Ericsson took control of the race late, largely because of teammate Scott Dixon‘s speeding penalty, and had the win in reach for Chip Ganassi Racing until a crash by teammate Jimmie Johnson with four laps remaining brought out a rare red-flag stoppage at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The race resumed with two laps remaining and Ericsson easily got the jump on Pato O’Ward.
It was his third career IndyCar victory in 52 career starts Ericsson. All three have been strange wins in that Ericsson sealed the victories after red-flag stoppages, but he never assumed he had the Indy 500 won as he sat inside his cockpit waiting to get back to racing.
It’s the biggest victory of the 31-year-old’s career. Ericsson was winless in five seasons in F1 before he packed up for the United States and moved to North American open-wheel racing. He joined the Ganassi organization in his second IndyCar season and has been steadily adapting to the formula and understanding ovals; Ericsson finished a career-best third on the Texas Motor Speedway oval that was the warmup for the Indy 500.
It is the fifth Indy 500 win for team owner Chip Ganassi, who caught a ride to the victory podium on the side of Ericsson’s car. Ericsson is the second Swede to win the Indy 500 in 106 runnings, joining Kenny Brack in 1999.
The win seemed to belong to Dixon, the six-time IndyCar champion who went more than 233mph in qualifying to win the pole. He led 95 of the 200 laps and his Honda was easily the fastest in the field.
“It’s frustrating. The car was really good all day. I just messed up,” Dixon said.
That left Ericsson and Kanaan still in the fight for Ganassi. Kanaan, at 47 the oldest driver in the field, though he was in perfect position for the win sitting in fourth on the restart.
O’Ward wouldn’t relent, having signed a contract extension with Arrow McLaren SP on Saturday and desperately wanted the win. But he finished second, falling just short as the Mexican tried to give his country a banner celebration on the biggest day in motorsports after Sergio Perez had won the Monaco Grand Prix.
Kanaan was third in a Ganassi car and followed by Felix Rosenqvist, another Swede, who was fourth for McLaren.
American drivers Alexander Rossi and Conor Daly finished fifth and sixth, Rossi for Andretti Autosport and Daly for Ed Carpenter Racing. Helio Castroneves, last year’s winner, finished seventh and one spot ahead of Meyer Shank Racing teammate Simon Pagenaud.
Reigning IndyCar champion Alex Palou finished 10th in another Ganassi entry.
Dixon faded to 21st after the penalty, and although he visited Ericsson on the victory podium, he was consoled by his wife on pit road after the race.
Johnson finished 28th in his Indy 500 debut.
“It’s one team, everybody roots for everybody else, everybody works together and everybody is an open book,” Ganassi said.
Honda drivers impressively took six of the top nine spots, along with the win.
Results of the 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500
- Marcus Ericsson (Honda) finished 1st and started 5th with 6 pitstops and 21 passes
- Pato O’Ward (Chevy) finished 2nd and started 7th with 6 pitstops and 23 passes
- Tony Kanaan (Honda) finished 3rd and started 6th with 6 pitstops and 18 passes
- Felix Rosenqvist (Chevy) finished 4th and started 8th with 6 pitstops and 11 passes
- Alexander Rossi (Honda) finished 5th and started 20th with 6 pitstops and 20 passes
- Conor Daly (Chevy) finished 6th and started 18th with 6 pitstops and 12 passes
- Helio Castroneves (Honda) finished 7th and started 27th with 6 pitstops and 22 passes
- Simon Pagenaud (Honda) finished 8th and started 16th with 6 pitstops and 11 passes
- Alex Palou (Honda) finished 9th and started 2nd with 9 pitstops and 27 passes
- Santino Ferrucci (Chevy) finished 10th and started 15th with 6 pitstops and 11 passes
- Juan Pablo Montoya (Chevy) finished 11th and started 30th with 6 pitstops and 10 passes
- JR Hildebrand (Chevy) finished 12th and started 17th with 7 pitstops and 14 passes
- Josef Newgarden (Chevy) finished 13th and started 14th with 7 pitstops and 16 passes
- Graham Rahal (Honda) finished 14th and started 21st with 6 pitstops and 8 passes
- Will Power (Chevy) finished 15th and started 11th with 7 pitstops and 9 passes
- David Malukas (Honda) finished 16th and started 13th with 6 pitstops and 14 passes
- Kyle Kirkwood (Chevy) finished 17th and started 28th with 7 pitstops and 16 passes
- Ed Carpenter (Chevy) finished 18th and started 4th with 6 pitstops and 11 passes
- Devlin DeFrancesco (Honda) finished 19th and started 24th with 6 pitstops and 3 passes
- C. Lundgaard (Honda) finished 20th and started 31st with 7 pitstops and 12 passes
- Scott Dixon (Honda) finished 21st and started 1st with 7 pitstops and 17 passes
- Marco Andretti (Honda) finished 22nd and started 23rd with 8 pitstops and 16 passes
- Sage Karam (Chevy) finished 23rd and started 22nd with 6 pitstops and 17 passes
- Jack Harvey (Honda) finished 24th and started 32nd with 9 pitstops and 9 passes
- Takuma Sato (Honda) finished 25th and started 10th with 7 pitstops and 14 passes
- Dalton Kellett (Chevy) finished 26th and started 29th with 8 pitstops and 11 passes
- Stefan Wilson (Chevy) finished 27th and started 33rd with 8 pitstops and 12 passes
- Jimmie Johnson (Honda) finished 28th and started 12th with 7 pitstops and 9 passes
- Scott McLaughlin (Chevy) finished 29th and started 26th with 4 pitstops and 14 passes
- Colton Herta (Honda) finished 30th and started 25th with 7 pitstops and 5 passes
- Romain Grosjean (Honda) finished 31st and started 9th with 2 pitstops and 4 passes
- Callum Ilott (Chevy) finished 32nd and started 19th with 1 pitstop and 3 passes
- Rinus VeeKay (Chevy) finished 33rd and started 3rd with 1 pitstop and 3 passes