Ericsson repels last-lap attack from O’Ward to win Indianapolis 500

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Marcus Ericsson survived a tense two-lap shootout with Pato O’Ward to take the biggest win of his racing career in the Indianapolis 500.

Ericsson burst into contention in the final 25 laps of 200 around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

His Ganassi team mate Scott Dixon, who had dominated the first three quarters of the race, picked up a drive-through penalty for speeding into the pit lane on his final pit stop. It denied Dixon a second win for another year, despite sitting on pole for the second year in a row.

With 20 laps to go, Ericsson was running behind the McLaren SP duo of Felix Rosenqvist and Pato O’Ward. He overtook O’Ward on lap 181, then grabbed the virtual lead of the race on lap 183 when he went past his compatriot Rosenqvist.

And once all cars made their final pit stops, Ericsson had a three-second lead to O’Ward, thanks to perfectly-timed overtakes on lapped backmarkers.

But all of that appeared to change with five laps remaining when another of his team mates, super rookie Jimmie Johnson, crashed out at turn two. That caused the fifth full-course caution of the race and, eventually, a red flag to set up a two-lap shoot-out to decide the biggest race of the IndyCar season.

Ericsson drove defensively for the final five miles, doing all that he could to keep O’Ward behind him. O’Ward had a fantastic run out of turn four as the leaders took the white flag, and sized up a move around Ericsson – only for the Swede to slam the door on the Mexican driver. A final-lap crash for Sage Karam outside the top ten brought the race under yellow for the final time, securing the victory for Ericsson.

Ericsson may have been the most overlooked of Ganassi’s five drivers that had a shot of winning this race. But the former protege of 1999 winner Kenny Brack will have his name and likeness etched on the fabled Borg-Warner Trophy as the winner of the Indy 500 – the defining moment of a career that has twisted through Europe and Japan, four seasons in the GP2 series, then five mostly fruitless years in Formula 1 before making the change to IndyCar and having his breakthrough season in 2021.

O’Ward, who finished sixth in the 2020 race and fourth in 2021, improved two more positions to finish second in the first race since confirming a contract extension with McLaren SP.

Tony Kanaan, the 37-year-old one-time winner driving what may be his final Indy 500, surged past Rosenqvist in the final 20 laps and eventually finished third. It was his best finish at the 500 since winning it in 2013. Rosenqvist came fourth, his best result since joining McLaren SP at the start of the 2021 season – and a much-needed result for him as he nears the end of his contract.

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2016 winner aAlexander Rossi rallied from 20th to finish fifth thanks in some part to some brave moves on the restart. He led home long-time friend and Indiana native Conor Daly, whose sixth-place finish is his best-ever Indy result. Daly jumped up the order thanks to a perfectly-timed pit stop that came just before the second caution for Callum Ilott’s crash at turn two.

Four-time and defending winner Helio Castroneves picked his way from 27th to finish in seventh, ahead of team mate Simon Pagenaud in eighth.

Alex Palou finished ninth, but could have been a contender for victory if he’d not been caught out by the second caution for Ilott’s accident. Palou was trading the lead with his Ganassi team mate Dixon in the first quarter of the race, but he was forced to take emergency refuelling service in a closed pit lane – and had to restart at the tail end of the field. Santino Ferrucci, driving for part-time independents Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, finished 10th.

The top rookie was Dale Coyne Racing/HMD driver David Malukas, who finished 16th.

Dixon dropped to 21st in the end, his 95 laps in the lead serving as little consolation for yet another near miss with a legacy-defining second win at Indy.

In total there were six cautions for single-car accidents, and we can confirm that all drivers were not seriously injured. The first came on lap 39 when front-row starter Rinus VeeKay crashed at turn two, the same place where Ilott crashed out on lap 69, bringing out the second caution.

Romain Grosjean’s first appearance in the race ended with a crash on lap 106, also at turn two. And on lap 151, Scott McLaughlin’s day ended with a scary crash at turns three and four, where he nearly collected Ed Carpenter after the first impact.

It was also a brutal day for Colton Herta, who retired after 129 laps due to a mechanical failure after rapidly dropping off the pace. He was driving a backup car after a heavy crash during Friday’s Carb Day practice sessions.

Ericsson’s victory is the sixth for car owner Chip Ganassi, succeeding Emerson Fittipaldi (1989 in a joint entry with Pat Patrick), Juan Pablo Montoya (2000), the aforementioned Dixon in 2008, and Dario Franchitti in 2010 and 2012.

