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Consistency, Smart Racecraft Help Ericsson Produce Solid Sophomore Season

Marcus Ericsson has quietly delivered one of the strongest racing seasons in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in 2020, which should bode well for him in the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR on Oct. 2-3 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

There have been 11 NTT INDYCAR SERIES races this season, and Chip Ganassi Racing’s newest driver has finished better than he started – or effectively held his position throughout the race – eight times in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda.

There is no better example of Ericsson’s progression through the field than the GMR Grand Prix at IMS on July 4 when he started 14th and finished sixth.

Also, Ericsson advanced 10 positions – from 15th to fifth – in last weekend’s second race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, and he went from 16th to fourth in the second race at Road America on July 12.

“I think my racecraft has always been one of my biggest strengths,” said Ericsson, who spent five years in Formula One before joining INDYCAR for the 2019 season. “For some reason since I came over here to INDYCAR, I’ve struggled in qualifying – it was the same last year in my rookie season. This year I haven’t been qualifying high enough, and that’s been hurting my races because I’ve had to come through the field a lot.”

Ericsson said his biggest challenge in two INDYCAR seasons has been figuring out how to maximize Firestone’s alternate tire compound – known as the reds – with limited time in qualifying sessions.

“It’s been a big difference from what I was used to in F1 with the tire warmers,” he said. “It’s a very different technique and driving style. That’s the biggest thing I have to work on because it’s clear my racecraft has been one of the best in the field.”

Ericsson’s efforts have contributed to Chip Ganassi’s organization leading the way this season. Five-time series champion Scott Dixon is atop the driver standings with four race wins, including the GMR Grand Prix, while Felix Rosenqvist scored his first series victory at the second Road America race.

With three races remaining this season, Ericsson not only trails Rosenqvist by just 14 points, he is only 19 points from being 10th in the standings. He finished 17th last year as a series rookie with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

Ericsson is proud to have reduced the number of mistakes he has made this season. He cited a Turn 1 crash in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge as one of his few mistakes.

“Last year I missed out on some good results as a result of (mistakes),” Ericsson said. “I think this year it’s been one of my strengths that I haven’t made too many mistakes on the driving side. Crashing out of the ‘500’ is one of the only ones I’ve done – call it a bigger mistake.

“I definitely feel I’ve been driving a lot better this year, learning from my experiences in my rookie year. I’ve had some really strong showings. The only thing I haven’t done is step on the podium (with a top-three finish); that’s something I want to do before the end of the year.”

Like last year, some of the Swede’s best work has been done on short oval tracks. He finished ninth in both Iowa Speedway races and finished fifth in the first of the two races at WorldWide Technology Raceway. In the four races at those tracks, he produced an average starting position of 7.5.

“The short ovals are probably the tracks I enjoy the most,” he said. “I really like Iowa; I think that’s an awesome racetrack. I was going for a podium there last year until I had a penalty, and this year I had two solid (ninth-place) finishes. I had a good showing at Gateway, too. That was my best race based on performance.

“I definitely feel my driving style is really suited to ovals -- and obviously the short ovals.”

Ericsson is primed to finish strong because he considers the IMS road course the U.S. track where he feels the most comfortable.

“I think it’s a fun track, pretty technical,” the Indianapolis resident said. “All of the (INDYCAR) tracks are still new to me, and I’m still learning them. But this is one of the tracks I feel most at home at here in the States.”

Race 1 of the INDYCAR Harvest GP doubleheader will be broadcast at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Friday, Oct. 2 on the USA Network, while Race 2 will be broadcast at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3 on NBC.

Tickets and the full weekend schedule can be accessed at IMS.com.

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