By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
INDIANAPOLIS – It’s been nine years since Chip Ganassi Racing has won the Indianapolis 500. Certainly, a long drought for the four-car organization that consists of Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Alex Palou and one Marcus Ericsson.
After three days of solid progress in preparation for the 105th Indy 500, Ericsson continues to quietly build momentum. Not just for the Month of May, but this season as a whole. One of the key contributing factors is being with his No. 8 team for two straight seasons now and it has shown.
Five races into the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series campaign, Ericsson sits 11th in points, 18 markers of cracking the top-10 in points. Should Ericsson continue having a superb month, he may head into the Detroit doubleheader in that coveted top-10 table.
“It just makes a big difference,” said Ericsson Friday morning. “You start from a different level already from race one. I think we’ve had a strong start to the year. We’ve been fast everywhere we’ve gone, had some bad luck in a couple races that’s put us back.
“We go into this month really confident. I think we’ve shown in testing so far that we are strong and fast.”
Chip Ganassi, who wants wins from his competitors, feels that Ericsson’s moment to shine is bound to happen anytime soon.
Compared to last season, Motorsports Tribune asked if Ganassi’s pleased about Ericsson’s progress. However, certain things haven’t fully come into fruition just yet which is why the breakthrough should be paramount.
“They started at a higher level than they did a year ago. It’s been such a disappointment, the things that have happened the first couple races. We had some bad luck things that have happened,” said Ganassi.
“We had a guy on one of the tire changers, not that good. We took a tire changer off (Dixon’s car), put him on Marcus’ car, first race he has a problem. I don’t know how things like that happen. It’s just unfortunate. I think that team is ready to break out at any second.”
The fight for the Firestone Fast Nine, much less locking their way into the top-30 is vital Saturday. A year ago, Ericsson qualified 11th. He explained to Motorsports Tribune about how he felt about last August’s race up until being eliminated from the fight due to a crash.
“I think already last year we had a really strong month here. Yeah, we had good qualifying. We were just missing out on the Fast Nine,” Ericsson on last year’s experience.
“In the race I was moving forward quite quickly in the first stint until I had my crash. We went into this year with high confidence from last year basically. We’ve just been building on that.”
Ericsson added that each day has been a strong point for not just the No. 8 Honda, but his other three teammates.
All of which shown strong pace as well with Tony Kanaan leading Thursday’s practice charts. Perhaps all four have an opportunity of making the Fast Nine which would be a tremendous boost of ending their 500 drought.
“I think every day we’ve been strong. We’ve had four strong cars which obviously helps because you can work together, try different things,” said Ericsson.
“For me it’s clear, my big goal for now is to be in the Fast Nine this weekend. I think we have every possibility to be there. But it’s going to be tough. There’s a lot of fast cars out there. We need to make everything right.
“To be honest, we have four good chances to have all four cars in the Fast Nine. That’s going to be the goal. But let’s see today and tomorrow. It’s definitely our goal.”