Marcus Ericsson has heard you. The only reason people think that he’s even in a position to score his 1st career NTT INDYCAR Series championship is because of the double points he netted for his Indianapolis 500 win back in May. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
While some say that double points for Indy sways a title, trends say otherwise. The last time someone won the Indy 500 and NTT INDYCAR Series championship in the same season was Dario Franchitti back in 2010.
Ericsson is hoping to be the 1st to do so in the last 12 seasons.
He sits 4th in points at the moment (-39) and knows that while the task is big, it’s not like it’s too large to overcome. In a series like this one, anything can happen.
“The championship is quite far away now. I go (into Laguna Seca) to win the race,” Ericsson said. “We had a good test there, the car’s been good in the past, and I aim to win, and we’ll see how far that gets us up there. That’s the mindset for the last one.”
However, if Ericsson doesn’t win the title, does he consider this a failure? I mean every driver has two main goals entering a season — an Indy 500 win and a series championship. He has 1. Can he get the other?
He has 11 top 10 finishes this season which is as many as he had last year (12). The difference this year is that while he had 2 wins in 2021 compared to 1 in 2022, 5 of his 11 top 10’s this season were found in the top 5. Last year, he had just 3 top 5’s. He had 2 in 2020 and 1 in his rookie season in 2019.
Which shows what?
He’s improving each year which is why he went from 17th in points in 2019 to 12th in 2020 to 6th last year and now a great shot of a top 5. His consistency is why he’s having a shot at this year’s title, not his Indy 500 win.
While the Indy win has some to do with it, it’s not the entire story. The entire story is what I keep reflecting back to that June day in Belle Isle during his rookie season.
This series was all new to him then. In that year, Detroit was a doubleheader so the Sunday race the first time of his career that he saw a track twice. He finished 2nd that day.
“Exactly, I tell Sam and Ric that look what happens when I get to a track for a second time and the result. It’s definitely a good boost,” Ericsson told me that afternoon.
That day could have sealed his fate for the long-haul. He also told me that he was fighting for a 2020 contract then.
“It’s extremely important,” said Ericsson on that June day. “This year hasn’t been that good results wise. We’ve been strong and had the pace everywhere but we haven’t been able to have a complete weekend. We’ve been close. That’s why it’s so important to get this result.
“For me, I’m fighting to get a new contract in IndyCar and to get a new contract here you have to have results like we’ve had today. That was a very important day.”
Boy was it ever. Ericsson was right too. He improved each time he saw a track a 2nd time. He improved again in the 3rd time and now in the 4th time, he’s in the championship fight heading to the season finale.
Even if Sunday doesn’t go his way, 2023 may… Just look at who’s he’s fighting for this year’s title. Scott Dixon has 6 championships which is 1 shy for being tied for the most ever. Josef Newgarden has won 2 titles in the last 5 years. Power has a championship before in 2014. This is all new for Ericsson.
Remember what happens the 2nd time around….