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2022 Indianapolis 500 results

PositionCarDriverTeamEngine
18Marcus EricssonGanassiHonda
25Pato O’WardMcLaren SPChevrolet
31Tony KanaanGanassiHonda
47Felix RosenqvistMcLaren SPChevrolet
527Alexander RossiAndrettiHonda
620Conor DalyCarpenterChevrolet
76Helio CastronevesMeyer ShankHonda
860Simon PagenaudMeyer ShankHonda
910Alex PalouGanassiHonda
1023Santino FerrucciDRRChevrolet
1166Juan Pablo MontoyaMcLaren SPChevrolet
1211JR HildebrandFoytChevrolet
132Josef NewgardenPenskeChevrolet
1415Graham RahalRLLHonda
1512Will PowerPenskeChevrolet
1618David MalukasCoyne/HMDHonda
1714Kyle KirkwoodFoytChevrolet
1833Ed CarpenterCarpenterChevrolet
1929Devlin DeFrancescoAndretti SteinbrennerHonda
2030Christian LundgaardRLLHonda
219Scott DixonGanassiHonda
2298Marco AndrettiAndretti/HertaChevrolet
2324Sage KaramDRRChevrolet
2445Jack HarveyRLLHonda
2551Takuma SatoCoyne/RWRHonda
264Dalton KellettFoytChevrolet
2725Stefan WilsonDragonSpeed/CusickChevrolet
2848Jimmie JohnsonGanassiHonda
293Scott McLaughlinPenskeChevrolet
3026Colton HertaAndrettiHonda
3128Romain GrosjeanAndrettiHonda
3277Callum IlottJuncos HollingerChevrolet
3321Rinus VeeKayCarpenterChevrolet

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Author information

RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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32 comments on “Ericsson repels last-lap attack from O’Ward to win Indianapolis 500”

  1. I hate this trend of throwing a red flag purely for the show to try to get a green flag finish.

    If something happens late on and the race winds up ending under caution then thats just the way it goes.

    Glad that the order ended up not Changing much after the restart.

    1. I absolutely LOVE the trend of red flagging the race to enable racing on the last laps. It’s the only right way to go.

      I’m absolutely heart-broken for Dixon, also happy to see Kanaan up there in the 3rd.
      I also think that the “no pit under yellow” rule would have to be revised seeing how much it can ruin somebody’s race totally at random, this time it was Palou.

      1. I’m with @stefmeister, I cannot stand this show over sporting integrity rule which can turn the last laps into a complete lottery.

        Today we were fortunate that Ericsson held on for a win he had earned but in the past we have seen the leader keft completely defenceless and had a win robbed from them because the show was deemed more important than the sport.

        If it ends under yellow then it ends under yellow. Throwing a show red flag or doing that ridiculous race extension that nascar does isn’t right and isn’t fair. It is the worst sort of show over sport artificial gimmick.

        Complete and utter joke of a thing which has no business been used in something that is supposed to be a serious, top level sport!

        Leave that nonsense to the joke that is nascar.

        1. But isn’t finishing under yellow just as much of a lottery in some circumstances? And why have a boring end to the race when it can be neutralised and everyone gets a fair shot – it’s not like Ericsson had a massive lead.

          And weren’t a lot of F1 fans complaining that they could have red flagged it at Abu Dhabi 2021, and given Hamilton and Verstappen a fair fight? That would have been great!

          I can’t understand all these “pure racing” comments that are trying to argue it’s somehow better running the last 5 laps of a race as a parade behind the safety car when there are other options available.

          1. Bruno Verrari
            30th May 2022, 1:15

            Ericsson had a lead of some 5 seconds, built up during hard work across 10-15-20 laps, enough to win Indy500.
            ”Anyone” should absolutely NOT have an equal chance to the win from a restart with 4 laps to go – that’s a lottery, not merit-and skill-based racing.

          2. Sure but it could have worked the other way round… Someone could have worked hard to cut a gap down and just as they are about to pull a move for the lead, the yellow comes out. In that case, the race is won by a luck instead of merit and skill-based racing.

            At least with a red flag, it’s a fair fight to the end even if you lose the gap you’ve built up. As shown today, even with that happening, you can still win on merit as Ericsson did.

        2. The “purest” form of racing means you race from first lap ’til the last lap and all interruptions are red-flagged.

        3. By your logic – every yellow should be held to the end of the race! The yellow that happend on lap 1 or 8 should be held to the very end of the race. Because every single yellow nullifies all advantages in the entire field by bringing the field together. This is utterly nonsensical.

