Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson in contract stalemate with team owner Chip Ganassi


INDIANAPOLIS — Few drivers have experienced a bigger boost from winning the Indy 500 than Marcus Ericsson, who has truly turned last year’s victory into a life-changing event but still is seeking his next contract.

Not only did it resurrect the Swede’s career, which had stalled after five seasons in Formula One, it also made Ericsson a bona fide superstar in both his native country and adopted hometown of Indianapolis.

But as Ericsson attempts to become the first back-to-back winner of the Indy 500 since Helio Castroneves 21 years ago, he does so without a contract in place for next year. It’s a maddening situation for Ericsson, who has been clear he wants to remain with Chip Ganassi Racing but whose phone is ringing with options from rival teams.

At issue is Ericsson’s seat at Ganassi is funded by a sponsor he brought to the team along with support from Swedish billionaire Finn Rausing, who has long backed Ericsson’s career. Essentially, Ericsson pays to drive the No. 8 car – a slight he made clear moments after winning the Indy 500 last season, when one of his first remarks was: “Not bad for a pay driver.”

Ganassi holds exclusive negotiating rights with Ericsson until August, when the driver formally can talk to other teams, so that has given him time to hear what others in the paddock have to say.

“I’ve noticed my phone being quite busy the last few months, and teams being pretty interested in my future. That’s definitely a new thing for me. It feels like people are taking notice and rating me as a driver, and that feels great,” Ericsson said. “I have great support from Sweden and my backers and sponsors and everything, and I’ve had that all my career, and I’m very, very thankful of that.

“But I feel where I am now in my career, and what I’ve achieved, that shouldn’t be like, the reason why I’m hired. I think what’s important for me is I should be hired for the skills I have as a driver, and not for the potential sponsor I can bring or not bring to the team.”

His contract status is among the biggest talking points heading into this weekend’s Indy 500 qualifying.

For the second year in a row, the Ganassi lineup has shown it is the strongest team through the opening practice rounds, with Ericsson the fastest on the overall speed chart Thursday and also logging the fastest lap without an aerodynamic tow from another car.

But when Ganassi showed up for his annual media briefing traditionally held on “Fast Friday,” the contract status of Ericsson was just about the last thing the team owner wanted to discuss.

“Yeah, I want him to stay. Yeah, I’m working hard to do it,” Ganassi said. “I’m not a big guy to be talking about our deals or our contracts or anything, but Marcus has a big future in the sport, and I want it to be on this team, sure.”

Pressing him yielded little more information, and Ganassi actually seemed to grow annoyed by the line of questioning, even as Ericsson sat stone-faced two seats over.

“We just need to finalize some sponsorship, and away we go,” Ganassi said.

Is that close to happening?

“I think we are, yeah,” Ganassi replied.

But is he prepared to lose Ericsson at the end of the season? Particularly with 2021 champion Alex Palou likely set to leave Ganassi’s No. 10 car for McLaren Racing.

“Here’s what we’re doing today,” Ganassi said. “We’re focusing on today right now. OK? I’m not here to talk about my drivers and their contracts. I’m here to talk about Fast Friday and qualifying on Saturday and Sunday. All the drivers are valued pieces of the team, and I want them all here today, I want them here tomorrow, I want them here next week, I want them here next year.”

And that was all Ganassi said on that subject.

That leaves a tricky situation for Ericsson, who used last year’s Indy 500 win to challenge for the IndyCar title.

Then he won this year’s season opener, was IndyCar points leader after three of the first five races and has a No. 8 Dallara-Honda that’s been among the fastest this week.

Despite his IndyCar success and five seasons in F1, Ericsson never has been a highly compensated driver. He also turns 33 in September and figures this is his last opportunity to sign a lucrative contract.

So he rightfully wants to be paid in the seven-figure range, just like teammate Scott Dixon, Josef Newgarden or Colton Herta.

None of them brings sponsorship to their race team, and many believe that Herta, who finished 10th in the final IndyCar standings last year, became the highest-paid driver on the grid when he signed an offseason extension at Andretti Autosport.

Not having a deal done for 2024 upon his return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway has frustrated Ericsson, but he insisted it won’t detract from his goal of winning the Indy 500 again.

“It would have been nice to have them worked out before already now obviously, but that’s not been the case,” he said. “I just have to focus on delivering on track. I feel I’ve done a strong start to the year, and that should hopefully help my case. I’m not stressed about it. I feel there is a lot of teams interested if Chip is not.”

Motocross 2023: Results and points after season opener at Fox Raceway


It was not the first time it has been done, but a rider winning in his Motocross debut is rare as the results show Jett Lawrence swept the motos at Fox Raceway in Pala, California and took the early points lead.

Dylan Ferrandis may not be quite 100 percent yet, but he was good enough to finish on the podium at Fox Raceway – Align Media

Lawrence became the 16th rider to win in his Motocross debut and was the 10th rider to do so in the season opener, At 19, he wasn’t the youngest to perform the feat; Rick Johnson was 17 in 1982 when he won the lidlifter at Hangtown, the site of next week’s race, but Lawrence’s inaugural win bodes well. The last time a rider performed this feat, Dylan Ferrandis went on to win the 2021 Motocross championship as a rookie in 2021.

Ferrandis did not sweep the motos that season while Lawrence’s performance on Saturday was perfect. He paced both practice sessions, earned the holeshot in each race and finished first in both motos after leading every lap to score maximum points. Lawrence started the weekend needing 85 points to climb into 20th in the combined SuperMotocross standings for the 450 class. Earning 50 with his perfect Motocross results at Fox Raceway, he is nearly 60 percent of the way to his goal.

