Ericsson enjoys wild 'launch and win' in Nashville


IndyCar legend Danny Sullivan enjoyed a famous "spin and win" at the 1985 Indy 500, but 36 years later, Marcus Ericsson went one better in Sunday's Music City Grand Prix in Nashville, with his very own "launch and win".

The Chip Ganassi driver's car miraculously survived an airborne crash with Sebastien Bourdais on a re-start in the early stages of the incident-packed race, a contact that should have put the Swede out on the spot.

Instead, Ericsson picked himself up leaving a livid Bourdais behind, hobbled back to the pits for a new nose, chased from behind and 75 laps later drove his car into the winners' circle for the second time this season, having won in Belle Isle in June.

Sunday's inaugural IndyCar round in Nashville featured no less than of nine full-course caution periods, worth a total of 33 laps, and two red flags which pushed proceedings into the early evening in the Music City.


But IndyCar fans were nevertheless offered a solid 20 laps of good racing in the latter part of the event between Ericsson and poleman Colton Herta.

With the Swede nursing a potential fuel shortfall, Herta pulled out the stops and closed the gap to his rival. A first attack attempt brought the Andretti Autosport charger dangerously close to the wall and gave Ericsson some breathing space.

But Herta reeled in his opponent once again only to brake late at Nashville's Turn 9 and veer into the tyre barrier, his race undone while Ericsson sailed to the checkered flag, with Chip Ganassi teammate Scott Dixon and Andretti's James Hincliffe completing the top-three.

When all was said and done, a bewildered Ericsson still couldn't wrap his head around his win.

"I’m just trying to figure out how I ended up winning the race after being up, flying and seeing the sky on Lap 5 and thinking my race was over," joked the flying Swede. "I can’t believe it! I got good air-time.

"I feel sorry for Seb. I just got caught out there [on the first restart], when I thought they were going. I thought my race was over then. But then I got repair to the car, I got a stop and go [penalty] and we were dead last. It was all about trying to recover.

"On the car we had some damage as well from that flight, but I thought I’d try and recover as many positions as possible and have a solid top 15…

"Then the team did a great job with the strategy, pitstops were great, and there were so many incidents… But we did everything right when we needed to."


Ericsson admitted that preserving his edge of Herta while managing his fuel was quite the challenge.

"In the end, when Colton was behind me, I had to do a really big fuel number to get us to the finish line and still keep him behind," he said.

"That was one of the toughest challenges of my career and I’m very proud that I could keep him behind and keep the pace up. And that won me the race.

"He was pushing really hard as we could see, and he’s been the fastest guy all weekend.

“But then with the race as it was with all the incidents, there was going to be another red flag – it was not going to be an easy finish. Obviously I was very happy to finish it off and have another win.

"In IndyCar anything can happen," he concluded. "It’s been like that over the years, and today once again it shows that you can never give up, keep pushing all the time, keep believing. If you have a strong team like I had, anything is possible."

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