          You’re against redflagging the race and giving them the last 5 laps of racing, but you’re perfectly fine if a yellow was retracted 5 laps to go resulting in an exact same scenario. You need to rethink that, hahaha.
          Once there is a yellow flag, the field is brought together no matter a potential red flag. The red flag late in the race simply lessens the impact of the yellow by not letting the last laps vanish into non-existence.

          1. By your logic why not make the entire race 2 laps only? Why bather with 200 laps if the all mighty entertainment has to come from the last 2? 180 laps of “entertaining” battle, lead changes, passes, forgotten because the last one was “boring”? JESUS…. bring back Massi

  2. Race of his life, so happy for him!

    Fully deserved the win, they tried to farce it with that late red flag, very much Abu Dhabi like, but he held P1.

  3. Congrats to Marcus E. He was there entire race and showed speed when matttered.
    S.Dixon throw this race with stupid pit lane penalty for what? 0.1 sec???
    That from driver of with so much exp? I was shocked what he did for marginal gain at most.

  4. Marcus is a legend now!

  5. Prashanth Ramadas
    29th May 2022, 22:28

    These days change happens very fast. When things spread it spreads even more.

  6. That McLaughlin/Carpenter moment could have been very dangerous indeed, thankfully they didn’t hit each other.

    Ericson pulled out an impressive lead there after the final stops with some quick moves through the traffic and the guys on the alternative strategy. The McLaren duo couldn’t really follow, so it seems fair enough that he won despite Indycar’s best attempts to fake a last lap pass, or if one is feeling a bit more generous, for the sake of a green finish (which they didn’t get in the end anyway).

    Anyway, great to see what Brown is doing with the McLaren name. Having a strong presence in both Indycar and F1 is no small feat.

  7. More salt in the wound for Leclerc, his ex-teammate that he dominated over his rookie season takes glory at the indie 500

    1. greasemonkey
      30th May 2022, 14:57

      Nobody is static at anything. I play guitar better now than yesterday. I probably run slower today than yesterday.

      Also, tennis does not equal racquetball. There is carry-over, and being really good at one often means you might at least be serviceable at the other.

      And LeClerc likely wins a drivers championship someday anyway.

  8. The show over sport red flag was a joke and I’m glad and had marcus lost the race because of it the results would have been as tainted and come across as been as manipulated as abu dhabi in f1 last year.

    The integrity of the sport should always be put above the show!

    1. You’re talking about an American sport though… The show will always be 100x more important than the sport.

      1. Unfortunately. And you can see that in American owned F1

  9. Chris Horton
    29th May 2022, 23:05

    Congrats Marcus!

  10. My younger brother was there in turn one and the 300k people there LOVED not seeing a race under yellow. I don’t know why it seems to be hated on by F1 “purists”?

    F1 cant even START in a rain storm lol.

    I grew up with F1, Group C and 500cc Motorcycle GP. I honestly can hardly tolerate F1 anymore.

    1. I had zero issues with the red flag. I don’t watch a lot of Indycar, but I assume this rule is used far more consitantly and reliably? And oval races producing crashes at this time isn’t uncommon.

      Rather this than an erm, hmmm, yellow, no blue, no red flag!! In F1 it’s like being in a Monty Python film and being asked “What’s your favourite colour?”

  11. Tony Kanaan is 47 not 37.

  12. what a day of racing! Really entertaining 500, not a classic but intriguing throughout, particularly as the front runners Palau and Dixon were taken out of the running.

  13. So happy for him! The Ronnie Peterson tribute helmet was great to see!

  14. Was lucky enough to watch from turn 3. Awesome race. Didn’t think he would make it on fuel but the race definitely came to him.

  15. As a Longtime Dixon fan, this one stings. He’s nearly matched Mario Andretti for career wins and it’s starting to feel like he’ll stay tied for Indy wins. Congrats to Ericsson on the well deserved win. For a moment it looked like he was going to lose the race the same way he won his first, on late red flag. On the subject of the red flag I’m of two minds. On the one hand it’s an extremely artificial way to get a green lag finish but on the other hand it’s use in the past has led to some epic finishes like the Hunter-Reay/Castroneves duel in 2014.

  16. There’s no denying the best driver in Sauber history Kimi Ericsson. The Swinnish driver was excellent at Indy.

  17. This race was why I love the 500. There’s so many phases to the race. It’s constantly fascinating to see drivers drift in and out of contention. If you watched the first 50 laps or so it looked so comfortable for Dixon and Palou sharing the lead and then in a second it’s gone for Palou, and then Dixon, and it’s all change and it looked for a while that the McLarens might get it but slowly, quietly, here comes Ericsson. It’s a wonderful race and a well deserved winner.

  18. Excellent drive by Marcus! He deserved the win. Very exciting finish.

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