It took just a few seconds of the 2023 NTT IndyCar Season to have potentially the most wicked-looking crash that we’ll see all season.
On the opening lap of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, all hell broke loose. After wild three-wide racing heading into the first set of turns, Scott Dixon made contact with Felix Rosenqvist, which triggered several cars to spin, which caused the track to be blocked.
As a result, drivers like Devlin DeFrancesco had nowhere to go as chaos ensued.
DeFrancesco was stopped in the middle of the mess, as Benjamin Pedersen came through with nowhere to go and made huge contact with DeFrancesco, which sent the Canadian racer flying into the air.
Oh. My. Goodness… pic.twitter.com/siNEWrRhQk
— TobyChristie.com (@TobyChristieCom) March 5, 2023
Thankfully, DeFrancesco was evaluated and released from the medical center and was no worse for the wear.
“I’m fine,” DeFrancesco said. “I had a hard knock. Not the way we wanted to start the season.”
As far as what he could have done to avoid the major crash, DeFrancesco thinks there wasn’t much that could be done.
“I saw Helio spinning in front of me and really got on the brakes and there was nowhere to go,” DeFrancesco explained. “Then I saw [Pedersen] coming and I was like, ‘Yeah, this is going to be a big one,’ so just braced up and got ready for it. It was a wild ride.”
Dixon, who says that he thought he was clear when he got into Rosenqvist to trigger the massive melee, apologized for the contact.
“Firstly, just hoping everybody is okay. Secondly, Felix that’s my best friend, man. I feel really sad that we made contact there,” Dixon said to the NBC broadcast team under the red flag.
Rosenqvist explains that he never thought Dixon would turn into him in the opening set of turns of the race.
“I never expected him to swerve out and take the normal racing line because we were side-by-side,” Rosenqvist said of the contact with Dixon on Lap 1. “I was just — I didn’t really try to go on the outside. Was just trying to get through the first couple of turns. You know, he was on the reds, so he would have probably gotten [by] me. I was just hanging there, and I think he didn’t know I was there. It sucks, we had a good chance today I think.”
Conor Daly narrowly avoided the accident, and NBC had incredible in-car footage of Daly’s near-miss:
HOW did @ConorDaly22 make it through!?
— INDYCAR on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) March 5, 2023
In addition to Dixon, Rosenqvist, DeFrancesco and Pedersen, Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud, Sting Ray Robb, and Santino Ferrucci were among those involved.
The crash caused a red flag, and it was certainly a less-than-ideal start to the 2023 NTT IndyCar Series season for some.