Scott Dixon goes airborne and crashes in front of Helio Castroneves (3) during Sunday’s Indianapolis 500. (Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports)

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — A terrible two-car crash occurred in Turn 2 of Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 when Jay Howard got into the gray marbles and outside the racing line, hit the wall and came down before being hit by pole-sitter Scott Dixon, who had nowhere to go.

Dixon’s car went airborne over three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves, hit the top of the wall, flipped and came down wheels up.

Dixon’s car was destroyed.

Both drivers got out of their cars. Dixon bent over for several seconds, and was helped into the ambulance.

Dixon, a four-time IndyCar champion from New Zealand who won this race in 2008, was checked, cleared and released from the infield care center. One week ago, Dixon won the pole with the fastest average speed in 21 years.

“I’m glad everybody’s OK. It was a wild ride for sure,” Dixon said.

“It’s tough. I think when we make those decisions of which way to go you’re hoping that the car (Howard) is going to stay against the wall. It started to turn down, but I’d already picked that way to go. There’s nowhere else to try to avoid them.”

The red flag came out at 1:09 p.m. to allow for catchfence repair between Turns 1 and 2. Debris ripped a hole in the catchfence, located near a pedestrian tunnel. The delay lasted 21 minutes, and teams were not allowed to work on the cars during that time.

A photographer could be seen taken away on a stretcher, sitting up and alert. He could be seen ducking below the area where Dixon’s car hit and debris came through the fence.

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It capped a wild week for Dixon, who was robbed at gunpoint along with former teammate and four-time IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti, at a Taco Bell drive-through the night he won the pole.

Howard, a 37-year-old Englishman, is driving an extra car for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in a Honda sponsored by Team One Cure, funded by the Tony Stewart Foundation.

“I’m fine. I’m really glad Scott’s OK as he was a victim of this,” said Howard, who was also checked and released from the care center. It sucks.”

Howard was a couple laps down and was trying to make up ground. He blamed Ryan Hunter-Reay for pushing him up into the gray. “To say I’m unhappy is an understatement.”

The second caution came soon afterwards on lap 66 and was a tamer affair, but doused the hopes of both Conor Daly and Jack Harvey.

In attempting to slip around the outside of Charlie Kimball, Daly clipped wheels and was sent sliding up the track and into the wall in Turn 3. Harvey was even more unfortunate, spinning out after being caught up in the debris that was scattered when Daly collided with the wall.

Buddy Lazier crashed on Lap 122, ending his 20th bid in a race he won in 1996. He is eighth on the all-time starts list at the 2.5-mile flat oval.

There’s been talk all month about the unreliability of Honda engines. Ryan Hunter-Reay, who was leading the race, lost his engine on Lap 137. The 2014 Indy 500 winner was among four Andretti Autosport drivers who had led laps at that point.

Sage Karam, driving a Chevrolet, saw his battery die and was out of the race after 125 laps.

Contributing: Martin Rogers