Marcus Ericsson makes his mark in NTT INDYCAR SERIES season opener, late-race pass seals victory at Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
Teammate Scott Dixon claims third for Honda and Chip Ganassi Racing
Graham Rahal runs sixth in strong opening-race performance
Taking advantage of a late-race opportunity, Marcus Ericsson moved past race leader Pato O’Ward to take the victory in Sunday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Moving into the lead with just four laps remaining in the 100-lap contest, Ericsson claimed his fourth career INDYCAR win and his first since winning last year’s Indianapolis 500.
The stage was set for an incident-filled race shortly after the green flag, when a multi-car pileup exiting Turn 3 led to a red flag. After approximately 19 minutes, the race resumed, but the caution flag would wave five more times for various incidents throughout the 100-lap contest.
Ericsson’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, six-time series champion Scott Dixon, rounded out the St. Petersburg podium with a well-judged run to third; while veteran Graham Rahal jumped from 20th on the starting grid to sixth at the finish following an overnight brake change aboard his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda.
Today’s win for Ericsson and Honda is also the first in a major racing series using 100% renewable fuel. The second-generation ethanol supplied to the full INDYCAR field by Shell provides a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and does not impact the food chain.
In addition to the Shell 100% renewable race fuel, the St. Petersburg race also featured the 2023 debut of Firestone Firehawk race tires made with natural guayule natural rubber grown and extracted at the company’s R&D facility in Arizona. Featuring a green sidewall, the guayule served as the softer “alternate” tire for this weekend’s INDYCAR race.
With today’s win by Marcus Ericsson, Honda-powered drivers have now won 11 of the 19 NTT INDYCAR SERIES races at St. Petersburg since the event was revived for the 2005 season. The late Dan Wheldon led a Honda and Andretti Green Racing sweep of the top four positions in the inaugural 2005 event; while Colton Herta dominated in 2021 for Honda and Andretti Autosport.
Other Honda winners on the streets of St. Petersburg include local resident Sebastian Bourdais in 2017-18; Helio Castroneves in 2006 and ’07; Graham Rahal in 2008; Team Penske’s Ryan Briscoe and Will Power in 2009 and ’10, respectively; and Dario Franchitti in 2011.