8/5/2012 6:14:10 PM
The incident occurred in the parking lot behind the grandstands at the
racetrack. It happened just before 5 p.m. (ET) when a severe thunderstorm
moved through the area, producing heavy rain and fierce lightning.
Track president Brandon Igdalsky confirmed the fan died while en route to
Pocono Medical Center in nearby East Stroudsburg, Pa. One fan was transported
to Lehigh Hospital in Allentown and listed in critical condition. Three others
were sent to local hospitals for less severe injuries. Five received treatment
at the track's medical care center and were later released.
The identity of the fan killed and those injured were not released.
"Our thoughts and prayers with those involved in today's lightning strike at
the Raceway," track officials said in a statement. "Unfortunately, one of our
fans, who was critically injured, was pronounced (dead on arrival) at the
Pocono Medical Center in Stroudsburg...We ask for our fans to please keep all
affected, and their families, in your prayers."
The track was under a severe thunderstorm watch for most of the day before a
warning was issued for the area shortly after 4 p.m. local time. NASCAR
officials stopped the race and called it after 98 of the scheduled 160 laps
were completed. Jeff Gordon was leading when the event was halted and
therefore awarded his first win of the 2012 season.
"We were walking down pit road, the umbrellas weren't doing any good and there
was a huge, huge crack from lightning," Gordon said. "You could tell it was
very close. That's the thing that's going to take away from the victory is the
fact that somebody was affected by that."
Gordon received the news of the effected fans when he was conducting his post-
race press conference.
"That's just so unfortunate, because (the fans) are so loyal and avid here, so
you hate to hear something like that," he said. "Certainly our thoughts are