hate it? What’s it going to be like?’ And I have to say, it’s been a really fun month, and I had fun every time I went out there. I can’t wait to try again.”