Ericsson and Lundqvist involved in separate wrecks during Indy 500 preparations

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Former Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson and rookie Linus Lundqvist were involved in separate crashes during a busy day of practice Thursday, leaving their teams with a lot of extra work ahead of qualifying this weekend.

Ericsson, who was passed by Josef Newgarden on the last lap a year ago trying to defend his 2022 title, touched the curb at the bottom of the track going through Turns 3 and 4. That shot him into the outside wall, where his car sustained heavy damage on the left-hand side, before the No. 28 from Andretti Global skidded to a rest at the entrance to pit lane.

The 33-year-old from Sweden crashed with about 2 hours left in what had been the first dry practice all week; rain soon began to fall for the third consecutive day, keeping drivers off the track until the last 30 minutes of the session.

“I think we were in good shape,” Ericsson said, “but obviously you have a big crash like this, it sets everything back to zero.”

Earlier in the day, Lundqvist made a similar mistake going through Turns 1 and 2, shooting into the outside wall in the first wreck of Indy 500 preparations. The No. 8 entry from Chip Ganassi Racing sustained heavy damage to the right rear before skidding across the track and through the grass, where it finally came to a stop.

“It’s my mistake. I know exactly what I did,” said Lundqvist, who had posted the fastest four-lap average of the practice at 224.994 mph. “I touched the curb in 2 and I couldn’t hold onto it. It’s something that you talk about often around this place, but it’s just a mistake on my part and obviously the team pays the price for it.”

While Ericsson appeared to be headed for a backup car, Lundqvist’s crew was trying to put his damaged car back together.

“It goes so fast, especially when you’re down there and you realize where you’re at. It’s kind of too late,” Lundqvist said. “It’s a small mistake. Easy to happen. But obviously, big consequences.”

Ganassi is chasing a sixth Indy 500 win with five cars attempting to qualify. That includes three rookies — Lundqvist, Marcus Armstrong and Kyffin Simpson — along with 2008 winner Scott Dixon and two-time series champion Alex Palou.

Rain washed out Tuesday and most of Wednesday, and more was in the forecast for Friday, leaving the 34 drivers trying to make the 33-car field for the 108th running of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” squeezing in as many laps as possible.

Pato O’Ward put Chevrolet-powered Arrow McLaren atop the charts, turning a lap of 228.861 mph. Scott McLaughlin was again fast for Team Penske, while Palou was third and the fastest among the Honda-powered cars.

Santino Ferrucci, who has never finished outside the top 10 in five Indy 500 starts, and A.J. Foyt Racing were among those left scrambling at the end of another shortened practice. Ferrucci said his car was loose to the point that it was dangerous, and even after a series of changes, the team’s engineers were still trying to diagnose the problem.

“We can’t afford to really put one in the wall,” Ferrucci said. “We’re trying to figure out what it is. We’ve made a bunch of changes to make it safer (and) we made it looser. We’ve got a huge hill ahead of us right now.”

NASCAR star Kyle Larson, trying to become the fifth driver in history to attempt the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day, spent much of Thursday’s practice session out of the race car as his Arrow McLaren team tinkered with setups.

Larson finally made some laps in qualifying trim with a couple of hours left in practice.


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