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Dana's death 'black day' for IRL

Paul Dana died of multiple injuries on Sunday following a crash during a pre-race practice session for the Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway

IRL president and chief operating officer Brian Barnhart made the announcement at 12:45 p.m. local time.

Dana's Rahal-Letterman Panoz-Honda crashed into Ed Carpenter's Vision Racing Dallara-Honda on the second lap of the final practice session before the IRL IndyCar Series season opener.

Bobby Rahal, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Racing, said Dana's two teammates would not compete in Sunday's race, which will be held as planned. The cars of Danica Patrick and Buddy Rice were duly parked.

"This is a very black day for us," Rahal said. "On behalf of our team, David (Letterman) and our sponsors and associates, our prayers and sympathies go out to Paul, his wife, Tonya, and the whole Dana family.

"This is a great tragedy. As a result, and in honor of him, we will not be competing with cars 16 and 17."

Dana's Panoz slammed into Carpenter's Dallara after Carpenter's car had spun to a stop in turn two. The yellow flag had been out for several seconds, and several cars had slowed and passed Carpenter's spinning car, before Dana's car hitit at speed.

Both Rahal and Barnhart said there were no communication issues regarding the crash.

"There was no problem with the communication," Rahal said. "The spotter made clear the incident.

"From what I could see, there was a car on the outside that Paul was passing or had just passed.

"It would be conjecture and probably be very irresponsible for me to dissect why it happened, but there was no problem with the communication."

Both drivers were airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.

Carpenter, who reportedly was knocked unconscious at impact, was reported to be awake and alert and was listed in stable condition.

Barnhart said caution lights were on, the flag was out and the radio call had been made - and responded to - before Dana's car crashed into Carpenter's.

Video replays showed only a brief puff of tire smoke from Dana's car before impact, the only indication that he had attempted to slow before the crash.

"This was the first time this weekend that we'd had all 20 cars on the track at the same time," Barnhart said. "Ed had his problem in turn two initially. The yellow lights were called immediately and all systems functioned properly.

"It's just a busy time out there with a lot of cars and a lot of traffic."

Barnhart said he spoke with officials of International Speedway Corporation, which owns the track, and with track president Curtis Gray before deciding to continue with Sunday's race as scheduled at 3:45 p.m. local time.

"We're all in agreement that the race will go on as scheduled today, on time," Barnhart said.

The crash was the first fatal incident in the IRL since Tony Renna was killed in October 2003 during a test session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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