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IndyCar Indianapolis 500

Ericsson “can’t believe” he backed off on Indy 500 last-chance qualifying lap

Andretti Global’s Marcus Ericsson came within minutes of missing the cut for the Indianapolis 500 after making a horrendous error on his first run of the last-chance qualifier.

Marcus Ericsson, Andretti Global Honda

Photo by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images

Former F1 racer Ericsson, the 2022 Indy 500 winner, was on course to make the field when he backed off at the end of his third tour of the four-lap qualifying run.

After realizing his error, he got back up to speed but it was too late to set a representative speed.

That meant he had to sit in the pits, cooling his car, before a last-gasp final run which ended inside the final five minutes of the session – and sealed his 32nd position on the grid.

“It was tough for sure,” said Ericsson. “This was even harder than the last few years, especially after my mistake there on my first run when we were safely in – can’t believe I did that.

“Then I had to sit there and wait and think about that I had one shot to make the race. I had to hit that run; I knew the car was hot from the first run. We had to trim out, and the car has been really difficult to drive since my crash. It was a tough mental challenge.”

When asked by NBC Sports if anything had changed on the radio instructions to count him through the laps from the pitstand, Ericsson replied: “You live and learn right, but it was all on me.

“We’ve done the same all week, it feels like we’ve done 58 qualifying runs and it’s always been the same countdown. It’s on me, I messed that up and I shouldn’t be doing that with my experience.

“We’re going to change procedure on that for sure!”

Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Photo by: Josh Tons / Motorsport Images

His fellow last-chance qualifier Graham Rahal was also relieved to make the field – after his second year of facing an anxious wait to see if his speed was sufficient to make the field.

“We went to bed last night scratching our heads,” said Rahal. “A lot of questions that need to be answer and still do.

“We changed some componentry that we expected to go better, and we went slower today again, which is the fourth day in a row of speed loss. Setup really hasn't changed, we can see it in the data, but unfortunately, we've got to identify what the component is.

“We put on our road course gearbox, which I can guarantee nobody else is running. We just threw on some random uprights, and we tried to make it work, but we lost speed again.”

When asked if he was getting accustomed to the anxiety of potentially being bumped again, he replied: “It never feels calm. It never feels good.

“The way the rules are written for the LCQ, it's not favorable it on those on the bump. You can't move.

“If you pull out of line, you pull your time, you're not allowed to make the adjustments on the car that you would like to proactively.

“You've got to wait to see and then pull and go again.”

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