RACING

Ericsson relives Indy glory after modeling for Borg-Warner Trophy

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The Swedish Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda star, who turned 32 earlier this month, traveled to Tryon, North Carolina to pose for Behrends who has sculpted the faces of every winner since Arie Luyendyk in 1990. By a strange coincidence, Behrends began working on Luyendyk’s face. in September of that year, the same month that Ericsson was born, and it was his 33rd sculpture.

Ericsson joked that his girlfriend Iris Tritsaris “prefers the clay model of me to the real me” before praising Behrends for his work and reveling in the whole experience of winning the world’s biggest race.

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Photo by: Steve Shunck

“It’s an incredible experience,” he told Motorsport.com. “Around the 500, there are so many cool traditions, and one of the best is this, the carving, and having your face on the Borg-Warner trophy. It’s unique in the sports world. to have his face on the trophy; it’s pretty amazing.

“And now to be here and experience it, sit with Will, it’s pretty special. He had worked on it from photographs, then when I arrived he took notes and made small adjustments, but honestly the base he had made was already extremely good. I was very impressed when he unveiled it.

Photo by: Steve Shunck

“You never know, because it’s not every day that someone makes a sculpture of your face! It’s a bit difficult to know what to expect, but yes, I was very impressed.

Ericsson, who was in contention for the IndyCar championship until the last round of the year and eventually finished sixth for the second straight year, said the title battle kept him from really celebrating his triumph. at 106e Indianapolis 500 race. Now, he said, he was starting to relish it.

“Yeah, like you say, we had an intense season, right after the 500,” he remarked. “I was in the thick of it, fighting for the championship all year, so it was a bit difficult to sit down and think about what happened there in May – the fact that we won it and I’m an Indy 500 champion forever, so I think that’s something I’m going to take some time for, think about it and let it sink in.

“Coming here to North Carolina for this is a really cool way to come into the offseason and realize what we’ve accomplished.”

BorgWarner Inc. is currently hoping to send the trophy with Ericsson to Sweden, and the prospect has the former Formula 1 driver excited.

“It would be amazing and it actually seems likely to happen,” he said. “We will bring it to Stockholm, and my home town of Kumla [in Orebro]then to pose with the statue of Ronnie Peterson [in Almby, also part of Orebro]. And the King of Sweden is a big fan of racing and IndyCar, and I think he might want to be involved too. A lot of cool things could happen.

Ericsson said interest in IndyCar has grown in Sweden every year since 2019, when he and fellow countryman Felix Rosenqvist joined the series.

Ericsson, Behrends

Ericsson, Behrends

Photo by: Steve Shunck

“Last year when I won two races it sparked even more interest and this year it’s really become huge. There’s been a lot of coverage around IndyCar and the 500. If we “We can bring the Borg-Warner Trophy to Sweden, it will become even bigger. It would be a win-win, ideal for the series, ideal for the Indy 500.”

Ericsson expects to be even more formidable in the 500m next year, with Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda likely to be one of the strongest teams in the field, even if their rivals make gains, and now he himself has the confidence that he can know how to deliver.

“Yeah, I think what was cool was that at the beginning of the month we had a plan and we executed that plan to perfection, pretty much,” he says. “We were in the lead almost every session, we qualified in the lead and then we raced in the top five, the top six for the first 150 laps. But the preparation of the car and the driving were perfect, and that is how we won the race.

“We knew how fast we were, we had the pace in our hands during the first few stints, but we were flying a bit under the radar, making sure we were there for the end. Then when we needed go hard in the last 30 or 40 laps, we put our foot down [got around the two Arrow McLaren SP cars] and no one else had anything for us.

“So yeah, what we’ve done and the way we’ve done it gives me all the confidence. It’s so hard to win Indy once, but at least now we have the experience. The regulations will be similar otherwise identical next year, so there is no doubt that Ganassi and I will be able to fight for victory again.

The lowly Swede also admits he believes the wait during the red-flag period towards the end, after team-mate Jimmie Johnson hit the wall, and his subsequent ability to fend off Pato O’Ward’s attack during the final shootout had established a marker that he was mentally resilient.

Ericsson holds off O'Ward's last-lap overtaking attempt.

Ericsson holds off O’Ward’s last-lap overtaking attempt.

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt/Motorsport Images

“It doesn’t get more intense and more pressing than restarting the 500 with two laps to go, knowing you’re two laps away from winning the biggest race in the world,” he said. “Waiting for the restart during the red flag, having all these thoughts trying to sneak into your head, doesn’t get much harder than that in the sports world. So dealing with that kind of pressure and executing a plan that I had formed in my head for the last two rounds and how I wanted to do them…

“I was devastated the moment Jimmie crashed – I almost felt like I had to win the race twice!” – but in the end, the way I won it was great. During these last two rounds, I had to use all the strengths, experience, knowledge and skills that I have accumulated during my career.

“It was very, very cool.”

Marcus Ericsson, Chip Ganassi Racing

Marcus Ericsson, Chip Ganassi Racing

Photo by: Steve Shunck

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