Defending Indy 500 champion returns to Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Speedway, Ind. (WISH) – Marcus Ericsson took part in an open test on Thursday at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval.
It was the first day of a two-day test to help NTT IndyCar Series teams and drivers prepare for the May 28 Indianapolis 500.
This year’s Indy 500 will be a new experience for Ericsson, as he’ll enter the event as the defending champion.
“No, no pressure,” Ericsson said. “I think it’s just a privilege to come back here as the defending champion. So, I’m just trying to soak it in, enjoy it, and of course try and go back-to-back. That’s what we’re here for.”
The Chip Ganassi Racing driver knows that winning this year’s race will not be easy. A prime example of that was on display Thursday morning when nine former Indy 500 winners, all of whom are competing in this year’s race, took part in a photoshoot with the Borg-Warner Trophy.
“The coolest club in motorsports,” Ericsson said. “So, to stand there with all the past winners and with the Borg-Warner is really special.”
One of the guys hoping to join the Indy 500 winner’s club is Pato O’Ward. The Arrow McLaren driver came close to beating Ericsson last year, but came up short, finishing in second place.
“I love being back here,” O’Ward said. “It’s just a special place.”
O’Ward has improved over the course of his Indy 500 career. He finished in sixth place during his first start in 2020. In 2021, he finished in fourth place, while he was the runner-up last year.
O’Ward has already had an impressive IndyCar career despite this only being his fourth full season in the series. But he knows winning Indy would change everything. It did for Ericsson.
“Since that win, I feel like I’ve been driving with a different kind of mentality,” said Ericsson. “And I know I can do it. It’s helped me. I worked really hard this winter, came out really strong this year, so, we need to keep that going.”
Ericsson has started strong this season. He currently leads the championship standings.
The two-day test continues Friday at IMS.
The next IndyCar Series race takes place on April 30 at Barber Motorsports Park.