Marcus Ericsson got to drink the milk.
Sweden can now mark two wins on their Indy 500 list as Ericsson was victorious after an intense race on Sunday afternoon. The last two laps were adrenaline-filled for the Swede, as he battled alongside Pato O’Ward , following a red flag thrown with only five laps to go.
The 106th running of the greatest spectacle in racing started with dramatics right off the bat.
Just about twenty-five minutes into the race, 21-year-old Rinus VeeKay crashed out. The Dutch favorite’s gearbox exploded after a big gap between himself and Alex Palou, as he got loose down in the middle of turn two.
“I think I had a good shot at a good finish, maybe a win, but it caught me off guard,” VeeKay said in an exclusive NBC Sports interview.
The warmer and windier the weather, the more intense the race became. In fact, by the end of the race the track reached a scorching 119 degrees.
Similar to VeeKay, England’s Callum Ilott crashed out of the Indy 500 during lap 70 of 200. It was a massive hit for the rookie driver. What started as a great race for Palou, ended up becoming quite painful for the Spanish driver due to the untimely caution.
By lap 80, Scott Dixon, Conor Daly and O’Ward were confidently leading the herd.
With 106 laps in, crushing disappointment followed Romain Grosjean as he posed the third crash-out of the day. The Swiss-French driver’s car shed layers as he also misjudged turn two, which stumped many of the drivers Sunday.
By the halfway point of the race, O’Ward, Dixon, Daly, and Santino Ferrucci were in contention for the lead, with Tony Kanaan and Felix Rosenqvist not far behind.
New Zealand driver Scott McLaughlin’s race came to an end after lap 152, as a wicked wiggle at the apex of turn four brought the “Yellow Submarine” to its demise. The combination of a brutal angle and huge entry speed unfortunately ended McLaughlin’s time at the Indy 500.
There has never been a Mexican driver win the Indianapolis 500, so O’Ward’s performance was nail-biting, as he fled ahead of Dixon and Rosenqvist after 164 laps.
Bad luck struck again for Dixon as he received a pit road speeding penalty at lap 176, pushing him out of contention in perhaps the most unfortunate moment of his storied career.
Rosenqvist, O’Ward, Ericsson, Alexander Rossi and Daly appeared to be the most promising finishers with only 20 laps to go. Ericsson closed on Rosenqvist to take the lead in the Indy 500 with only 16 laps to go.
With 10 laps to go, Ericsson held first with a steep lead, O’Ward second, Kanaan third and Rosenqvist fourth. Jimmie Johnson, Ericsson’s teammate, experienced a big head-on impact with only six laps to go – resulting in a red flag. With a three second lead and five laps to go, there was quite literally nothing less Ericsson wanted to see.
The final restart commenced with the waving of the green flag, and Ericsson, O’Ward, Kanaan and Rosenqvist still in the running for first. With two laps to go, Ericsson and O’Ward went head-to-head, but Ericsson took the lead in the end.
The victory marked the third of the 31-year-old Ericsson’s IndyCar career, but his first on an oval track.