NHRA: Worsham rolls to 3rd Countdown win, but Beckman stays close

(Photo courtesy NHRA)
3 Comments

ENNIS, Texas – Del Worsham was uncertain of two things after he crossed the finish line of the final round of the NHRA’s AAA Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex.

Worsham quickly sought answers from his crew chief over the radio.

Yes, he had beat championship rival Jack Beckman to the line for the win.

But as he rolled down the 1,000-foot drag strip, he feared he may have crossed the center line, which would have resulted in immediate disqualification.

“I thought I was OK on the tree (starting line), I thought everything was good,” Worsham said. “We were going along and I couldn’t actually see (Beckman), but I wasn’t looking at him.

“Then all of a sudden, at about the time I was home free, it darts to the right and I just jerked the wheel to the left, shut it off and got the (parachutes) out.”

While it was close, it turns out Worsham hadn’t crossed the line.

In their first career final round matchup, Worsham defeated Beckman on a holeshot for his third win in the first four rounds of the Countdown to the Championship. Worsham crossed the line in 4.041 sec. at 272.17 mph, while Beckman finished in 4.077 sec. at a much faster 287.25 mph.

Despite Worsham’s three wins in the first four races of the six-event playoff, Beckman is making a battle of it, trailing Worsham by just 38 points with two races remaining (Las Vegas in two weeks and the season finale at Ponoma in mid-November).

“The reality of it is there aren’t a whole lot of rounds left,” Worsham said, soaking in his third win at the track where he earned his nitro fuel license 25 years ago. “You would think if a guy won three races out of four in the Countdown, he would have somewhat of a lead. I don’t think we have any lead.”

Beckman can take solace in that he leaves Dallas with new track records in elapsed time (3.909 seconds) and speed (326.32 mph), both set in the first round of eliminations.

Top Fuel

When he’s in the final round, Richie Crampton can do no wrong. The Australian outlasted Steve Torrence to claim his fifth win of the 2015 season and the seventh of his career. He’s now undefeated in seven final round appearances.

“I was actually more nervous about the first round than the final round because of that (stat),” Crampton said.

Torrence began pedaling his dragster three-quarters of the way down the racetrack, while Crampton showed signs of tire spinning just before he crossed the finish line in 3.97 seconds at 283.07 mph. Torrence’s time was 4.074 seconds at 267.32 mph.

Crampton made it to the final round despite a clutch control issue that began in the second round against Brittany Force.

“I was helping guys change the clutch control between rounds twice today,” Crampton said. “For those of you who would understand, (it) is a pretty big process. At the end of this day, I’m just beat. “

It’s Crampton’s first win since August’s Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd, Minn., and his first career Countdown win.

Despite losing to Crampton in the semifinals, Antron Brown, who won the first three races of the Countdown, increased his lead in the Top Fuel standings to 132 points over teammate and defending champ Tony Schumacher, who lost in Sunday’s opening round.

Pro Stock

It took a better engine and a margin of .002 seconds for Erica Enders to claim the Pro Stock win.

Jonathan Gray got the jump on her with a reaction time of .010 sec. to Enders’ .030. But the 2014 Pro Stock champion was the first across the finish line, which she crossed in 6.467 seconds at 214.48 mph, to Gray’s 6.489 seconds, 213.60 mph run.

It was the Houston native’s first win at the Texas Motorplex, where she’s raced since she was 8-years-old in 1992. She also claimed the record for wins in a season by a female driver.

“This place definitely holds a special place in my heart,” Enders said. “I’ve wanted a cowboy hat and a brick (the trophies for winners) for a really long time and we were finally able to get it done today.”

Enders’ eighth win of the season gives her a full race lead in the point standings over Greg Anderson.

Enders’ final round reaction time was her only one Sunday that was slower than .017 seconds. Her fastest was .008 against Chris McGaha in the second round.

Track Record: Anderson had no time to enjoy his track records in E.T. (6.457 seconds) and speed (214.59 mph). The former champion was beaten in a hole-shot win by Chris McGaha in the first round.

Pro Stock Motorcycle

New isn’t always better. Jerry Savoie, driving a 2001 Suzuki TL 1000, was the No. 1 qualifier in Pro Stock Motorcycle and continued on to win the race, defeating Eddie Krawiec on his 2015 HD V-Rod.