RESULTS: Click here for full 450 Results; Click here for 250 Results

Chase Sexton was second across the board. He qualified in the second position and finished 2-2 in his motos. In the first race, he was a relatively distant runner-up behind Lawrence, crossing the finish line a little more than 10 seconds ahead. He got a great start in Moto 2 and pushed Lawrence for the entire race, never getting further back than three seconds. He tried to pressure Lawrence into making a mistake, but both riders hardly put a wheel wrong and they finished within a second of one another.

Returning from a concussion suffered in the Houston Supercross race earlier this season and exacerbated at Daytona, Ferrandis finished third in both motos to take third overall. His most important task at hand this week was to avoid trouble and start the Motocross season healthy at Fox Raceway so he can begin to accumulate strong results and move up in SuperMotocross points.

Ferrandis entered this round 25th in the standings and left Pala in 19th. With that position, he has an automatic invitation to the feature starting grid in the SuperMotocross World Championship as long as he does not fall back.

Click here for 450 Moto 1 [Lap Chart] | Moto 2 [Lap Chart] | Consolation Race

Aaron Plessinger and Cooper Webb both ended the race with 34 points, but Plessinger had the tiebreaker with a better finish in the second race. Notably, both riders sustained injury sometime during the season, but Plessinger had an advantage by coming back a week sooner in Salt Lak City for the Supercross finale. He finished second in that race.

Webb was cleared late in the week by doctors after being on concussion protocol from a vicious strike to his helmet in a Nashville Supercross heat race late in the season. He made a beeline to the track to run the Motocross opener. After missing last year’s outdoor season, he wanted to make certain that did not happen again. He still has a solid opportunity to catch Sexton for the No. 1 overall seed in the SuperMotocross standings., but he will need to make up 78 points.

Click here for 450 Overall results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points

For the first time in history, Pro Motocross results from Fox Raceway show brothers as winners on the same day.

Battling a rib injury suffered practicing earlier in the week, Hunter Lawrence got a poor start to Moto 1 and had to overcome his 10th-place standing at the end of Lap 1. He methodically worked his way toward the front but might have settled for a position off the podium if not for heavy traffic in the closing laps. Lawrence was able to get through the field quicker than Justin Cooper and Jo Shimoda to finish third.

Hunter Lawrence overcame sore ribs to score the overall 250 win at Fox Raceway – Align Media

Lawrence’s second moto was much stronger. He earned the holeshot and led all 15 laps of the race to win by a more than eight seconds.

Haiden Deegan didn’t feel any pressure heading into this round. No one expected much in his third Motocross National and he would have been happy with anything in the top five. At least that’s what he said in the post-race news conference. Deegan said similar things after finishing fourth in his first Supercross race this season. In a stacked field of 40 riders at Fox Raceway, “Danger Boy” finished sixth in Moto 1 and second in Moto 2 for the second-place finish overall.

Click here for 250 Moto 1 [Lap Chart] | Moto 2 [Lap Chart] | Consolation Race

In only his third Pro Motocross National, Haiden Deegan finished second overall. – Align Media

RJ Hampshire had an eventful weekend. He dominated Moto 1 and won by a healthy margin, making a statement about how he will race now that Jett Lawrence is no longer in the field. He was a victim of mayhem in Turn 2 of Moto 2, which forced him to the ground. Another crash on an uphill portion of the track later that same lap put him in 39th. Hampshire salvaged as many points as he could and finished 11th in the second race to stand on the final box of the podium.

Tom Vialle came within a lap of scoring his first career podium. He had the position based on a tiebreaker over Justin Cooper and Maximus Vohland until Hampshire passed two riders on the final lap and earned one point more than that threesome. Instead, Vialle settled for his first podium in an individual moto with a 7-3 in the two races. More accustomed to this style of racing, Vialle will be a factor in the coming rounds.

Click here for 250 Overall results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points

Cooper finished with a 5-4 in the two motos to sweep the top five and take fourth-place overall. Cooper started five rounds in the 450 class in Supercross this season and none on a 250, so he is starting with zero points in the SuperMotocross seeding, but with runs like this it won’t take long to make up the 89 he needs to climb to 20th.

One of the best performances of the weekend was put in by Vohland. He finished second in Moto 1 and had to withstand pressure from Lawrence in the closing lap. A poor start of 16th in the second race forced him to play catchup and he could only climb to ninth at the checkers.

2023 Supercross Results

Round 17: Chase Sexton, Jett Lawrence win
Round 16: Chase Sexton, RJ Hampshire win
Round 15: Chase Sexton, Hunter Lawrence win
Round 14: Justin Barcia, Max Anstie win
Round 13: Chase Sexton, Hunter Lawrence win
Round 12: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 11: Eli Tomac bounces back with sixth win
Round 10: Chace Sexton wins, penalized
Round 9: Ken Roczen wins
Round 8: Eli Tomac wins 7th Daytona
Round 7: Cooper Webb wins second race
Race 6: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Race 5: Webb, Hunter Lawrence win
Race 4: Eli Tomac, Hunter Lawrence win
Race 3: Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen win
Race 2: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 1: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings

Week 16: Chase Sexton takes SX title
Week 15: Eli Tomac is back on top
Week 14: Justin Barcia, most of top 20, hold steady
Week 13: Barcia leapfrogs the Big Three
Week 12: Eli Tomac gains momentum
Week 11: Cooper Webb, Tomac overtake Chase Sexton
Week 10: Sexton leads with consistency
Week 8: Sexton unseats Tomac
Week 7: Jason Anderson narrowly trails Tomac
Week 6: Perfect Oakland night keeps Tomac first
Week 5: Webb, Sexton close gap
Week 4: Tomac retakes lead
Week 3: Ken Roczen takes the top spot
Week 2: Roczen moves up; Sexton falls
Week 1: Tomac tops 450s; Jett Lawrence 250s