NEWTON, IA – Marcus Ericsson’s confidence is building by the week. See, the Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports rookie is getting more and more comfortable in his No. 7 Honda by the day. The Swedish driver came to the United States this past winter without ever having raced at most of the race tracks on the NTT IndyCar Series schedule before.
Now, the schedule takes him to middle America – Newton, Iowa to be exact. This is a track where Ericsson never would have dreamed at racing before. He grew up racing in Europe and spent a few seasons racing in Formula One. Now, he’s at a race track surrounded by cornfields.
Plus, this week is his first on a short oval. His previous two oval experiences came on big superspeedway’s. This track, is less than a mile in length. That in itself has produced some challenges for the rookie driver.
“You keep turning all the time,” laughed Ericsson after qualifying his car 10th for Saturday’s Iowa 300 (7 p.m. ET/NBCSN/INDYCAR Radio Network). “It’s like one long corner. The difficult thing I find here is, you don’t have time to think about what the car is doing between the corners. At Indy and Texas, you do two corners then have a straight to think about how was the car and can I change with the tools that I have. Here, it goes by so fast and so intense. It’s quite hard. You’re constantly side-by-side with someone it feels like.
“It’s very different. Obviously, coming to a place like this is something very different than what I’ve experienced. “It’s fun. There’s a lot of character in this track.”
Ericsson, says that while he’s 16th in the series standings, this series is where true racers are found. If you want to be a champion, you have to do so on a wide variety of race tracks.
“What I’ve found this year in the IndyCar Series is as a driver you have to be so versatile,” Ericsson continued. “You have to master road courses, street courses, superspeedway’s, short ovals, it’s just all different types of racing. To really be running up front in this championship requires a lot of you from a driver perspective.”
With that being said, Ericsson is showing why he deserves a second season in the series. While he’s a free agent for 2020, he’s hoping to come back to SPM next year. He says that his results prove that if you give him a second look on these race tracks, look how good he can do.
“I think if you look a bit into more detail, every track that I have tested on before I’ve been really strong at later on the race weekend. In Detroit, I got my first podium in the second race of the race weekend. Here, we tested and I feel like we had a good practice and quali. I think it just goes to show with some experience in the track, I can really be running strong. That’s something I’m saying to the team as well. Look at what I can do with experience. Lets see if I get the chance next year. I really hope so.”
He’s right too.
He saw COTA before and was a top 10 car before having an issue on his final pit stop. He tested at Barber and finished seventh. He tested in the INDYCAR Grand Prix and qualified ninth. He tested on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval and had a top 10 car before a pit road incident. He tested at Texas and finished seventh. He raced for a second time in as many days in Detroit and finished runner-up.
He tested at Iowa and….