Savoie earned his third win of 2015 in a holeshot, leaving the line after .016 seconds to Krawiec’s .040. Savoie went the distance in 6.744 seconds and 198.44 mph for his fourth career win.

“Man, that is one fast motor scooter,”the 56-year-old Louisiana alligator farm owner said. “I keep telling everybody I wish I could see it. My goal was to win one race. Just one race. For this to be happening in my life, there’s only one person that controls it and that’s God up above.”

Track Record: Savoie put down the record for both E.T. and speed in two different rounds. He went 6.74 seconds in the final round and his speed of 198.99 came one round earlier against Karren Stofer.

FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1. Richie Crampton; 2.  Steve Torrence; 3.  Clay Millican; 4.  Antron Brown; 5.  Brittany Force; 6.  Shawn Langdon; 7.  Billy Torrence; 8.  Dave Connolly; 9.  Larry Dixon; 10.  Doug Kalitta; 11. J.R. Todd; 12.  Jenna Haddock; 13.  Tony Schumacher; 14.  Kebin Kinsley; 15.  Terry McMillen; 16. Troy Buff.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Del Worsham; 2.  Jack Beckman; 3.  Ron Capps; 4.  Tommy Johnson Jr.; 5.  Robert Hight; 6.  Matt Hagan; 7.  Alexis DeJoria; 8.  John Force; 9.  Cruz Pedregon; 10.  Cory Lee; 11.  Tim Wilkerson; 12.  Courtney Force; 13.  John Hale; 14.  Blake Alexander; 15.  Tony Pedregon; 16.  Chad Head.

PRO STOCK: 1. Erica Enders; 2.  Jonathan Gray; 3.  Drew Skillman; 4.  Allen Johnson; 5.  Jason Line; 6. Larry Morgan; 7.  Chris McGaha; 8.  Bo Butner; 9.  Greg Anderson; 10.  Shane Gray; 11.  V. Gaines; 12.  Alex Laughlin; 13.  Deric Kramer; 14.  Alan Prusiensky; 15.  Vincent Nobile; 16.  John Gaydosh Jr.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Jerry Savoie; 2.  Eddie Krawiec; 3.  Karen Stoffer; 4.  Chip Ellis; 5.  Matt Smith; 6.  Steve Johnson; 7.  Hector Arana; 8.  Hector Arana Jr; 9.  Scotty Pollacheck; 10.  Michael Ray; 11.  Jim Underdahl; 12.  LE Tonglet; 13.  Shawn Gann; 14.  Angie Smith; 15.  Andrew Hines; 16.  Mike Berry.

FINAL RESULTS:

Top Fuel — Richie Crampton, 3.972 seconds, 283.07 mph  def. Steve Torrence, 4.074 seconds, 267.32 mph.

Funny Car — Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 4.041, 272.17  def. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.077, 286.25.

Pro Stock — Erica Enders, Chevy Camaro, 6.467, 214.48  def. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.489, 213.60.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.744, 198.44  def. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.915, 196.30.

FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL:

ROUND ONE — Richie Crampton, 3.705, 328.94 def. Doug Kalitta, 3.761, 326.56; Antron Brown, 3.716, 324.51 def. J.R. Todd, 3.777, 326.56; Dave Connolly, 3.789, 325.61 def. Jenna Haddock, 4.109, 276.58; Billy Torrence, 3.732, 326.71 def. Kebin Kinsley, 4.193, 201.88; Brittany Force, 3.756, 327.90 def. Terry McMillen, 5.456, 130.37; Shawn Langdon, 3.733, 328.54 def. Troy Buff, 14.710, 33.74; Steve Torrence, 3.735, 326.24 def. Larry Dixon, 3.759, 323.81; Clay Millican, 3.748, 321.35 def. Tony Schumacher, 4.114, 227.92; QUARTERFINALS — Millican, 3.772, 320.51 def. Connolly, 3.796, 322.11; Brown, 3.732, 324.20 def. B. Torrence, 3.789, 300.93; Crampton, 4.005, 294.95 def. Force, foul; S. Torrence, 3.735, 326.95 def. Langdon, 3.783, 327.82; SEMIFINALS — S. Torrence, 3.781, 324.12 def. Millican, 4.810, 153.32; Crampton, 3.814, 321.19 def. Brown, 4.919, 151.34; FINAL — Crampton, 3.972, 283.07 def. S. Torrence, 4.074, 267.32.

