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Ericsson’s 500 win helps fuel Swedish momentum in IndyCars

INDIANAPOLIS – Felix Rosenqvist sensed Swedish race lovers began following IndyAutomobiles earnestly once more in 2019.

Marcus Ericsson’s Indianapolis 500 victory will handiest gasoline the momentum.

After turning into the second one 500 winner from Sweden, Ericsson’s homecoming later this summer season may well be have compatibility for a king.

“I’m planning to go home for mid-summer, that could be a good mid-summer party, right?” he stated Sunday, profitable with a Hulski Chocolate, a Swedish-based corporate as his number one sponsor.

First, Ericsson should whole a weeklong victory excursion. That’s adopted by way of races subsequent Sunday at Detroit and the next Sunday at Road America ahead of a two-weekend wreck would possibly after all permit Ericsson to bask within the party of his house nation.

But the 31-year-old Ericsson does not thoughts the busy time table, particularly given the lengthy, exhausting trail he took to sign up for his mentor Kenny Brack atop the arena of IndyAutomotive racing. Brack gained the five hundred in 1999.

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And Ericsson’s fast ascension is prone to stay the pastime in American racing percolating during Europe.

Ericsson’s trek may just function a style for different global racers. After failing to make the rostrum in 97 Formula One begins, Ericsson left for IndyAutomobiles in 2019. He completed seventeenth in issues as a rookie, was once lower free by way of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and acquired a trip with Chip Ganassi Racing.

Since then, Ericsson relied at the recommendation Brack presented all the ones years in the past to supply 3 top-five finishes in every of the previous 3 seasons and 3 wins together with Sunday’s. Brack is not stunned by way of the effects — and understands how Sweden will embody its latest superstar.

“It’s great to see, so a big congratulations,” Brack stated on an impromptu telephone name Sunday. “I don’t think you realize yet what this means for your career, but you will find out in time.”

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While Ericsson’s victory sweeps Sweden, it is a boon for the sequence, too.

Three Nordic nation drivers are already full-time IndyAutomotive drivers — Ericsson, Rosenqvist and 21-year-old rookie Christian Luundgaard of Denmark. Add 21-year-old Rinus VeeKay of the Netherlands and Ericsson’s teammate, protecting sequence champion Alex Palou of Spain, and there is a distinctly influential European taste creating.

With American drivers equivalent to Colton Herta and Josef Newgarden, Mexico’s Pato O’Ward of Mexico, the five hundred runner-up, and a powerful however growing old staff of South American drivers proceeding to win the hearts of IndyAutomotive lovers, there is no indication the pool of world ability is abating.

Four-time Indy winner Helio Castroneves compares what is taking place in Northern Europe these days to the transformational South American contingent he helped lead twenty years in the past.

“It does,” the Brazilian stated. “I can’t even pronounce those guys’ names because they are Swedish, but I think all these guys are watching what’s happening and they should. If you have enough talent, why don’t you come to a place where if you’re good, you’re going to have your opportunity?”

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Rosenqvist and Ericsson certainly found it in America.

They made the jump together after Rosenqvist’s F1 quest ended. He initially landed with Ganassi’s team, earning 2019 rookie of the year honors and his first career win at Road America in 2020.

Rosenqvist moved to Arrow McLaren SP last year and while he hasn’t yet returned to victory lane, the 31-year-old has won one pole, posted four top-10 finishes and was in contention for the win Sunday before finishing a career-best fourth, giving the Swedes two spots in the top five.

“Obviously, people that follow me and Marcus, the word kind of gets spread around,” Rosenqvist stated. “There was a big spike in 2019 when we both came here and now it’s a consistently growing fan base in Sweden. With all the new talent in Sweden, I think we have a good future in the U.S.”

The question is how much will Ericsson’s big victory help?

Drivers with previous Formula One experience, such as Ericsson, Romain Grosjean of France and Takuma Sato of Japan, have found more success in America than overseas.

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Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso of Spain may return to the 500 at some point, too.

There’s no indication the influx of talent or opportunities are abating.

The series already fields 26 full-time entries, its highest total in a decade, and at least three additional teams — Cusick Motorsports, Paretta Autosport and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing — would like to run full time.

That could open the door to even more Swedes as Ericsson’s 500 win gives him IndyCar’s top spot as the new points leader.

“It’s something you dream of for so long. To actually do it, you have to pinch yourself,” he stated. “All that beef up (from Sweden) is essential to me. I’m extraordinarily grateful for that. I am hoping they loved that second.”

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