The NTT IndyCar season lasted about three turns before an extraordinary crash brought out the red flag. Thankfully, everyone escaped serious injury, but Devlin DeFrancesco was drilled and launched in the air on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.
The crash started as Scott Dixon got wide and Felix Rosenqvist ran out of room as the wall curved in. Rosenqvist hit the wall and was slow with damage, and the others behind him crashed.
The most serious part of the crash was DeFrancesco, as he got drilled in the side by rookie Benjamin Pedersen.
The #FirestoneGP is red flagged after this lap 1 incident.#INDYCAR // @GPSTPETE pic.twitter.com/7s50XtKiTi
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) March 5, 2023
This could’ve been a lot worse than what it was. DeFrancesco was hit in the weakest part of the car, and a driver who gets hit in the side where their legs and feet are, can sometimes be seriously injured. Alex Zanardi lost his legs in a similar crash, though the car who hit him was going twice as fast as Pedersen was.
To show how scary it could be, the in-car view of Conor Daly showed him barely get through the crash while DeFrancesco was launched beside him.
HOW did @ConorDaly22 make it through!?
Ride on-board with the @ECRIndy driver. #INDYCAR
📺 : @nbc and @peacock
💻 : https://t.co/aVev1T4YYk pic.twitter.com/vjfp8ApDMa
— INDYCAR on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) March 5, 2023
Even though the cars were coming around a blind corner, Pedersen appeared to not even slow down as he plowed into DeFrancesco. The last place cars, some of them rookies, may not have the experience to navigate a crash with the fast closing speed as an IndyCar, but it’s still bad when you’re crashing into a stationary car at full speed. You can see it in Daly’s car. He had to react fast, but he slowed down enough to navigate through safely. Pedersen didn’t and just bowled through DeFrancesco.
IndyCar driver Sage Karam, and many others noted the apparent lack of awareness from Pedersen that resulted in more carnage.
How the last car coming through not slowing down? How do you not see what’s happening in front of you? Glad it appears everyone is ok but that’s unacceptable.
— Sage Karam (@SageKaram) March 5, 2023
Seriously, why did Pedersen try to flat-foot it through a multi-car pileup?!?! #IndyCar https://t.co/ong9WtbxPc
— Ryan Erik King (@RyanErikKing) March 5, 2023
Benjamin Pedersen finished 5th in a 9 car Indy Lights field last year and clearly isn't good enough to be an IndyCar driver and that incident proves it.
He slammed into that crash around 20mph faster than everyone else and could have seriously injured someone
— Danny (@DannyBrennan72) March 5, 2023
Did Benjamin Pedersen address the brake pedal there? #INDYCAR
— Matthew Burroughs (@MJBurroughs) March 5, 2023
Benjamin Pedersen ARCA braked right into Devlin.
Absolutely inexcusable. pic.twitter.com/mzUzZKYvyV
— BrakeHard (@BrakeHardBlog) March 5, 2023
That's a sickening hit for Pedersen who t-bones DeFrancesco and sends him into the air #IndyCar
— Ed Spencer (@EdSpencer99) March 5, 2023
WHAT WAS PEDERSEN’S PLAN?
— 🇯🇲1ntern🇯🇲 (@Unpaid1ntern) March 5, 2023
Bang on. Big lesson for Pedersen. Could've seriously hurt someone. First start in an IndyCar, qualified last, comes barreling though the pile first lap. https://t.co/53gFwjaPyq
— Mike McKenna (@MikeMcKenna56) March 5, 2023