Thursday, September 21, 2023

2022 IndyCar Driver Reviews: Marcus Ericsson

Marcus Ericsson wins the 2022 Indianapolis 500.
Marcus Ericsson wins the 2022 Indianapolis 500. Photo courtesy of John Cote/Penske Entertainment.

Continuing our driver review series of the top 20 drivers of the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series championship, we are continuing our single-driver reviews until reaching Will Power, the 2022 IndyCar Series champion.

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Here, we will focus on Marcus Ericsson, the sixth placed driver in the championship points.

After finishing sixth in the 2021 IndyCar Series points standings, Marcus Ericsson and his Chip Ganassi Racing crew made a massive effort at figuring out where they lost out on points in 2021 to try and fix that for 2022.

Ovals became the focus for 2022, and that paid off with the biggest win of Ericsson’s career in the 106th Indianapolis 500.

Indy’s double points stature gave Ericsson a boost in his championship hopes, as did the rest of the ovals. The Swedish racer never finished lower than eighth on an oval, that finish coming at the first race of the doubleheader weekend at Iowa Speedway.

Ericsson gained the championship lead after winning the 500. He lost it after doing the best he could at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course race in late July.

The No. 8 Honda suffered a very significant mechanical failure, halting Ericsson in the first round of qualifying. Starting last in the 25-car field, 11th place was not a bad finish considering that there was only one yellow flag and only two cars fell out of the race.

The new points leader? Third place finisher Will Power.

Looking at the bigger picture, that race at the IMS road course was a microcosm of how the last third of the season went for Ericsson. In the final seven races of the 17-race schedule, Ericsson never finished in the top five and had three results of 11th or worse.

In that same seven race span, Power had five podiums (no wins), a sixth at WWT Raceway and an 11th at Nashville. It’s hard to beat that kind of consistency in IndyCar.

Ericsson had two retirements during the season. At Nashville, the 2021 winner had a gearbox failure after late contact rendered it inoperable. At Long Beach, Ericsson ran comfortably in the top-five before hitting the wall with the left rear of the car, costing him a lot of points and possibly a position or two in the championship standings.

However, there are still many positives to look at regarding Ericsson’s season. Winning the Indianapolis 500 is a life-changing moment in a racer’s life, and that race showed the racing world what the IndyCar paddock has come to know over the last few seasons.

Ericsson knew how to wheel a race car well. Given Formula One’s dependence on having a good car and IndyCar being a nearly-spec series, Ericsson seized his opportunity on racing’s biggest stage and it paid off.

His talents weren’t in question. His ability to show his talents were. With the ability to show his skills, Ericsson flourished. Expect more of the same in 2023.

And maybe some Huski Chocolate shipments arriving at stores if some business deals can work out.

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