Sweden's Marcus Ericsson wins 106th Indianapolis 500

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Sweden's Marcus Ericsson won the 106th Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, holding off Mexico's Pato O'Ward in a two-lap shootout after a late red flag halted the race.

Chip Ganassi driver Ericsson was leading O'Ward by more than a second when Jimmie Johnson's crash with five laps remaining brought out the red flag in the 200-lap classic at the famed 2.5-mile (4km) Indy oval.

"Those 10 minutes sitting there in the pit lane during that red flag was some of the hardest 10 minutes of my life," Ericsson said.

When the green flag waved for full-speed racing with two laps remaining, Ericsson repelled O'Ward's attempt to pass early on the final lap to claim the victory.

"Pato had a really good run on me," Ericsson said. "I just kept my foot down and that was the race-winning move. He made me work for it, for sure."

Ericsson became the second Swede to win the race after Kenny Brack in 1999.

Brazil's Tony Kanaan grabbed third place for Ganassi as teammate Scott Dixon endured another Indy 500 heartbreak after starting from pole.

New Zealand veteran Dixon, who won from pole in 2008, led much of the race but was handed a pit lane speed violation penalty on his final pit stop with 23 laps remaining.

"Come on! Are you serious?" Dixon could be heard yelling into his radio as he was informed of the violation that sent him to the back of the pack.

It marked the fourth time that Dixon -- a six-time IndyCar series champion -- had started from pole and failed to win the fabled race.

He has been runner-up three times.

"It's heartbreaking," Dixon said. "I came into the pit and had to lock the rears and kind of locked all four. I knew it was going to be close. I think it was a mile an hour over or something.

"Just frustrating. I just messed up."

While Ganassi had five cars starting in the first four rows on Sunday, Ericsson wasn't looking like the likeliest team driver to win for most of the day.

Dixon and Spanish teammate Alex Palou traded the lead early before a pit lane penalty ended Palou's chances.

Ericsson notched his third career IndyCar victory after winning at Detroit and Nashville last year.

He was in control with five laps remaining when US stock car great Johnson, making his Indianapolis 500 debut, hit the wall in turn three, scattering debris across the track.

Organizers, not wanting to finish the race under a yellow flag caution, brought out the red flag to bring the drivers into the pits.

"I couldn't believe it," Ericsson said. "I was praying so hard it was not going to be another yellow."

Even with the restart giving him a chance to pass Ericsson, O'Ward said he simply didn't have the necessary speed.

- 'Just a bummer' -

"He was going to put me in the wall if I would have gone for it," he said. "We were alongside of each other. I'm so proud of the team and myself, we did everything to get it done.

"It's just a bummer, bummer we didn't have more."

Johnson's crash was one of several that brought out the caution flag.

British rookie Callum Ilott crashed heavily in turn two on lap 70. He walked away, suffering a right hand injury, but his misfortune brought damaging repercussions for Palou.

The Spaniard was following teammate Dixon into the pits when Ilott's crash brought out the yellow flag, closing pit lane.

Already committed to leaving the track but with pit lane closed, he was instructed to drive through. He had to make an emergency stop for fuel after one more lap and accept a penalty that dropped him to the back of the field that he had led for more than 40 laps.

Dutchman Rinus VeeKay and French rookie Romain Grosjean also crashed out in turn two.

VeeKay, who started from the front row for the second straight year, was running second when a fiery crash ended his day after 38 laps. He eventually stepped from the car under his own power.

Grosjean, who moved to IndyCar last season after his Formula One career ended with a frightening fiery crash, lost it in turn two after 105 laps, when gusting winds were picking up.

New Zealand's Scott McLaughlin said a gust of wind contributed to the crash that ended his day on the 151st lap.


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