Newgarden avoids opening lap crash at Portland

File-This Aug. 17, 2019, file photo shows Josef Newgarden laughing during a news conference for Sunday's IndyCar Series auto race at Pocono Raceway, in Long Pond, Pa. Newgarden has been the IndyCar points leader for all but one race this season and built enough of a cushion that his mindset has changed as the championship race speeds into an anticlimactic final two events of the year. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

PORTLAND, Oregon — IndyCar points leader Josef Newgarden dropped to the back of the field at the start of Sunday's race at Portland International Raceway to avoid a multi-car crash in the opening turn.

Newgarden had a poor qualifying effort for the penultimate race for the season and started 13th, in the middle of a dicey pack of cars all jockeying for track position at the drop of the green flag. As expected, the course became clogged, and an aggressive move by Graham Rahal triggered a multi-car accident.

Among those collected were Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammates James Hinchcliffe and Conor Daly, who was in a rare live tryout for that seat next season.

All four of the championship contenders avoided the accident. Newgarden began the race with a 38-point lead over Team Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud.

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More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/apf-AutoRacing and https://twitter.com/AP

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