Motorsport: Scott Dixon third, Scott McLaughlin 14th in eventful 2021 IndyCar start at Alabama

Defending IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon has started the 2021 season on the podium, finishing third at Alabama.

Starting fifth on the grid, the 40-year-old Kiwi survived a nervy incident on the opening lap, as Josef Newgarden spun at turn five, taking out fellow drivers Colton Herta, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Felix Rosenqvist and Max Chilton.

Unaffected, Dixon made his way through the field, but couldn't challenge the eventual winner and teammate Alex Palou of Spain in his IndyCar debut.

Dixon has never won at Alabama's Barber Motorsports Park, but Monday's result is his 11th podium, with seven second-placed finishes and two thirds.

Australian Will Power took second place, after starting the race in fourth.

Dixon is chasing a record-equalling seventh title, alongside American AJ Foyt.

Meanwhile, reigning Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin did well to avoid Newgarden's first-lap fiasco. The Kiwi IndyCar rookie finished 14th of the 24-car field, after starting in 12th.

Former Formula One driver Romain Grosjean finished 10th on his debut, while seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson was 19th.