Ericsson, Rosenqvist look to follow fellow Swede Kenny Bräck’s footsteps at Indy 500

Leave a comment

The Indianapolis 500 may be an American institution, but the prestigious race is known worldwide.

For more than a century, drivers from around the world have come to Indy with 22 winners from 12 countries outside the United States in the race’s 102 previous editions.

This year, two open-wheel veterans from Sweden are making their first Indy 500 starts. Formula One veteran Marcus Ericsson is behind the wheel of the No. 7 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Dallara-Honda, and  Formula E veteran Felix Rosenqvist is in the No. 10 Dallara-Honda of Chip Ganassi Racing.

THE 103RD INDIANAPOLIS 500: Click here for how to watch, full daily schedules

With two Swedes racing in the series full time, the level of interest in their home country has not been this high since Kenny Bräck became the first Swede to win the race in 1999.

“To be honest, IndyCar was very big from the late ’90’s to the beginning of the 2000’s when Kenny was over here and doing very well,” Ericsson told NBC Sports. “I remember watching on TV as a kid, and there was a lot of coverage of it in Sweden.”

Bräck competed in the Indy Racing League and CART full time from 1997-2003. The Swede was one of the most successful drivers at the time, with nine victories (including the ’99 Indy 500). He also won the 1998 IRL championship.

But in the final race of the 2003 IRL season at Texas Motor Speedway, Bräck would suffer serious injuries in a crash that nearly cost him his life when his car locked wheels with another, sending Bräck’s car into the catchfence.

Bräck would recover from his injuries and return to IndyCar one final time in the 2005 Indianapolis 500, but Ericsson said interest in the sport had evaporated in Sweden by then.

But with two Swedes making their debuts at the Brickyard, interest in IndyCar has been rekindled in the Scandinavian nation.

“Obviously, for me coming from Formula One, I had a lot of support from Sweden during my years in there and now I see pretty much all of the fans who followed me in F1 are following me in IndyCar,” Ericsson said.

“With Felix in the series on top of that, it just became super popular in Sweden now. I think all of the motorsport fans in Sweden are following the IndyCar Series now. It’s very good, and I’m very happy to receive that support from my country.”

Like Ericsson, Rosenqvist also has fond memories of watching Bräck race, and he could not be happier finally to have the chance to follow his footsteps.

“It’s something that I always strived to do. IndyCar is always something I’ve loved and followed very closely from Europe,” Rosenqvist said. “It’s definitely been a dream to go to IndyCar.”

“It almost seems like not only are there fans who used to follow Kenny, but there are also a lot of younger, new fans that are really into IndyCar as well. We have a very big following in Sweden.”

Ericsson will start Sunday’s race from the 13th position while Rosenqvist will start 29th. Though Rosenqvist would have liked to qualify closer to the front, he still is enthused to compete in his first Indy 500.

“It’s such a huge spectacle to be a part of,” Rosenqvist said.

“I think as the month goes on, you realize more what it’s all about. You have guys who have been telling you for weeks what it’s going to be like, what you have to pay attention to, and other things. But as you go on you realize you kind of experience everything yourself. It’s one of those races you’ve always wanted to take part of, and now it’s only a couple of days away.”

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter

Keating stripped of Le Mans GTE-Am win; No. 68 Ganassi entry also disqualified

IMSA
2 Comments

FIA stewards announced Monday that two Ford GT entries have been disqualified from this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, including the GTE-Am class-winning No. 85 entry from privateer Keating Motorsports.

Also DQ’d was the factory No. 68 Chip Ganassi Racing entry of Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais, which initially finished fourth in the GTE-Pro class.

Both entries were found in violation of fuel capacity regulations, with the No. 85 entry also failing to meet the minimum refueling time during pit stops.

The refueling system on the No. 85 entry, driven by Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga, measured a time of 44.4 seconds during a stop, just shy of the minimum required time of 45 seconds.

As a result, the team was initially issued a 55.2-second post-race penalty by officials, which elevated the No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR of Joerg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey, and Egidio Perfetti to the class win.

The time penalty was calculated by the difference in the refueling time (0.6 seconds) multiplied by the amount of pit stops made by the team (23), then multiplied by four.

The No. 85 entry was set to finish second in class, but then received an outright DQ after its fuel capacity was also revealed to be 0.1 liters above the maximum permitted capacity of 96 liters.

As for Ganassi’s No. 68 entry, it was found to have a fuel capacity of 97.83 liters, which is above the maximum allowed capacity of 97 liters for the GTE-Pro Fords.

The No. 67 Ford of Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell, and Jonathan Bomarito subsequently moves up to fourth, and the No. 69 Ford of Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook moves up to fifth.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter