Daily Edition: Mar. 27, 2006

March 26, 2006

IRL Driver Paul Dana Killed at Homestead

IRL IndyCar Series rookie Paul Dana, 30, was fatally injured in a two-car crash during the morning warm-up prior to Sunday's season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

At 10:03 am, just three minutes into the 30-minute session, Ed Carpenter spun his No. 20 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda in Turn 2 on the 1.5-mile circuit and rolled down the banking toward the apron and came to a stop. The caution lights went on immediately and a number of cars drove past at reduced speed before Dana's No. 17 Rahal-Letterman Racing Panoz/Honda arrived on the scene, striking Carpenter's car in the left-rear wheel at what was estimated to be approximately 180mph. The impact split Carpenter's car in two and catapulted Dana's car over Carpenter's.

The medical crew arrived on scene immediately, and it took about 15 minutes to extract both drivers from the wreckage. Both drivers were flown by helicopter to Miami's JacksonMemorialHospital. Carpenter, stepson of IRL founder and CEO Tony George, was reportedly unconscious immediately following the accident, but was said to be awake and alert before being placed in the helicopter. Later in the day it was reported that he had no broken bones and was being kept at the hospital for observation.

Dana was pronounced dead just before noon. An official cause of death was not released, but IRL president and COO Brian Barnhart said, "I believe he was pronounced dead from the multiple trauma."

Bobby Rahal, who co-owns Dana's team with television personality David Letterman, announced that the team would withdraw its other two entries, driven by Danica Patrick and Buddy Rice, from the race.

"It is a very black day for us, and on behalf of our entire team our prayers and sympathy go out to the entire Dana family," Rahal said.

Barnhart said that the trackside and dashboard-mounted caution lights were working properly, the caution flag had been displayed and spotters had relayed information about Carpenter's crash immediately. Rahal said that there had been no communications problems with Dana's radio, and that his spotter had alerted him to the crash ahead of him.

Dana had competed in three IRL races previously, all occurring last year with Hemelgarn Racing. He broke his back in a crash while practicing for the Indianapolis 500 and spent the remainder of 2005 in rehabilitation. He signed with Rahal-Letterman for 2006 and was preparing for his first race with his new team, for which he had qualified eleventh.

Dana was the third IRL driver killed in the series' history. Tony Renna died in a crash during testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in October 2003, and Scott Brayton was killed while practicing for the Indianapolis 500 in May 1996. The most recent death in NASCAR was Dale Earnhardt in February 2001, and the last driver to die in Formula 1 was Ayrton Senna in May 1994.

Dana's was third racing death at the Homestead track. John Nemechek was killed in a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race in February 1997 and Jeff Clinton died in a Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series event at the track in March 2002.

A native of St. Louis currently residing in Indianapolis, Dana had been racing for 10 years. He started out in the Bridgestone Racing School Mechanics Championship, where he scored two wins and six top-five finishes. He advanced through the Bridgestone Racing School Championship Series, the Skip Barber Formula Dodge Series and then the SCCA FF1600 and US F2000 series. He moved up to the Indy Pro Series in 2003, and finished second in that series' championship in 2004, scoring a victory at Milwaukee.

Dana would have turned 31 on April 15. He is survived by his wife Tonya.-John F. Gardner



GM: Turnaround Is Working

Final sales figures for March aren't due until next week, but General Motors is launching a pre-emptive strike this week in an effort to put a forward spin on a story - the success of its new products - that it believes has been overlooked in the seeming endless waves of grim news about finances and downsizing.

GM has scheduled a full-scale briefing this week to tell its side of the story ahead of the sales numbers. Those numbers are, according to an interim report on March sales activity put together by J.D. Power and Associates, rather humdrum. GM's PR offensive will argue that the new pricing strategy is working.
Steve Harris, GM vice president of communications, said GM believes some of the very positive aspects of the GM turnaround story have been overlooked in recent weeks as news organizations focused on the negative reports that swirled around the company.

GM: Turnaround Is Working (3/26/2006)
Company says new pricing plan, cuts are righting the ship despite looming engineering cuts.

Delphi Deadline Draws Near

The bankrupt Delphi Corp. faces some critical choices this week as the deadline for revising its labor agreement with the United Auto Workers fast approaches. 

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