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Rookie mistake collects Marcus Ericsson in early crash, knocking 2022 Indy champ out of 500

IndyCar Indy 500 Auto Racing
Posted at 5:41 PM, May 26, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Marcus Ericsson's challenging May ended quickly Sunday afternoon.

The 2022 Indianapolis 500 winner and 2023 runner-up was knocked out of this year's race before completing an official lap when rookie Tom Blomqvist's car got too low on the rumble strip coming through the first turn of the first lap, spun up the track and hit Ericsson's No. 28 Honda.

Pietro Fittipaldi also was knocked out in the crash just moments after a four-hour rain delay ended.

"I can't believe it, it's unbelievable," the Swedish driver said after being checked, cleared and released from the infield medical center. "It's so frustrating. We were fighting all last weekend. We were fighting so hard, and I can't believe it. I just can't believe it."

Ericsson's struggles began May 16 when he made a similar mistake in practice. Andretti Global crew members scrambled to get Ericsson's No. 28 Honda back for qualifying last weekend.

When Ericsson failed to earn a top-30 starting spot May 18, he returned last Sunday as one of four drivers fighting for three open spots. But on his first attempt in the second round of qualifying, Ericsson mistakenly thought the third of his four laps was actually his final lap and slowed down so much he was bumped off the starting grid.

He waited impatiently for nearly 45 minutes before making his final attempt and earning the No. 32 starting spot. And then Sunday, he found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"Obviously, not a lot," Blomqvist said when asked about what he experienced in his first 500 start. "I'm just so disappointed for the guys."

Blomqvist was driving for Meyer Shank Racing. Fittipaldi was driving for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

Two Honda drivers also suffered early engine failures — Marcus Armstrong of Chip Ganassi Racing and Dale Coyne Racing's Katherine Legge, the only woman in the starting field.