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Ericsson triumphs in St Petersburg IndyCar opener marred by collisions and incidents



Ericsson triumphs in St Petersburg IndyCar opener marred by collisions and incidents 2023

Marcus Ericsson emerged victorious in a thrilling St Petersburg IndyCar opener filled with incidents and accidents that caused many drivers to retire.

The race took a dramatic turn during the final pitstop when leaders Romain Grosjean and Scott McLaughlin collided, propelling Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward into the lead.

Marcus Ericsson emerged victorious in the St Petersburg IndyCar opener, as a result of a collision between the leaders Romain Grosjean and Scott McLaughlin, and a plenum fire that affected Pato O’Ward. The race was characterized by several incidents that caused many drivers to drop out.

The race became particularly intense during the final pitstop, when Grosjean, who had been leading for a long time on behalf of Andretti Autosport, and McLaughlin from Team Penske, collided at Turn 4. Prior to this, the race had already witnessed two instances of cars becoming airborne due to accidents.

Grosjean had switched to fresh and therefore warmer tires during his previous pitstop, and McLaughlin came out of the pits and immediately took a defensive line at Turn 3. Grosjean attempted a daring move on the outside of Turn 4, but we’ll never know whether it would have succeeded because McLaughlin lost control of his car under braking and collided with Grosjean, causing both drivers to crash into the tire wall.

Grosjean experienced another disappointment after earning his second IndyCar pole position, as he continues to wait for his first victory in any competition since 2011.

Following the collision that cost him the chance to defend his win from the previous year on the same track, McLaughlin expressed remorse on the team radio, saying, “You guys deserve better.” He later apologized multiple times after the race.


The collision caused a dramatic turn of events, propelling Arrow McLaren’s O’Ward into the lead with three Ganassi cars closely trailing behind him, reminiscent of a group of piranhas.

Ericsson was the first Ganassi car to catch up to O’Ward, and although he faced some pressure from his teammate Scott Dixon during the restart, he quickly closed the 2.2-second gap to O’Ward and relentlessly pursued him during the final 10 laps.

During the race, Ericsson’s team informed him that O’Ward was encountering issues with getting the power down. As the race progressed, with just four laps remaining, O’Ward briefly slowed down while coming off the final hairpin due to a plenum fire that caused his engine to stall, thereby relinquishing the lead to Ericsson.

In his post-race interview, O’Ward was barely able to speak due to his disappointment at losing the lead so close to the end of the race.

Ericsson, who has shown exceptional skills in street course racing in IndyCar, secured his fourth IndyCar victory with a particularly strong qualifying performance. This win was the result of the intensive work that Ganassi had invested in improving their performance in qualifying during the off-season.

For the remainder of the race, O’Ward was occupied with fending off Dixon, who managed to close in on him. However, O’Ward ultimately succeeded in holding Dixon off to finish second.

Dixon’s ascent to the front was aided by one of the many accidents that occurred during the race, which happened just before the midway point when Rinus VeeKay collided with the tires at Turn 3, taking Jack Harvey by surprise. As Harvey’s Rahal Letterman Lanigan car hit the crashed machine of VeeKay from Carpenter Racing, Kyle Kirkwood was also caught up in the incident and literally flew over both cars. Harvey was sent to the hospital for precautionary checks following the incident.


The extended caution period allowed Dixon to run fewer laps on the soft tire compared to his top 10 rivals, who started on the harder compound. However, during his final pit stop, Dixon’s strategy was hindered by the caution coming out just as he was about to take the lead from McLaughlin, who was leaving the pits.

Alexander Rossi, who adopted the same strategy as Dixon, also benefitted from the caution and drove a strong race in his debut for Arrow McLaren, finishing in fourth place.

Callum Ilott finished in fifth place, which was his best career finish, having started in 22nd place. He adopted the same strategy as Dixon and Rossi and drove for one of the smaller teams in IndyCar, Juncos Hollinger Racing.

Numerous drivers were able to achieve respectable finishes by driving sensibly during a race filled with attrition, and Graham Rahal was one of those drivers. Although he faced difficulties in qualifying after changing his brakes, he managed to avoid getting into trouble during the race and drove well, eventually finishing in a respectable position despite starting from 20th place.

Will Power was sent to the back of the field after causing Colton Herta to crash at Turn 8. Herta had been in second place earlier in the race, but fell behind due to tire wear as other drivers made strategic moves.

Despite starting from the back, Power managed to make an impressive comeback and finished in seventh place, ahead of the 2021 champion Alex Palou, Christian Lundgaard, and David Malukas.

Marcus Armstrong and Agustin Canapino, both rookies, finished in 11th and 12th place, respectively. Armstrong’s chances were hampered by a puncture he suffered after colliding with Malukas earlier in the race.


Canapino had a remarkable debut in IndyCar, demonstrating impressive pace throughout the race despite being a newcomer to the series, having previously competed in tin-top racing in Argentina.

Canapino managed to achieve his main goal for the weekend, which was to finish the race. This was an impressive feat considering that many more experienced drivers were unable to do so on Sunday.

Canapino, who had learned English in just three months, finished as the last driver on the lead lap, with a total of 27 cars starting the race.

The race was quickly interrupted by two separate incidents at Turn 3. Felix Rosenqvist was bumped into the outside wall, forcing him to retire from the race while he was in eighth place.

At the same time, a five-car collision occurred, which began when Simon Pagenaud was spun into the wall, causing a domino effect. The stationary Devlin DeFrancesco was hit and thrown into the air by Benjamin Pedersen, who collided with him after being unable to avoid the cars already caught up in the collision. Fortunately, no one was injured, but the race had to be temporarily halted due to the incident.

The final positions and gaps for the St Petersburg IndyCar opener.

1Marcus EricssonChip Ganassi Racing
2Pato O’WardArrow McLaren2.4113
3Scott DixonChip Ganassi Racing2.9257
4Alexander RossiArrow McLaren6.7689
5Callum IlottJuncos Hollinger Racing8.2650
6Graham RahalRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing10.7671
7Will PowerTeam Penske11.6798
8Alex PalouChip Ganassi Racing14.7244
9Christian LundgaardRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing14.9528
10David MalukasDale Coyne Racing15.4401
11Marcus ArmstrongChip Ganassi Racing15.8049
12Agustin CanapinoJuncos Hollinger Racing28.1332
13Scott McLaughlinTeam Penske1 lap
14Conor DalyEd Carpenter Racing1 lap
15Sting Ray RobbDale Coyne Racing3 laps
16Kyle KirkwoodAndretti Autosport4 laps
17Josef NewgardenTeam Penske5 laps
18Romain GrosjeanAndretti Autosport29 laps
19Felix RosenqvistArrow McLaren49 laps
20Colton HertaAndretti Autosport51 laps
21Rinus VeeKayEd Carpenter Racing59 laps
22Jack HarveyRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing59 laps
23Helio CastronevesMeyer Shank Racing100 laps
24Santino FerrucciA.J. Foyt Enterprises100 laps
25Devlin DeFrancescoAndretti Autosport100 laps
26Simon PagenaudMeyer Shank Racing100 laps
27Benjamin PedersenA.J. Foyt Enterprises100 laps

Ericsson triumphs in St Petersburg IndyCar opener marred by collisions and incidents Ericsson triumphs in St Petersburg IndyCar opener marred by collisions and incidents Ericsson triumphs in St Petersburg IndyCar opener marred by collisions and incidents Ericsson triumphs in St Petersburg IndyCar opener marred by collisions and incidents Ericsson triumphs in St Petersburg IndyCar opener marred by collisions and incidents

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