Ericsson Climbs to Top Late as Sebring Test Finishes

SEBRING, Fla. (Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024) – It appears Marcus Ericsson is settling in nicely at Andretti Global.

2022 Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge winner Ericsson led the second day of NTT INDYCAR SERIES testing Feb. 27 at Sebring International Raceway, turning a top lap of 51.9512 seconds in the No. 28 Delaware Life Honda. Ericsson joins Andretti Global this season after racing the last four seasons for Chip Ganassi Racing.

His time on the bumpy, 1.67-mile circuit at Sebring was the quickest overall in two days of testing this week as every NTT INDYCAR SERIES team prepared for the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding on Sunday, March 10 (noon ET, NBC, Peacock, INDYCAR Radio Network). Ericsson won the St. Petersburg race last year.

“Today is very important, especially when you’re in a new team,” Ericsson said. “It’s been a lot of learning processes, learning the people, learning the car. Everything is new, obviously. We don’t get a lot of tests these days. So, we need to maximize that.

“We just had a really good day. So, that’s positive, and we’re feeling excited about going to St. Pete.”

Two-time series champion Will Power was second quickest at 52.0076 in the No. 12 Verizon Business Team Penske Chevrolet. Like Ericsson, Power turned his top lap in the final 15 minutes of the session.

Pato O’Ward was third with his best afternoon lap of 52.0104 in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet. O’Ward showed remarkable consistency today, leading the morning session at 52.0158.

Felix Rosenqvist ended up fourth at 52.0305 in the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing Honda. Rosenqvist, like fellow Swede Ericsson, has switched teams this season, shifting from Arrow McLaren to Meyer Shank Racing.

Graham Rahal rounded out the top five at 52.0598 in the No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda.

Each of the top five drivers Tuesday posted times quicker than the best overall lap Monday, 52.0883 by reigning series champion Alex Palou in the No. 10 DHL Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Palou ended up sixth on the overall speed chart.

Twelve drivers combined to turn 698 laps Tuesday. A total of 27 drivers tested over the two days at the historic circuit, turning a total of 2,115 laps. Sebring’s rough, bumpy surface consisting of concrete and asphalt is a good simulation of street course tracks like those at St. Petersburg.

“Basically, what you’re looking for is just different types of patches, concrete, asphalt, bumpy,” O’Ward said. “That’s what you get in a street course with the years that go by. Some surfaces get rougher, some of them get redone, so you really don’t know what to expect until you get there, but you expect to get a little bit of everything.”

A driver gaining extra attention today was sports car veteran Colin Braun, who was behind the wheel of the No. 51 Dale Coyne Racing Honda. It was the first test in an INDYCAR SERIES car for Texas native Braun, 35, a three-time IMSA season champion and overall winner of the 2023 Rolex 24 At Daytona with Indianapolis 500 winners Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud and current NTT INDYCAR SERIES rookie Tom Blomqvist.

Braun and Jack Harvey tested this week for DCR, the only team yet to name its driver lineup for this season. Braun ended up .1597 of a second quicker than Harvey, who drove DCR’s No. 18 Honda on Monday. Braun’s best lap was just .9657 of a second off the top overall test time turned by Ericsson, impressive for his first day in an INDYCAR SERIES car.

“My first day in (INDYCAR SERIES machinery), certainly a blast jumping in the deep end,” Braun said. “A lot to learn, but it was great having Jack Harvey here helping out, and these guys did a really good job of walking me down the path and letting me learn step by step. It was fun.

“Made progress all day. It felt like it went pretty smooth on my end. Still a lot to learn, but it’s a great group of guys to learn from and work with. So, a big thank you to Honda and Dale Coyne for giving me a chance here. A lot of fun.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

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