Second NASCAR driver killed at New Hampshire

NASCAR driver Kenny Irwin was killed today (Friday) during practice for a Winston Cup race at New Hampshire Speedway. The accident comes less than two months after the death of rising star Adam Petty at an almost identical spot on the track

Second NASCAR driver killed at New Hampshire

Irwin's SABCO Chevrolet Monte Carlo hit the wall between turns three and four of the 1.05-mile oval, suffering severe damage on initial impact, before rolling onto its roof.

Eye-witnesses say that the car's throttle appeared to be stuck open going into turn three, but this is yet to be confirmed by NASCAR or the SABCO team. The 30-year-old Indiana driver was taken to the circuit's medical centre, before being airlifted to a local hospital.

Petty, the 19-year-old son of Winston Cup star Kyle and grandson of seven-time Winston Cup champion Richard, died after a Busch Series practice crash at the track on May 12, again between turns three and four. This week, investigators ruled out throttle failure as the cause of Petty's accident.

Kyle Petty, Adam's father, opted to miss the New Hampshire race so soon after his son's accident, but Richard Petty, Adam's grandfather, said: "The Petty family would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the Irwin family. Our thoughts and prayers are, and will continue to be, with the Irwin family and the employees of Team SABCO during his difficult time."

Talking of the similarities between the two accidents, Petty continued: "Those things are circumstances beyond human control. There ain't nothing the matter with the race track. It's circumstances with the way you stop that thing so quick. Your body just can't stand it."

Irwin built his reputation in midget racing and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. He qualified on the front row for his first ever Winston Cup race, at Richmond in September 1997 and became the 1998 Winston Cup Rookie of the Year, but had yet to win a race in NASCAR's premier division. He joined SABCO this season after being replaced by Ricky Rudd at Robert Yates Racing.

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