SPEEDWAY, Ind. — For most of his career, Marcus Ericsson focused on proving his racing prowess.
Consequently, when the 32-year-old Swede crossed the finish line first at the Indianapolis 500 last year, he relished every second of the apparently lengthy victory lap.
The current IndyCar points leader and defending race champion is returning to the Brickyard with a new objective: demonstrating why he merits a new contract.
He added, “I want to be hired as a professional racing driver for my skills as a driver,” on Thursday, two days before the Indianapolis Grand Prix on the track’s 14-turn, 2.439-mile road circuit. “I believe I merit that. Therefore, it is my goal.”
A year after describing himself as a “pay driver,” someone who joins a team because of the sponsorship money attached to the driver rather than someone contracted to the team regardless of sponsorship cash, Ericsson’s résumé unquestionably looks different.
Indy changed that, perhaps forever.
After earning his third career IndyCar victory and enduring the customary post-race victory media frenzy, Scott Dixon, a six-time series champion and Ericsson’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate finished in third place, just 15 points ahead of Dixon. Dixon finished the season sixth in the final standings for the second consecutive year.
Ericsson won the first race of the year in March in St. Petersburg, Florida, and he leads Pato O’Ward by three points heading into May with top-10 finishes in each of the four races thus far this season. To win the race in May of last year, Ericsson had to hold off O’Ward on the last restart.
In addition to Kenny Braack, Ericsson is the only Swedish winner of the 500. “All my career, I’ve been working to get where I am today and I’ve gone through a lot of tough years,” stated Ericsson. “You know, I haven’t won a race in eight years. I definitely push myself to keep striving and believe in myself.
“I’ve devoted my entire life to racing and worked so hard to position myself to be in a position where I can win a large race, so I think it’s difficult to put into words when you win the biggest one.”
He has also been quite active off the track.
The Borg-Warner Trophy departed American soil for the fourth time in November when Ericsson brought it home. He visited the Swedish Embassy while in Stockholm, appeared in many magazine photo sessions, and attended a party in his hometown of Kumla’s main square at night.
Ericsson visited the NHL’s New York offices in February and went to a game at Madison Square Garden. He met rap artist, actor, and television producer 50 Cent when back in Indianapolis two weeks later to see the NBA’s Indiana Pacers.
Ganassi noted earlier this year, “He seems to have gotten more out of winning the Indy 500 than anyone else has in recent times, he has traveled much. It has been great for Marcus, the squad, and the series.”
He took a break from competing in April to Wed Greek beauty Iris Tritsaris Jondahl.