FUNNY CAR:

ROUND ONE — Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.940, 322.73 def. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 3.965, 319.37; Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.971, 321.19 def. Cory Lee, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 4.273, 239.06; Del Worsham, Camry, 3.925, 324.67 def. John Hale, Charger, 6.812, 95.90; Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.909, 326.32 def. Tony Pedregon, Camry, DQ; Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.381, 246.08 def. Blake Alexander, Charger, foul; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.947, 322.27 def. Chad Head, Camry, DQ; John Force, Camaro, 3.998, 324.83 def. Courtney Force, Camaro, 4.874, 160.98; Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.007, 320.20 def. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.751, 167.70; QUARTERFINALS — Johnson Jr., 3.975, 321.65 def. Hagan, 3.993, 321.73; Capps, 3.957, 322.73 def. Hight, 3.974, 321.50; Beckman, 4.281, 261.83 def. J. Force, 5.570, 99.68; Worsham, 3.970, 321.65 def. DeJoria, 4.737, 169.02; SEMIFINALS — Beckman, 3.989, 312.93 def. Johnson Jr., 4.294, 224.21; Worsham, 3.975, 320.66 def. Capps, 3.999, 319.29; FINAL — Worsham, 4.041, 272.17 def. Beckman, 4.077, 286.25.

PRO STOCK:

ROUND ONE — Larry Morgan, Chevy Camaro, 6.484, 213.60 def. Shane Gray, Camaro, foul; Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.493, 212.96 def. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 7.902, 122.09; Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.477, 213.98 def. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.522, 212.83; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.504, 213.20 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.457, 214.59; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.467, 214.25 def. V. Gaines, Dart, 6.505, 212.59; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.467, 214.18 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Avenger, 6.701, 207.11; Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.472, 214.14 def. Deric Kramer, Dart, 6.524, 211.20; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.475, 213.60 def. John Gaydosh Jr, Chevrolet Camaro, 9.466, 96.97; QUARTERFINALS — J. Gray, 6.524, 212.33 def. Butner, 6.519, 213.43; Skillman, 6.471, 214.31 def. Morgan, foul; Johnson, 6.530, 212.26 def. Line, 6.482, 214.14; Enders, 6.461, 214.45 def. McGaha, 6.512, 213.03; SEMIFINALS — J. Gray, 6.514, 213.74 def. Johnson, 6.524, 212.59; Enders, 6.472, 214.21 def. Skillman, 6.485, 213.37; FINAL — Enders, 6.467, 214.48 def. J. Gray, 6.489, 213.60.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:

ROUND ONE — Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.785, 197.94 def. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.852, 195.62; Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.821, 196.39 def. Michael Ray, Buell, 6.892, 192.82; Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.827, 196.79 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.896, 195.73; Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.919, 196.70 def. Mike Berry, Buell, broke; Hector Arana, Buell, 6.904, 195.34 def. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 7.378, 138.76; Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.827, 196.13 def. Shawn Gann, Buell, 6.925, 186.77; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.859, 196.39 def. Angie Smith, 7.010, 185.74; Matt Smith, 6.817, 194.97 def. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.899, 193.63; QUARTERFINALS — Savoie, 6.779, 198.20 def. M. Smith, 6.886, 193.82; Ellis, 6.840, 196.33 def. Arana, 6.895, 195.45; Stoffer, 6.820, 196.82 def. Johnson, 6.888, 194.55; Krawiec, 6.830, 194.46 def. Arana Jr, foul; SEMIFINALS — Savoie, 6.753, 198.99 def. Stoffer, 6.814, 196.42; Krawiec, 6.820, 194.94 def. Ellis, 6.819, 196.42; FINAL — Savoie, 6.744, 198.44 def. Krawiec, 6.915, 196.30.

UPDATED POINT STANDINGS:

Top Fuel: 1. Antron Brown, 2,505; 2.  Tony Schumacher, 2,373; 3.  Richie Crampton, 2,302; 4.  Brittany Force, 2,298; 5.  Larry Dixon, 2,268; 6.  Steve Torrence, 2,254; 7.  Shawn Langdon, 2,236; 8.  Dave Connolly, 2,219; 9.  J.R. Todd, 2,213; 10.  Doug Kalitta, 2,205.

