SPORTS

Driver Dan Wheldon killed in massive Indy 300 crash

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Drivers had been concerned about the high speeds at the track, where they were hitting nearly 225 mph during practice.

Graham Rahal's car burns following a crash early in the IndyCar Series' Las Vegas Indy 300 auto race Sunday. (Photo: Associated Press)

Their concerns became reality when contact on Turn 2 sent cars flying through the air, crashing into each other and into the outside wall and catch fence.

"I'll tell you, I've never seen anything like it," Ryan Briscoe said. "The debris we all had to drive through the lap later, it looked like a war scene from Terminator or something. I mean, there were just pieces of metal and car on fire in the middle of the track with no car attached to it and just debris everywhere. So it was scary, and your first thoughts are hoping that no one is hurt because there's just stuff everywhere. Crazy."

Also injured in the crash were Hildebrand and Pippa Mann. Both will remain in the hospital overnight. IndyCar said Mann was being treated for a burn to her right pinkie finger and will be released Monday morning, and Hildebrand was awake and alert but will be held overnight for further evaluation

The accident spoiled what Bernard had hoped would be a showcase event for the struggling IndyCar Series.

The second-year CEO worked the entire season on turning the finale into a spectacle, and said he'd offer his resignation to the IndyCar board of directors if ABC's broadcast didn't pull a .8 ranking. His goal was to improve upon last year's season finale's horrible television rating and give the series some momentum for what's hoped to be a strong season in 2013 with the introduction of a new car and new manufacturers.

So Bernard poured everything into Las Vegas, renting the speedway from owner Bruton Smith and agreeing to promote the event himself.

He landed enough sponsorship to at least break even on race, and the $5 million challenge bought him an enormous amount of publicity the entire year.

Bernard got the Las Vegas Strip to close to stage a parade of cars, hosted industry parties and a blackjack tournament all to boost interest in the race.

He even got MGM Grand Resorts to offer a pair of tickets to anyone staying this weekend in one of the chain's 14 properties.

But what was hoped to be a day of celebration quickly turned somber.

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