Advertisement

Why the Andretti/Ericsson deal is a good fit for both sides

Andretti Autosport went searching for an Indianapolis 500 winner and veteran voice to add to those of its young stars, and found exactly what it was looking for in Marcus Ericsson.

Ericsson was searching for validation with a team that saw him as worthy of being paid to drive its race cars, and while Andretti wasn’t his only suitor, he found exactly what he wanted in an outfit that valued his ability to make the team better than it is today.

Together, the confirmed trio of Ericsson, Colton Herta, and Kyle Kirkwood is a powerful one, and in the Swede, who turns 33 next week, Andretti’s receiving someone who is easygoing but is also eager to prove he’s capable of winning in something other than a Chip Ganassi Racing entry.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I think ‘complement’ is the right word to use for Marcus,” Andretti COO Rob Edwards told RACER. “When Kyle was getting ready to join us towards the end of last year, he said, ‘What can I do to get ready?’ And I said, ‘Become Colton’s best friend.’ Because the more that they can work together, the better it’s going to be. And I just think Marcus is another piece to that.

“He’s got some complementary skills and some pieces that I think he can help the other guys in some ways. And the other guys can obviously help him and it’ll be a good mix amongst the three of them.”

With the recent departures of team leaders Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi, Herta, at 23, and Kirkwood, at 24, were thrust into greater leadership positions along with Romain Grosjean and Devlin DeFrancesco. In Ericsson, who raced alongside established Ganassi champions in Scott Dixon and Alex Palou, Andretti welcomes a driver who also wants to show he can guide a major IndyCar program without being in the shadow of others.

“I think they all lead in their own way,” Edwards said. “Kyle’s impressed us with his work ethic. Colton has been great with the new additions to the team, making them feel part of the team. With Marcus, age isn’t a defining attribute, but you have to look at how he’s elevated his game over the last few years.”

And with its last Indy 500 win being recorded in 2017, Andretti’s onboarding someone who knows the fastest way around the Speedway, which should make an impact in May.

“You have to look at Indianapolis, obviously, between the win and finishing second this year,” Edwards said. “He’s clearly got a really good handle on that. So we’re really looking for the three of them to feed off each other to maintain the strength that we’ve got, which is particularly street courses recently and, to a lesser extent, road courses. I think we need to elevate on the ovals and Penske is the benchmark on ovals. And we certainly need to focus on that and see Marcus as someone that can definitely help us there.”

The enthusiasm for what Andretti has in its new lineup is felt throughout the team.

“When you look at Penske and Ganassi, they’ve had a group of great drivers that all complement each other and work well together for multiple years, and that’s the intention with what we’re putting together with Marcus and Colton and Kyle,” Edwards said.