Funny Car: 1. Del Worsham, 2,488; 2.  Jack Beckman, 2,450; 3.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 2,341; 4.  Ron Capps, 2,330; 5.  Matt Hagan, 2,329; 6.  John Force, 2,264; 7.  Alexis DeJoria, 2,206; 8.  Cruz Pedregon, 2,201; 9.  Robert Hight, 2,196; 10.  Tim Wilkerson, 2,195.

Pro Stock: 1. Erica Enders, 2,501; 2.  Greg Anderson, 2,347; 3.  Chris McGaha, 2,335; 4.  Allen Johnson, 2,299; 5.  Drew Skillman, 2,298; 6.  Larry Morgan, 2,292; 7.  Jason Line, 2,240; 8.  (tie) Jonathan Gray, 2,220; Vincent Nobile, 2,220; 10.  Shane Gray, 2,183.

Pro Stock Motorcycle: 1. Andrew Hines, 2,412; 2.  Eddie Krawiec, 2,391; 3.  Jerry Savoie, 2,381; 4.  Hector Arana Jr, 2,331; 5.  Chip Ellis, 2,305; 6.  Matt Smith, 2,297; 7.  Karen Stoffer, 2,280; 8.  Hector Arana, 2,219; 9.  Jim Underdahl, 2,158; 10.  Scotty Pollacheck, 2,107.

‘Baby Borgs’ bring special Indy 500 bonds, memories for Marcus Ericsson, Chip Ganassi

Ganassi Ericsson Indy
Mike Levitt/LAT Images/BorgWarner
0 Comments

THERMAL, Calif. – Winning the Indy 500 is a crowning achievement for driver and car owner, but for Chip Ganassi, last May’s victory by Marcus Ericsson had meaning even beyond just capturing one of the world’s greatest sporting events.

When Ganassi was 5 years old and growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, his father, Floyd, attended a convention in Indianapolis in 1963. Floyd went to Indianapolis Motor Speedway to tour the track and visit the former museum that used to stand next to the main gate on 16th and Georgetown.

Ganassi’s father brought young Chip a souvenir from the gift shop. It was an 8-millimeter film of the 1963 Indy 500, a race won by the legendary Parnelli Jones.

“I must have watched it about 1,000 times,” Ganassi recalled. “More importantly than that, something you did when you were 5 years old is still with you today.

“I was 50 years old when I celebrated my Thanksgiving with Parnelli. It dawned on me that something I did when I was 5 years old took me to when I was 50 years old. That’s pretty special.”

Ericsson and Ganassi were presented with their “Baby Borgs,” the mini-replicas of the Borg-Warner Trophy, in a ceremony Feb. 2 at The Thermal Club (which played host to NTT IndyCar Series preseason testing). The win in the 106th Indy 500 marked the sixth time a Ganassi driver won the biggest race in the world.

Ganassi will turn 65 on May 24, just four days before the 107th Indianapolis 500 on May 28. The 2023 race will mark the 60th anniversary of the victory by Jones, who is now the oldest living winner of the Indianapolis 500 at 89.

Jones wanted to do something special for Ericsson and Ganassi, so each was given framed photos personally inscribed by Jones.

Parnelli Jones (Steve Shunck Photo For BorgWarner)

“Congratulations Marcus Ericsson and my good friend Chip Ganassi on winning the 2022 Indianapolis 500,” Jones said in remarks conveyed by BorgWarner publicist Steve Shunck. “There is no greater race in the whole world and winning it in 1963 was by far the biggest thrill in my life.”

Ganassi’s relationship with his racing hero began 60 years ago, but the two have shared some important moments since then.

It was Jones that signed off on Ganassi’s first Indianapolis 500 license in 1982. Jones was one of the veteran observers who worked with Ganassi and other rookie drivers that year to ensure they were capable of competing in the high-speed, high-risk Indianapolis 500.

When Ganassi turned 50, he got to celebrate Thanksgiving dinner with Jones.

“We’ve been friends over the years,” Ganassi told NBC Sports. “He wrote me a personal note and sent me some personal photographs. It really says what this race is all about and how important it is to win the biggest auto race in the world.”

Michelle Collins, the director of global communications and marketing for BorgWarner, presented the “Baby Borgs,” first to Ganassi and then to Ericsson.

“More special is winning the Indianapolis 500,” Ganassi said during the presentation. “It’s been a big part of my life. I want to call out my buddy, Roger Penske, and thank him for the stewardship of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and what it means to us. It’s about the history, the tradition and, to me, it’s about the people that have meant so much in my life.

“Thanks for the trophy, Marcus.”

