Verizon IndyCar Series rookie Jack Hawksworth has taken control of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis after its inaugural running on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course began with a violent crash at the standing start.
Hawksworth started on the front row alongside pole sitter Sebastian Saavedra, but when the lights went out to begin the race, Saavedra stalled and was hit from behind by Carlos Munoz and then Mikhail Aleshin.
Mike Conway sustained some damage in the incident but has since returned to action, albeit well off the pace. Juan Pablo Montoya also stalled on the start but avoided the crash and has put himself into the Top 10.
After an extended clean-up period to corral debris, Ryan Hunter-Reay led the field to the green flag at Lap 8 and almost immediately, a free-for-all ensued up and down the 2.4-mile road course as cars went two and even three-wide for position off the restart.
One lap later, Hawksworth went to the inside of Hunter-Reay at the right-hand Turn 1 and took the lead away from the former series champion.
A few turns later, Simon Pagenaud peeled second off of Hunter-Reay, and that was the order of the Top 3 for the rest of the stint as Hawksworth began what has been an impressive drive so far.
Hawksworth pitted from the lead on Lap 29, but got it back when Dale Coyne Racing teammates Justin Wilson and Carlos Huertas pitted together from first and second on Lap 32 to end the pit cycle under green.
At the halfway point, Hawksworth had opened up a lead on Pagenaud of almost four seconds, while Hunter-Reay again settled in third. On Lap 42, a battle for fourth between Will Power and Scott Dixon ended with Dixon going into the runoff area, triggering a full-course caution.