Marcus Ericsson has ‘unfinished business’ in Long Beach – Daily News
Marcus Ericsson’s two NTT IndyCar wins have come on street courses in Detroit and Nashville in 2021, so he expects to do well at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
So far, that hasn’t happened for Ericsson, whose two races on the streets of Long Beach ended in 20th place in 2019 and 28th in 2021, while Colton Herta crossed the finish line first.
Ericsson, 31, from Sweden, wants to do something about it at the 47th edition of the race next Sunday. He only completed 25 of the 85 laps of the 2021 race, after hitting the tires at Turn 1.
“Yeah, that’s right,” said Ericsson, who struggles for Chip Ganassi Racing. “I went there in Turn 1 quite early so I definitely have some unfinished business in Long Beach.”
He made his point perfectly clear.
“I won my two races in IndyCar on street circuits and I also had good results in St. Pete; it’s another street course we’re going to,” he said, referring to the event in St. Petersburg, Florida. “So I feel like in general I’m pretty strong in the street courses.
“But for some reason the two events in Long Beach that I attended didn’t really go as well, so I feel really motivated and focused to try to turn things around and have a great weekend.”
Ericsson twice finished as high as seventh at St. Pete. He finished ninth that season there in Game 1 of the series. He said he was running fourth when he picked up a penalty for a pit lane incident that pushed him back to 25th before moving up to ninth.
This would indicate that he knows what he is doing on a street circuit and wants to show it in Long Beach.
“I think last year went pretty well, I was running pretty well in the race until I had this incident,” said Ericsson, who is in his fourth NTT IndyCar season. “So definitely it’s a tough track, it’s a tough lap to get everything out of it, so it’s not an easy place.
“But I feel like this year in general I’ve taken another step in my driving and the whole crew of the 8 cars, we’re racing at a higher level.”
Ericsson has talked a lot about working hard in the offseason to improve Ovals. He saw it pay off at the second race of the season – the XPEL 375 in Texas. He was 19th there in 2021 but was on the podium this year with a third place.
“It was really good proof that that hard work is paying off to get that podium in Texas, to see that the time and effort we put in during the offseason actually makes a difference,” he said.
He hopes his dedication will pay bigger dividends down the road. He finished sixth in series points in 2021 with 435 and could have been higher had he been able to avoid a DNF in Long Beach.
“But sixth was still a good result last year and it was a solid season for me and I felt a little breakthrough for me here in the United States,” he said. “And at the start of the year, I’m building on that momentum that I had last year.
“I work with the same core group of people at Chip Ganassi Racing. And I feel like this off-season we’ve worked very hard to prepare ourselves to be able to fight for this (serial) championship.
Ericsson is fifth in points (58) this year after two races.
Ericcson said his five seasons in Formula 1 taught him how to deal with that kind of pressure. He also said he has Chip Ganassi Racing teammates like defending series champion Scott Dixon Alex Palou and the NASCAR legend jimmy johnson creates a hell of a positive atmosphere.
“I think he might be the best of all time in IndyCar,” Ericsson said of Dixon, who has won six IndyCar Series championships. “You could argue that, at least.” And being a teammate with a guy like him has helped me tremendously to improve and perform at my best.
Michaelian upbeat, as usual
Jim Michaelian and his crew in 2021 held the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach at the end of September – it was the season finale – instead of April due to the coronavirus pandemic, which was also responsible for the cancellation of the 2020 race.
He is delighted that the annual event is returning to its normal timeslot.
“It’s awesome, it’s awesome,” said Michaelian, CEO of the Long Beach Grand Prix Association. “This event has traditionally been a spring event since 1976 (in its second edition) and it’s great to be back. Spring break, people on vacation, the kids are out of school, and we’re going to the Grand Prix.
“These things have all created an environment and atmosphere for this event for many years and we are happy to be back on our April 22 date.”
There is something else that ignited Michaelian.
“We are lucky now because of the latest decision from the California Department of Public Health that there will be no (coronavirus) protocols, mandates here,” he said. “It’s very important because now people can come, have fun.
“If they want to take certain precautions, ie wear a mask or do something like that, that’s fine. But we won’t require people to do that and I think that’s really important in creating an atmosphere where people just come in and are excited to enjoy a nice weekend in Long Beach.
Praise his crew
Michaelian hinted that he never had any qualms about whether he and his team would be able to stage the 2021 and 2022 events just over six months apart.
“With the expertise we have with our staff and their knowledge base, I had no hesitation in going back and getting this thing up and running in six months,” he said. “They are experts at what they do and you will see that reflected again here next weekend.”