Marcus Ericsson took the effective lead with 18 laps left, survived a restart with two laps left and kept the lead the rest of the way on the way to his first Indianapolis 500 victory on Sunday afternoon.
The Swedish Chip Ganassi Racing driver beat Mexico’s Pato O’Ward from Arrow McLaren to the finish line by 1.7 seconds.
The victory at the 2.5-mile-long Indianapolis Motor Speedway was his third in the IndyCar series.
Third was Tony Kanaan in his Ganassi Honda.
A second Swede, Felix Rosenqvist in the McLaren team, finished fourth.
Fifth was Alexander Rossi from Andretti Autosport.
Ericsson had a seemingly comfortable lead when the laps were closed, but with six laps left, Indy rookie Jimmie Johnson crashed hard in turn 2. Officials chose to wave the red flag to complete the race under green.
In the restart with two laps left, Ericsson was first and O’Ward second. The two were only a couple of feet apart when they went into turn 1 after the last green waved. O’Ward took one shot for the lead shortly afterwards but could not get past Ericsson. From there, O’Ward faded, his chance to win away but second place was his best at Indy.
Ericsson is the second Swede to win the Indy 500. Kenny Brack won in 1999.
Scott Dixon’s hopes of winning his second 500 were shattered when he was noticed for speeding on the pit road at his last stop of the day. To that point, he spent most of the race at the front of the field.
He led when he went to the depot with 25 laps left.
After serving his drive-through penalty, he dropped out of the top 20. He finished 21st.
Helio Castroneve’s bid to become the first five-time winner of the 500 failed when the Meyer-Shank Racing veteran finished seventh.
The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Johnson was considered a favorite before the race when he qualified as 12th. But once the race turned green, he slid backwards in his Chip Ganassi Racing Honda and was ready for his late crash.
Ganassi drivers Dixon and Alex Palou spent the first 70 laps changing the lead according to team orders in an attempt to save fuel. That strategy was revealed on lap 70 when Palou entered the depot and a crash led to a yellow flag.
Palou, who led 42 laps, could not abandon his depot stop before the flag waved. He continued through pits but was then forced to go to his booth a lap later because he had run out of fuel. When the race started again, Palou, last year’s champion in the IndyCar Series, was 30th. However, he worked his way forward and finished ninth.
Rinus VeeKay from the Netherlands became the first big challenger to jump out of the race on lap 39. VeeKay, who had run second in several laps, lost control near turn 2 and hit the wall, where it broke into flames. It slipped into the grass and VeeKay came out unscathed. The Ed Carpenter Racing driver had started the race outside the front row.
A second, almost identical wreck in Turn 2 with rookie Callum Ilott occurred on lap 70. He was also unharmed. Ilott had started 28th.
On lap 106, turn 2 hit again when Romain Grosjean from Andretti Autosport crashed.
On lap 145, lap 3 took out a challenger when Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin hit the wall. He had started 26th but worked his way forward. His only injury, he said, was “a blown ego”.
Turn 2 would take Johnson out with six laps left.
–Field Level Media