Marcus Ericsson and Chip Ganassi hold their Baby Borgs while posing with the Borg-Warner Trophy (Bruce Martin).

The Baby Borg presentation also came on the birthday of sculptor William Behrends, who has crafted the Bas-relief sterling silver face of each winner on the Borg-Warner Trophy since 1990. The “Baby Borg” presents each winner with a miniature of one of the most famous trophies in sports.

“I have to thank BorgWarner for everything that has happened since winning the Indianapolis 500, including the trip to Sweden,” said Ericsson, who took a November victory lap in his native country. “I’m very thankful for that because it’s memories that are going to be with me for the rest of my life.

“To bring the Borg-Warner Trophy to my hometown, seeing all the people there on the city square on a dark day in the middle of November. It was filled with people and that was very special.

“I’m very proud and honored to be part of Chip Ganassi Racing. To win the Indianapolis 500 with that team is quite an honor. It’s a team effort and a lot of people worked very hard to make this happen.

“Our focus now is to go back-to-back at the Indy 500.”


If Ericsson is successful in becoming the first driver to win back-to-back Indy since Helio Castroneves in 2001-02, he can collect an additional $420,000 in the Borg-Warner Rollover Bonus. With Castroneves the last driver to collect, the bonus has grown to an astronomical amount over 21 years.

Ericsson is from Kumla, Sweden, so the $420,000 would have an exchange rate of $4,447,641.67 Swedish Kronor.

“It’s a nice thing to know I could get that if I do win it again,” Ericsson told NBC Sports. “But the Indianapolis 500 with its history as the biggest and greatest race in the world, it doesn’t matter with the money, with the points, with anything. Everyone is going to go out there and do everything to win that race.

“It’s great to know that, but I will race just as hard.”

Marcus Ericsson points at the newest face on the Borg-Warner Trophy (Mike Levitt/LAT Images/BorgWarner).

A popular slogan in racing is “Chip Likes Winners.” After winning the 106th Indy 500, Ganassi must really love Ericsson.

“It doesn’t get much bigger than that, does it? I’m very thankful to be driving for Chip,” Ericsson said. “He likes winners and winning the Indianapolis 500, it doesn’t get better than that.”

When Ericsson was presented with his Baby Borg, he stood off to the side and admired it the way a child looks at a special gift on Christmas morning. The wide-eyed amazement of his career-defining moment was easy to read and met with delight by executives of BorgWarner (an automotive and technology company that has sponsored the Borg-Warner Trophy since its 1935 debut).

“I noticed that immediately and I was watching him look at it wishing I had a camera to capture that,” Collins told NBC Sports. “But maybe not because we always have our phones in front of us and it’s nice to take in that moment as it is. That is what makes the moment well worth it.”

Marcus Ericsson (Bruce Martin)

Said BorgWarner executive vice president and chief strategic officer Paul Farrell: “It’s very special to have the big trophy that has been around since 1935 and to have a piece of that. Hopefully it’s something that (Ericsson) cherishes. We think it’s special, and clearly, Marcus Ericsson thinks it is very special.”

The trophy process begins shortly after the race as the winner has the famed Borg-Warner Wreath placed around his neck, and the Borg-Warner Trophy is put on the engine cover. The next morning, the winner meets with Behrends, who has been sculpting the faces on the trophy since Arie Luyendyk’s first victory in 1990. Later in the year, the winner visits Behrends’ studio in Tryon, North Carolina, for a “Live Study.”

The process takes several more steps before the face is reduced to the size of an egg and casted in sterling silver. It is attached to the permanent Borg-Warner Trophy and unveiled at a ceremony later in the year. Ericsson’s face was unveiled last October during a ceremony in Indianapolis.

That’s when it hit Ericsson, a three-time winner in IndyCar after going winless in Formula One over 97 starts from 2014-18.

“Until then, it was strange because you are so busy with your season right after the Indy 500 you don’t really get much time to sit back and think about what you had accomplished,” Ericsson said. “It was the offseason before I really realized what I had done.”

The permanent trophy remains on display at Indianapolis Motor Speedway but has been known to travel with the winning driver on special tours, such as the Nov. 3-7 trip to Sweden.

“It’s been incredible to see the amount of interest in me and the IndyCar Series and the Indy 500,” Ericsson said. “The trophy tour with the Borg-Warner Trophy we did in November really made a huge impact in Sweden. I was on every TV show, morning TV, magazines, newspapers, everywhere. People are talking about IndyCar racing. People are talking about Marcus Ericsson. It’s been huge.

