Marcus Ericsson won his first career Indianapolis 500 on Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. File Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI | License Photo
May 29 (UPI) — Sweden’s Marcus Ericsson used his No. 8 red Honda to beat Pato O’Ward to the checkered flag in a two-lap shootout and claimed first victory in the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The 30-year-old Ericsson led for the final 11 laps and was aggressive in his defense of O’Ward down the stretch in Indianapolis. The race was under a red flag with five laps to go due to a crash that involved Jimmie Johnson.
“You can never take anything for granted and there were still laps to go,” Ericsson told NBC Sports. “I was praying so hard there would not be another yellow flag.
“I had to do everything in the end to keep them behind. I can’t believe it. I’m so happy.”
The race restarted with two laps remaining. Ericsson got a great jump on the field and held off O’Ward by 1.79 seconds. The race ended under a yellow flag due to a last-lap crash, which involved Sage Karam.
Tony Kanan, Felix Rosenqvist and Alexander Rossi joined Ericsson and O’Ward in the Top 5. Conor Daly, defending champion Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud, Alex Palaou and Santino Ferrucci finished inside the Top 10.
Pole winner and race favorite Scott Dixon led most of the race, but was given a late violation for speeding on pit lane and finished 21st. He lost the lead on lap No. 177 of the 200-lap race.
“He was going to put me in the wall if I would have gone for it,” O’Ward said of trying to pass Ericsson downt he stretch. “I’m so proud of my team and so proud of myself. ”
Ericsson is expected to receive about $2 million for his first-place finish. He now leads the IndyCar season standings, ahead of O’Ward and Palou.
The IndyCar season will continue June 5 with the Detroit Grand Prix.