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Airborne wreck causes red flag on the first lap of 2023 IndyCar opener at St. Pete (VIDEO)

A wild and violent Lap 1 crash forces red flag conditions during the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, as several drivers are collected and Benjamin Pedersen makes contact with Devlin DeFrancesco, launching him airborne.

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida -- Devlin DeFrancesco went airborne but was injured during a wild eight-car wreck on the opening lap of the NTT IndyCar season opener.

DeFrancesco’s No. 29 Dallara-Honda went skyward (watch the video above or click here) with a lazy half-spin after being hit at full speed by the No. 55 Dallara-Chevrolet of rookie Benjamin Pedersen during the opening minute of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

“I’m fine, but it was a really hard knock,” DeFrancesco, who started 18th of a track-record 27 cars, told NBC Sports after the Andretti Autosport was checked out at the care center. “Not the way we wanted to start the season. I saw Helio (Castroneves) spinning, and there was no way I could get through it, then I saw Pedersen coming at me. I said, ‘Yeah, this is going to be a big one.’

“Just braced up and got ready for it. It was a wild ride.”

No drivers seriously were hurt in the incident, which caused a red flag for 19 minutes and 25 seconds.

After gingerly climbing from his No. 06 Dallara-Honda, Castroneves limped over to check on Meyer Shank Racing teammate Simon Pagenaud, but the four-time Indy 500 winner told NBC Sports that X-rays were negative on his right leg.

Castroneves was icing his right hand, and Pagenaud said he suffered “a little finger issue” in the crash.

“I saw (the cars ahead slow down), and I kind of expected it to be honest,” Pagenaud, who started 25th, told NBC Sports. “It’s been such a tricky area all weekend. I’m on the brakes into that corner and turning right so hard.

“I thought I went through, man. I thought I made it. That’s my strong suit avoiding crashes. We’ll regroup. We had a fast car.”

Santino Ferrucci and Sting Ray Robb also were involved in the crash.

The pileup started in Turn 3 because drivers were slowing for an incident several cars ahead when six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon squeezed Felix Rosenqvist (his former teammate at Chip Ganassi Racing) into the wall.

“Felix is my best friend, man,” Dixon told NBC Sports. “I feel really sad that we made contact there. I thought I was clear. I feel really bad for Felix.”

Rosenqvist said he wasn’t expecting Dixon to take him so wide.

“I was just trying to get through the first couple of turns,” the Arrow McLaren driver said. “I think he didn’t know I was there. It sucks. We had a good chance today. Really bummed about it. Not the way we want to start.

“Maybe it’s something we have to talk about, but it’s hard racing in IndyCar, and it can go that way pretty quickly through those first few corners.”

The chaos continued when the race restarted shortly before 1 p.m.

After Rinus VeeKay spun into the Turn 4 tire barrier on Lap 41, Kyle Kirkwood launched into the air from contact with the rear of Jack Harvey’s car.

With help from medical personnel, Harvey exited the cockpit, but he appeared to still be in pain while sitting on the back step of an ambulance.

According to IndyCar medical director Dr. Julia Vaizer, Harvey was in stable condition but was been taken to a local hospital for further evaluation “out of an abundance of caution.”

Harvey missed last year’s race at Texas Motor Speedway after suffering a concussion in a practice crash.