INDYCAR Photo by Joe Skibinski

Chip Ganassi Racing expands to three cars with addition of Marcus Ericsson

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Chip Ganassi Racing will become “Team Sweden” next season in the NTT IndyCar Series season as both drivers from the Scandinavian country will be part of a three-car IndyCar team in 2020. Marcus Ericsson, who showed flashes of promise as a rookie at Arrow Schmidt Peterson this past season, joins fellow Swedish driver and 2019 IndyCar Rookie of the Year Felix Rosenqvist at team owner chip Ganassi’s team.

Five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion and 2008 Indianapolis 500 winning driver Scott Dixon of New Zealand is the lead driver on that team with 46 career victories, third on the all-time list.

Ericsson, 29, is a former Formula One driver with 97 career F1 starts in his career before coming to IndyCar last season. He will drive the team’s third car, the No. 8 Honda.

“First of all, I’m extremely happy and proud to get the opportunity to join Chip Ganassi Racing. It’s a team of winners and their history speaks for itself,” Ericsson said. “I’m very thankful that they believe in me and I will do everything I can to make 2020 another successful year for the team. I’m also very excited to work with two of the best drivers in the series in Scott and Felix. I’m looking forward to putting what I’ve learned this year to use in my second year in the NTT IndyCar Series.”

Ericsson had a one-year contract with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. That team is in the midst of a merger with McLaren to become Arrow McLaren Racing SP and indicated that Ericsson would not be part of the team’s lineup in 2020.

Team owner Chip Ganassi saw promise in the driver from Kumla, Sweden and decided to expand to a third entry in order to utilize his team and crew from the Ford GT sports car program that will conclude at the end of this season.

 “I think Marcus brings a lot of unique experience with him having competed in several championships around the world,” Ganassi said. “When you have someone with that type of background, it gives him other points of reference that helps his ability to develop and add to the overall racing program. We’re looking forward to seeing what Marcus can do alongside Scott and Felix.”

In his rookie year in the NTT IndyCar Series, Ericsson scored his first-ever podium with a career-best finish of second in Detroit. He also had six laps led on the season and completed 88.5 percent of the laps run.

Prior to his rookie season in INDYCAR in 2019, Ericsson most recently completed his fifth year in Formula 1 in 2018 with a total of 97 starts. The Kumla, Sweden native is a two-time champion (Formula BMW UK, 2007; Japanese Formula Three, 2009), and has twice claimed the Swedish Junior Racer of the Year award (2007, 2009). Prior to that he competed in British Formula Three, GP2 Asia and GP2.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500 

New study surveys drivers’ opinions on crashes, concussions, more

James Black/IndyCar
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Auto racing safety has continued to improve through the decades, but the sport remains inherently dangerous, according to a new survey.

At the close of 2018, a new organization called Racing Safety United emerged with the intention of reducing drivers’ risk of being harmed.

RSU is made up of more than 30 members including former NASCAR Cup Series competitor Jerry Nadeau, two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Randy LaJoie, NHRA team owner Don Schumacher and motorsports journalist Dick Berggren.

One of RSU’s first initiatives was to determine what current drivers thought of racing safety. The organization developed a 14-question survey and promoted it on select motorsports websites and forums. 

Participants were given the opportunity to disclose their identity or remain anonymous, and those who provided contact information were entered to win a $500 prize (for anonymous participants, the prize funds would be donated to a motorsports charity). 

More than 140 individuals participated in the survey over the course of 12 months. Below are the results of the survey:

Driver status

The vast majority of survey participants (60%) were amateur racers, while 26% of the participants were classified as Semi-Pro/Professional racers. The remaining 14% consisted of other individuals involved in the sport such as team owners and crew chiefs. 

When asked how frequently they race, 58% of driver respondents averaged 10 or more times per year on track, while 42% averaged 10 times or less.

The top five tracks respondents said they raced most often: Road Atlanta (21 votes), Watkins Glen (17 votes), Virginia International Raceway (16 votes), Mid-Ohio (16 votes), and Road America (13 votes).

Vehicular damage, injuries common

Over a third of respondents said they had been injured while racing, and almost two-thirds sasid they had suffered severe vehicle damage while racing

Driver error was cited as the top cause of vehicle damage (42 mentions), followed by concrete walls (26 mentions), mechanical failures (24 mentions), and other drivers (19 mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for better driver training/coaching, energy absorbing walls, and more technical inspections.

Almost a quarter of drivers said they had experienced racing-related concussions, and nearly half the respondents said one or multiple concussions would affect their decision to race in the future. 

Drivers primarily influenced by peers 

Roughly half the drivers said they would consider adopting new safety equipment if influenced by another driver (51 total mentions) and/or if recommended by a sanctioning body (47 total mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for drivers to become safety advocates and educate other drivers and for sanctioning bodies to mandate safety equipment. 

Drivers concerned with concrete walls

Approximately three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said they believed certain race tracks were more dangerous than others. Nearly half the drivers surveyed believe that concrete walls were the primary cause of damage to drivers and vehicles. 

Drivers willing to help

Just more than three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said that they would be willing to join a safety alliance to advocate for safer tracks. Two-thirds of drivers said that they also would be willing to contribute to a motorsports safety fund.

Click here for the full results of RSU’s survey

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