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Ericsson beats O’Ward in crash-filled opener

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Ericsson’s late transfer on O’Ward to safe victory arrived after polesitter Romain Grosjean and Scott McLaughlin collided whereas dueling for the lead the despatched the duo right into a tyre wall.

This allowed Arrow McLaren’s O’Ward to hit the entrance, however a small engine concern for the chief allowed Ericsson to slide previous and dash away within the closing lap.

A disconsolate O’Ward held off Scott Dixon to the chequered flag, whereas Alexander Rossi got here dwelling fourth in his first race for Arrow McLaren, and Callum Ilott took a superb fifth for Juncos Hollinger Racing.

The race was red-flagged on the opening lap, after a collision triggered by Santino Ferrucci of AJ Foyt Racing, who nerfed Helio Castroneves right into a spin. The second Meyer Shank automobile of Simon Pagenaud and Dale Coyne Racing’s rookie Sting Ray Robb was additionally concerned.

Devlin De Francesco skidded his Andretti Autosport automobile to a halt in a useless try and keep away from the carnage however was hammered by rookie Benjamin Pedersen, whose Foyt machine despatched De Francesco into the air and spun the stricken automobile by means of 180 levels earlier than it landed once more.

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Nearer the entrance, Arrow McLaren’s Felix Rosenqvist had bounced off Scott Dixon’s automobile left-rear wheel as Dixon thought his Ganassi machine was away from the Swede. The impression despatched Rosenqvist into the skin wall at Flip 3 and was left limping to the pits with left-rear injury.

Polesitter Grosjean and Colton Herta had stored their Andretti Autosport entries forward of O’Ward and Ericsson, however Palou had moved as much as demote Kyle Kirkwood (Andretti) and McLaughlin – the best starter on the Firestone major tyre.

Scott McLaughlin, Group Penske Chevrolet

Picture by: Gavin Baker / Motorsport Images

For the restart, McLaughlin would line-up forward of fellow major runners Dixon and Penske team-mate Will Power.

Forward of the restart, Josef Newgarden, Rinus VeeKay and Conor Daly pitted, Newgarden took on a brand new set of major tyres after selecting up a right-rear puncture.

The restart was clear till the run from Flip 3 to Flip 4, when David Malukas’s Coyne w/HMD automobile made contact with rookie Marcus Armstrong’s Ganassi machine, puncturing its right-rear tyre, and sending the New Zealander limping to the pits. Lundgaard made an error that noticed him lose 10th to Malukas however the DCR driver quickly pitted as Race Management ordered him to serve a drive-through penalty.

Up entrance, Grosjean held a one-second lead over Herta, however by lap 12 they’d over four-second margin over O’Ward. Behind O’Ward, the drivers ran in line, somewhat beneath one second aside, clearly all planning to make solely two pitstops. McLaughlin, Dixon, Energy and Arrow McLaren’s latest recruit Alexander Rossi stuffed seventh by means of to tenth.

By lap 23, Grosjean had dropped Herta by 5.5s, and Herta was dropping into the clutches of O’Ward and Ericsson. Into Flip 10 on lap 25, the Arrow McLaren driver claimed second. Concurrently, one other Andretti driver, Kirkwood, misplaced sixth and seventh place to McLaughlin and Dixon, and on lap 26, Energy, Rossi and Jack Harvey (Rahal Letterman Lanigan) additionally demoted the 2021 Indy Lights champion.

Herta then pitted on lap 27, and Kirkwood on lap 28. Then it was Palou’s flip to really feel his alternates go off, and he misplaced locations to McLaughlin and Dixon on consecutive laps, earlier than pitting on Lap 30, together with team-mate Ericsson. The latter’s cease was wonderful, and jumped the Indy 500 winner out forward of Herta.

O’Ward closed the hole to Grosjean to 5 seconds earlier than stopping on Lap 31, whereas Grosjean went a lap longer however with drained rubber he misplaced time.

