Marcus Ericsson made up 14 positions during Saturday’s Indianapolis Grand Prix but it wasn’t enough for the Swede to hold onto the championship lead. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Indianapolis 500 winner surrendered his place atop the drivers’ standings to Team Penske’s Will Power after Ericsson finished 11th and the Australian improved from fourth at the start of the 85-lap contest to third at the checkered flag.
Leading Power by eight points before the green flag waved, Ericsson heads to next weekend’s event on the streets of Nashville — where he won last year — with a deficit of nine points to the 2014 IndyCar Series champion.
Did the hard-charging Formula 1 veteran get everything out of his No. 8 Honda after an engine problem in qualifying left him starting last in the field?
“Yes and no,” Ericsson told RACER. “I think starting 25th, it was damage limitation, for sure. We had a goal to be top 10 and I think we would have been able to achieve that, because we did that long first stint on the primary tires. That put us in a really good spot for the rest of the race, being able to run the three sets of sticker [and faster alternate] tires and not having to do full 25-lap stints, so that was really putting us in a good position.
“I was just starting to get rewards from that when that yellow came out and neutralized the whole race for us. We came out of that yellow and now everyone was on the same tires and the same fuel, so that sort of advantage we would have had for the rest of the race was gone. We thought maybe top seven or top eight would have been possible if it would have stayed green, but that’s racing. We still had a good day and were the biggest mover on the field. We can’t complain too much after what happened yesterday with that.”
Ericsson wasn’t fond of losing the championship lead and hopes to correct the situation next Sunday.
“We would have liked to keep that lead, but obviously after yesterday, I knew it was gonna be a bit difficult to do that,” he said. “But still, being nine points behind, we’re very much in the mix. So we go to Nashville where we were extremely strong last year, and I feel like our street course package is our strongest one of the different tracks we have left to go to, so I’m feeling confident about it.
“I’m really determined to get that lead back from Will. He seems to always find a way to go for winning the races. I saw him behind me there at one point in the race and I was like, ‘OK, that’s good. He’s having a bad day.’ I look at the list [again] and he’s P3. He’s having an amazing year, and we’re gonna give it everything through the western swing to try and get this championship.”