Marcus Ericsson stood on pit lane puzzled following an eighth-place finish in the PPG 375 on April 2 at Texas Motor Speedway.
The race was finished for nearly half an hour, but the Swede and engineer Brad Goldberg were still dissecting an outing that left Ericsson noticeably bothered. By all accounts, it was a positive result after starting 16th, but the frustration came from not being on par with the pace of his Chip Ganassi Racing teammates. Scott Dixon qualified second and finished fifth; Alex Palou qualified seventh and finished third. Takuma Sato was eliminated in an early crash but qualified sixth.
“It was, to be honest, a pretty tough weekend for us on No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda,” Ericsson said. “We rolled off and just didn't have the speed from Practice One. It was strange because all four Chip Ganassi cars were very similar on setups, downforce and everything, but for some reason we were just struggling a bit more than our teammates from the get-go. I think that showed in qualifying, as well. We were quite slow compared to our teammates and we don't really know why. It was a similar feeling in the race. The car felt quite good to drive, but it was we were just lacking pace.
“It made it a tough day, but I think the positive was that we still got a P8 and good points out of it. When you have the bad days, if you can still score top eight, that's how you win a championship. A disappointing weekend overall, but still come away with a good result that we are going to look back on the end of the year and be like: 'Yeah, that was good. We got a P8.'”
The sour outcome could spell trouble for the rest of the field as the next round on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES is this weekend’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. While Ericsson has never taken victory at the prestigious race, the street circuit venue plays right into his hands, with three of his four career wins coming at that track discipline, including the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding last month.
If a disappointing finish at Texas wasn’t enough, last year’s race at Long Beach is the site where Ericsson lost a podium – and potential victory – after an incident with 19 laps to go knocked him out of third place and watching the remaining contest from inside of Turn 5.
“I feel a big hunger of revenge going back to Long Beach because I was on for a really good result there last year when late in the race, I tapped a wall there and crashed out of running P3 there toward the very end,” said Ericsson, the 2022 Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge winner. “I was very disappointed about that finish last year because we had a really strong car there, and I had a really good race going. So, I'll use that hunger and go back and try and be on the top step of the podium in Long Beach.”
The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach starts at 3 p.m. ET Sunday, April 16, with live coverage of NBC, Peacock, INDYCAR LIVE and the INDYCAR Radio Network.