Ericsson: “A combination of things” has led to strong start to 2023 IndyCar season

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The month of May has arrived for the IndyCar series. The drivers are set to begin their Indy 500 campaigns next week as practice starts for the iconic race.

Sweden’s Marcus Ericsson heads back to the famous Indiana venue as the defending Indy 500 champion, and he sits in the lead of the 2023 standings at present.

Photo credit: Penske Entertainment | Chris Owens

Speaking in a press conference at Indianapolis with selected media including Pit Debrief, the 32-year-old opened up on how it feels to return as the reigning winner of The Greatest spectacle in Racing.

“It feels amazing to be back here and be the defending winner,” stated the Swede. “It’s definitely a very special feeling. Driving in through the gates there, see the big banner, all those things, it’s very, very special.

“Just going to try to enjoy this month as much as possible, then really, yeah, just take in everything it gives me. Very excited to be here. Even before winning, it’s always so special to be in Indianapolis and at this place with all the history that goes into this.

“To be here as defending winner is extremely special.”

The Indy 500 is by far the biggest race on the IndyCar schedule. When asked what’s the most exciting moment of the whole month, the Swedish star went for waking up on the morning of the race and the driver intros shortly before the action gets underway.

“It’s our highlight of the year, super special to be here as the defending winner,” said Ericsson on his general emotions about the month of May.

“Yeah, can’t wait for the whole month, but I think especially that feeling on race day morning when you wake up and you know it’s the 500 race there. It’s just so special. Yeah, excited about that. Excited to see all the fans here. It’s always so cool to just interact with all the people here.

“I don’t know, driver intros for me for the 500, there’s something about it. For me that moment when you go out there in the driver intros, you look around, you see people, whatever direction you look at.

“Moments like that is what I think I’m looking forward to.”

Before the oval action kicks off, the drivers will be tackling the Indy road course at this weekend’s GMR Grand Prix. Ericsson has a best finish of P4 to date around this particular layout.

2023 has been a great start for the Swede following a really strong year for most of 2022.

Ericsson won the season opener at St. Pete, and he finished a strong P3 at Long Beach on a day when he was arguably the fastest driver. Top 10 finishes at Texas and Alabama has him at the top of the championship, 3 points ahead of Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward heading into Saturday’s race.

Ericsson believes a number of factors have contributed to his fantastic opening four rounds in this campaign. He has spoken about the fact he’s worked with a mental coach previously, and the results seem to be paying off nicely.

“I think it’s a few things. We worked really hard in the off-season to improve on an already strong 2022,” he said.

“I think us a team, the whole Chip Ganassi Racing organisation, I think we’ve really tried to improve the cars, just be better again.

“That’s the cool thing with Chip Ganassi Racing, they never stop, they always want more, always want to be better.

“I feel like we’ve taken some steps there. I feel like me on a personal side, I always try to work on myself and be better every year. I feel like I’ve taken some steps as a driver, as well.

“Yeah, I think it’s a combination of things.”