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 

Red Bull driver Verstappen wins Formula One’s Brazilian GP

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Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won Formula One’s Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday for his eighth career victory in a race which ended disastrously for both Ferrari drivers.

Verstappen controlled nearly all the race at Interlagos, which saw a dramatic late collision between Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc when they fought for the fourth position. Both failed to finish.

Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly got his first F1 podium after finishing second ahead of six-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton. The Mercedes driver was third but faces an investigation after an incident that caused Red Bull’s Alexander Albon to spin.

Hamilton, who won at Interlagos in 2018, said Verstappen was “just quicker than us on the straights” and “there was nothing more we could do.”

Dutch driver Verstappen said “Lewis was very quick so I had to keep pushing… we had two good moves with him, and from there onward I could control the race.”

McLaren’s Carlos Sainz was fourth, and could be promoted to third if Hamilton is punished.

The Brazilian GP on Sunday was the penultimate race of the season, with only Abu Dhabi left on Dec.1.

Hamilton had already secured the season title in the previous race in the United States. His Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, who did not finish the race, had also secured the runner-up spot.