DETROIT — In a dramatic finish on a hot day in the streets of Belle Isle in Detroit, Marcus Ericsson won his first career IndyCar race in the first of two races in a doubleheader weekend.
“It’s been such a long time for me,” Ericsson said. “I was a kid when I won last time. I had my best result here two years ago. I really like this track!”
Ericsson inherited the lead with five laps to go after a red flag was brought out by a Romain Grosjean wreck. Will Power had been leading up to that point. With five laps to go the race could have ended under caution, but IndyCar opted to throw the red flag again stopping the race. This ensured that the race would have an opportunity to finish under a green flag.
Power’s crew could not get the engine refired on pit road, he was forced to surrender the lead. Power was furious with IndyCar for throwing the red flag in the closing laps.
“I’m mad at IndyCar,” Power said afterward. “Just throwing the red flag for starters. The guys in race control never listen to any drivers. They don’t care. I worked my ass off today to have this happen.”
“I feel sorry for Will,” Ericsson said to the IndyCar Radio Network. “He deserved to be up there. I wanted to fight it out. But I’ll take it.”
Ericsson was able to keep his distance from second-place finisher Rinus Veekay and Pato O’Ward, who finished third after starting on pole.
Though Ericsson got the win, it was the first red flag period of the day that overshadowed the event. Felix Rosenqvist’s throttle got stuck and with no way to slow down, he slammed into the tire barrier in turn six.
He had to be taken to the hospital where his prognosis is good. But, the incident brought out a red flag period that lasted 1 hour and 18 minutes in order to clear the wreck and rebuild the tire barrier and wall behind it.
Once the stoppage was finally over Will Power assumed the lead after the red flag forced many teams to alter their pit strategy.
The second red flag in which Power was forced to give up the lead, led to a tense restart in which dozens of passes were made back in the field. Santino Ferrucci took the most advantage of the chaos jumping from outside the top ten to a sixth-place finish.
Scott Dixon did not benefit from the first red flag and was shuffled back in the field, but charged ahead in the closing laps to an eighth-place result.
Takuma Sato and Graham Rahal recording fourth and fifth place results after starting back in the pack.
“Glad we were able to fight our way through,” Rahal said after jumping 15 spots from his starting spot to finish fifth. “Points-wise, you know, some guys made up some, some guys lost some, but that’s racing.”
Alex Palou, who finished 15th, maintains his lead in the overall series championship standings, but O’Ward’s third-place finish propelled him into second 15-points back. Scott Dixon drops to third.
With Ericsson’s win, there have now been seven different winners in the NTT IndyCar Series this season. Drivers have no time to waste as they get ready for qualifying and the second race of the doubleheader weekend tomorrow.