Marcus Ericsson Soars to the Top in Inaugural Music City GP

A Sunday drive Marcus Ericsson won’t ever forget (Photo: Luis Torres/The Podium Finish).

All set for takeoff for “Air” Marcus Ericsson, who overcame a Lap 4 crash to win the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix. It’s the Swede’s second consecutive victory, further establishing himself as a true dark horse contender for the Astor Cup.

Early in the caution-plagued 80-lap contest, Marcus Ericsson ran into the back of Sebastien Bourdais, lifting his No. 8 Bryant Honda up in the air. In spite of some suspension and front wing damage, his Chip Ganassi Racing crew never gave up. Ericsson certainly got better as the race winded down.

The only threat he faced was pole sitter Colton Herta, who dominated nearly the entire weekend. With 12 laps to go, Ericsson caught a break when Herta nearly wrecked his car in Turn 9.

Ericsson and Herta were the class of the field in Nashville (Photo: Luis Torres/The Podium Finish).

Herta eventually ran out of luck and smashed the wall in the same corner with six to go.

It brought out another late-race red flag, setting up a two-lap dash to the finish.

In the end, Ericsson held off teammate Scott Dixon to forever etch his name as the first-ever winner at the 2.17-mile street course.

Podium Reflections:

Marcus Ericsson

“I’m trying to figure out how I won the race after being up in the sky, thinking my race was over. Yeah, I can’t believe it (laughter),” said the two-time series winner.

Marcus Ericsson would apologize to Bourdais after their early tangle, knowing it was a racing incident. From that point, he knew what had to be done. Even after serving a stop-and-go penalty and dealt with delayed action, Ericsson was still at a loss of words on how he ended up in victory circle.

“I was really happy to finish it off there and have another win,” said Ericsson. “So much things going on today. I’m still trying to figure out how I ended here.”

Little did Ericsson knew this incident didn’t marred his Nashville experience (Photo: Luis Torres/The Podium Finish).

From being a guy nobody really noticed, Ericsson is arguably in the championship mix. Although trailing teammate Alex Palou by 79 points, the goal is a Ganassi 1-2-3 campaign. The entire organization are clicking and they’ve done it fair and square. So much so, they’ve helped one another to become even greater competitors.

“We are very open. I think that’s why we are three cars in the top five, is because we help each other become better. That’s a great thing,” Ericsson explained.

“We’re going to keep doing that. We’re going to keep fighting each other, but keep doing it in a fair way. It’s like Chip says, if we win 1-2-3, we take points from our competitors. That’s the way we’re going to try and keep doing.”

Dixon

As always, never count out Scott Dixon. The six-time champion had another quiet, but superb outcome that still kept him in the championship mix. Like his teammate, it was a lot to soak in and credited Ericsson on setting himself in an ideal position that got him the victory.

Dixon continues his bid for a seventh INDYCAR championship (Photo: Luis Torres/The Podium Finish).

“You got to take those wins, man. (Marcus) was in the right place at the right time,” said Dixon. “I think he had probably one of the most eventful days of everybody out there, flying up in the sky, then getting a drive-through penalty and all that stuff, coming out with a win.”

Now with 11 of 16 rounds completed, Dixon will be trailing Palou by 42 points going into the Brickyard weekend.

James Hinchcliffe

The Mayor of Hinchtown is back on an IndyCar podium. More importantly, luck was on his side as he led the entire Andretti Autosport squad with his first podium since Iowa two years ago.

Hinchcliffe’s road to third nearly didn’t happen after being stuck in a literal traffic jam on Lap 19. This was thanks to an incident involving Will Power that caused everyone behind him unable to move. It warranted a red flag to get the cars out of the melee, including Hinchcliffe.

Following the race, Hinchcliffe noted the stoppage saved his afternoon. Rather than being multiple laps down, he was able to keep himself in the mix. Not ideal to be mired, but applauded the sanctioning body for making the right call in this woeful scenario.

Hinchcliffe now has 18 INDYCAR podiums in his decade-long career (Photo: Luis Torres/The Podium Finish).

“I thought they were going to drive the field through pit lane. Until we cleared up the traffic jam, we were going to be three, four laps down,” said Hinchcliffe.

“Credit to INDYCAR for not eliminating all eight of us, whatever it was, that were stuck back there. We had no damage. We avoided all the carnage. The traffic just blocked.”

Disastrous Weekend for Johnson

A grand total of nine cautions is what people will be talking for a good while. In spite of the pace car being out front for 33 of 80 laps, it still didn’t out led Ericsson (34) and Herta (39). Perhaps consider it a win, but several drivers had an up-and-down weekend.

One man who didn’t have any uplifting moments was Jimmie Johnson. The rookie competitor crashed three times, including Sunday’s warm-up. Johnson’s wounded machine was scrapped, forcing the No. 48 Carvana crew to use Palou’s backup to get him onto the 27-car grid.

Johnson’s backup became the latest “Frankenstein” machine in IndyCar (Photo: Luis Torres/The Podium Finish).

To make things worse was the first red flag where Johnson was involved in the mayhem. During the stoppage, Johnson helped his team put a new front wing but he wouldn’t see the track again. INDYCAR Race Control benched Johnson for unapproved work, finishing 26th.

Onto Indy

Nashville madness is over with many probably relieved. It’s back home to Indianapolis for the series’ second visit on the grand prix course.

As part of the NASCAR/INDYCAR doubleheader, the daring open wheelers will set the tone Saturday, August 14 at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Rinus VeeKay is the most recent winner on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course.

Top 10 Results: Ericsson, Dixon, Hinchcliffe, Hunter-Reay, Rahal, Jones, Palou, Rosenqvist, Castroneves and Newgarden

luisdtorres94@hotmail.com'
Luis Torres

Throughout my young motorsports media career, my number-one goal is to be a personnel that can be flexible with my writing and photography in the world of NASCAR, INDYCAR and ARCA (occasionally F1 and IMSA stuff as well). Whether it's the Daytona 500 or an ARCA Menards Series West race at Evergreen Speedway, content delivery is vital because this is my main passion and what keeps me going.

I've dealt with several challenges in my life, such as autism and making most out of trips despite relying on transportation. Even my quest of finding acceptance in my profession which has been my biggest challenge since graduating from college in 2016. Despite those hurdles with Motorsports Tribune and now The Podium Finish, I promise that you'll see excellence with my content.

Outside of media, I'm super vocal about my musical tastes that goes from Metallica to The Aces. Not only that, expect my social media filled with GIFs about my Seattle Seahawks because they make things a roller coaster experience.

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