That left McLaughlin, Dixon and Energy within the prime three positions for one lap on their major rubber, however the two Penske drivers pitted on lap 35. McLaughlin emerged from the pits forward of Grosjean and the pair went facet by facet all the way down to Flip 4. However McLaughlin was on the within and even on chilly tyres may brake simply deep sufficient to guard his place from the polesitter.

That gave him the online lead – though it practically didn’t! The yellows flew simply as Dixon pitted, as a consequence of Daly spinning and stalling after being tagged by Kirkwood, however on checking the mix line, Race Management ordered Dixon to drop to fifth.

On the restart McLaughlin led Grosjean, O’Ward, Ericsson, Dixon, Energy, Herta, Rossi, Palou and Graham Rahal, with the three Antipodeans and Rossi now on alternate tyres.

That softer rubber was nursed by means of the warning that adopted, when VeeKay slid into the tyres at Flip 4 whereas being handed by Newgarden. It left Harvey with nowhere to go, after which Kirkwood struck the RLL automobile within the rear and launched over it.

For the second time in 45 laps, an Andretti automobile was despatched into the air. Kirkwood was, remarkably, in a position to hobble again to the pits, however Harvey took some time to emerge from the cockpit of his automobile, and VeeKay was additionally out on the spot.

Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Picture by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

Dixon took benefit of his softer rubber to dive down the within of Ericsson on the lap 50 restart. However when Energy additionally tried to make a transfer on the Swede, he discovered the door closed and bumped vast. That allowed Herta to attract alongside the #12 Penske on the skin, however the pair made contact and Herta went into the tyres at Flip 8. Energy was adjudged to be at fault and must serve a drive-through penalty.

Fortunately the subsequent restart was clear and stayed clear, and Grosjean did an excellent job on major tyree to hold on to McLaughlin on alternates over the subsequent laps. The pair dropped O’Ward. The McLaren driver was additionally having to maintain his eye on his mirrors for Dixon and Ericsson who have been each edging away from Rossi, Palou, Newgarden and Callum Ilott of Juncos Hollinger Racing.

Palou made his remaining cease on lap 65, and Dixon did the identical subsequent time by, with Rossi, O’Ward and Newgarden all ducking into the pits shortly after. 

Within the lead battle, it was Andretti Autosport who blinked first, bringing Grosjean in for contemporary Firestone major tyres, whereas McLaughlin stayed out a lap longer and received held up by a backmarker.

As he emerged from the pits subsequent time by, the pair have been battling for the lead with McLaughlin on the within, Grosjean on the skin. This time Grosjean was a tad additional forward on the new tyres and whereas he left room for McLaughlin, the defending St. Pete winner squirrelled beneath braking earlier than contact despatched the Andretti automobile into the tyre wall. The impression additionally straightened the Penske and despatched it into the tyre wall too. Grosjean was out on the spot, whereas McLaughlin was bumpstarted and went to the pits.

This left O’Ward up entrance forward of Dixon, Palou, Newgarden, Rossi, Ilott, Rahal, Lundgaard, highest rookie Agustin Canapino of Juncos Hollinger, Energy, and Malukas.

O’Ward staved off Ericsson on the restart, and the Swede had his mirrors filled with Dixon. Rossi, Ilott, Palou and Rahal pounced on Newgarden after he ran vast on the remaining flip, and the next lap Energy additionally demoted his team-mate after passing Canapino and Lundgaard on the restart lap. 

Newgarden’s messy weekend received worse when, with 5 laps to go, he had hearth rising from his left-rear nook, however all eyes have been on the entrance.

Nevertheless, on the entrance O’Ward received sideways off the ultimate flip, a difficulty along with his Chevrolet engine quickly precipitated the Arrow McLaren to cough, and that was all Ericsson wanted to assert the lead which he held to the end. 

A desperately pissed off O’Ward held off Dixon by half a second, with Rossi, the overachieving Ilott finishing the highest 5. Rahal and Energy demoted Palou on the ultimate lap to assert sixth and seventh.

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