IndyCar newsflash: Ericsson wins in Nashville, Lundgaard to make debut

IndyCar newsflash: Ericsson wins in Nashville, Lundgaard to make debut
Chris Owens

Marcus Ericsson wins the Nashville melee ahead of teammate Scott Dixon after a spectacular airborne moment – Penske drivers have multiple collisions with each other – Pato O’Ward secures pole position in Indianapolis – Christian Lundgaard makes his IndyCar debut

Marcus Ericsson seems to feel right at home on the street circuits of the IndyCar Series. After his Detroit victory and two top-10 results, the Chip Ganassi driver – despite a spectacular rear-end collision with Sebastien Bourdais ( A.J. Foyt Enterprises) – won the inaugural race in the Music City. 

Lining up behind Ericsson was teammate Scott Dixon, who couldn’t find a way past the Swede after a late restart. Meanwhile, James Hinchcliffe (Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport) celebrated his first podium since the Iowa Grand Prix on June 21, 2019. 

Ericsson wins despite airborne incident and subsequent penalty

Ericsson, who started the race from 18th on the grid, initially drew unglamorous attention following the first caution on lap 4. The Swede roared into the rear of Sebastien Bourdais on the restart and climbed up the rear end of the Frenchman. “Air-icsson” landed on all four wheels, however, and was able to continue the race after a wing change and subsequent penalty for the collision.

However, it took until the caution period on lap 31 for the Swede – benefitting from the numerous cautions – to take the lead away from long-term leader Colton Herta (Andretti Autosport). In the end, Ericsson managed to turn his mishap at the start of the race into a pit stop strategy advantage to celebrate his second win of the season.

Dominator Herta retires after driver error

Herta, who already showed his strength in Nashville in qualifying and distanced the competition by half a second, dominated the race at will for a long time. However, the many cautions did not play into the cards of the US boy and his pit stop strategy at all. 

Consequently, Herta left no stones unturned towards the end of the race to catch Ericsson again, using fresher tyres and carrying more spare fuel. However, with six laps to go, Herta made a major mistake which spelled the end for the Andretti Autosport driver on the unforgiving street circuit.

Penske drivers give each other a hard time

Team Penske, meanwhile, was largely eliminating each other’s chances of winning. Although Josef Newgarden finished the race in tenth position despite a bent suspension (as a result of a collision with Graham Rahal), he fell short of his own expectations.

Will Power, Scott McLaughlin and Simon Pagenaud, on the other hand, produced two yellows and one red flag causing a lot of frustration for team boss Roger Penske. On one of the numerous restarts, Power collided with Pagenaud on lap 20. With a total of eleven cars involved, this collision led to a veritable roadblock and ultimately resulted in a red flag.

But there was more to come: in the final third of the race, it was Power again who committed the “ultimate sin” in motorsport, this time sending teammate McLaughlin into a spin. It was a rather clumsy performance by the 2014 season champion that will have caused some internal debate.

IndyCar returns to Indianapolis – O’Ward on pole as Lundgaard makes debut

The IndyCar Series enters its next round as early as August 14. For the third time this season, teams and drivers head to Indianapolis. After the race on the Grand Prix circuit and the Indy 500 in May, it is going to be the second race on the Grand Prix configuration. 

After a thrilling qualifying session, Pato O’Ward (McLaren SP) and Power are set to start on row one ahead of Romain Grosjean (Dale Coyne Racing) and Formula 2 youngster Christian Lundgaard (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing). In the end, fifth-placed Colton Herta finished just 0.048 seconds behind pole-sitter O’Ward. 

Christian Lundgaard made a stunning debut by qualifying in 4th – Credit: Chris Jones

Lundgaard is taking over the #45 cockpit from Santino Ferrucci at Indianapolis. The only 20-year-old Dane is a development driver for French Formula 1 outfit Alpine and, for the time being, will only compete in this race due to scheduling conflicts with Formula 2. With barely any preparation time and fourth place in qualifying, however, Lundgaard instantly made a huge impact.

The twelfth round of the IndyCar Series season starts on Saturday evening at 18:45 (CET).

Chris Liemann