“I was back in Sweden last month for the Swedish Sports Awards and I finished third in the Sports Performance of the Year. Motorsports is usually not even nominated there, and I finished third. That says a lot about the interest and support I’ve gotten back home in Sweden.”


Ericsson continued to reap the rewards of his Indianapolis 500 victory last week at the lavish Thermal Club, about a 45-minute drive from Palm Springs, California.

Earlier in the day before the Baby Borg presentation, Ericsson, and Chip Ganassi were among the 27 car-driver combinations that completed the first day of IndyCar’s “Spring Training” on the 17-turn, 3.067-mile road course. The next day, Ericsson turned the test’s fastest lap.

The 32-year-old still seems to be riding the wave, along with his girlfriend, Iris Tritsaris Jondahl, a Greece native who also lived in Sweden and now lives with Ericsson in Indianapolis.

“Today, receiving my Baby Borg, it was another thing of making it real,” Ericsson said. “It’s not a dream. It’s reality. To get the Baby Borg and bring it home. My girlfriend, Iris, and I are house hunting, looking for a house in Indianapolis. It will definitely have a very special place in our new home.”

Marcus Ericsson and girlfriend Iris Tritsaris Jondahlc share a kiss at the Baby Borg presentation (Mike Levitt/LAT Images/BorgWarner).

Ericsson told NBC Sports his most cherished trophy before getting his Baby Borg was for his first NTT IndyCar Series win in the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix in 2021.

“It was such a huge win for me and such a huge breakthrough for me and my career,” he said. “After that, it catapulted me into a top driver in IndyCar.”

The Brickyard win was another level for Ericsson, who moved to Ganassi in 2020.

“Marcus kept himself in the race all day,” Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull told NBC Sports. “Anybody that ran a race like Marcus ran, maybe you deserve the race win, but you don’t always get it. Marcus did everything that it took, and we are really, really proud of him.”

Ericsson also proved last year to be one of the best oval drivers in the series, a much different form of racing than he experienced until he came to the United States.

“Racing in Europe and around the world, I always liked high-speed corners,” he explained. “It was always my favorite. I always had this idea if I go to IndyCar and race on the ovals, it is something that would suit me and my driving style. I was always excited to try that. When I came to IndyCar and started to drive on ovals, I liked it straight away. It worked for me and my style.

“The first few attempts at Indy, I had good speed, but it was always some small mistakes that got me out of contention. I learned from them. I’m very proud I was able to pull it off, but it was a lot of hard work behind that.”

Michelle Collins of BorgWarner presented Baby Borgs to Marcus Ericsson and Chip Ganassi at a ceremony also attended by Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull (Mike Levitt/LAT Images/BorgWarner).

The victory in the Indianapolis 500 is etched in history, as is Ericsson’s face on the trophy.

“It’s such a special thing,” the driver said. “The BorgWarner people and IndyCar and everyone at IMS, I get to experience so many cool things since winning the Indy 500. It’s a win that keeps on giving. It never ends. It still does.

“I can’t wait to get back to Indianapolis, the month of May, as the champion. I still have to pinch myself. It’s a dream, for sure.”

Ganassi doesn’t have to pinch himself — all he needs to do is look at his collection of Baby Borgs.

His first Indy 500 win — as a team co-owner with Pat Patrick — came in 1989 with Emerson Fittipaldi’s thrilling duel against Al Unser Jr.

In 1990, Ganassi formed Chip Ganassi Racing. Juan Pablo Montoya won the Indianapolis 500 in 2000, Scott Dixon in 2008, Dario Franchitti in 2010 and 2012 and Ericsson in 2022.

“It’s a feather in the team’s cap for sure just to have our representation on the Borg-Warner Trophy with five other drivers,” Ganassi said. “It’s a testament to the team, a testament to Mike Hull that runs the team in Indianapolis. I just feel really lucky to be a part of it. It’s great to work with a great team of great people.

“Just to relive that moment again and again never gets old; never goes away. I’m really lucky to be in the position I’m in. It’s an honor to represent the team with the great people that it took to bring Marcus across the finish line. He and I get to celebrate events like this, but it’s really about the people at Chip Ganassi Racing in Indianapolis that pull this all together.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500