IndyCar: Wheldon killed when head hit fencing post
Dan Wheldon was killed when his head hit a post in the fencing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway — contact that created a "non-survivable injury" to the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner.
The cause of death was revealed Thursday when IndyCar presented its findings of the Oct. 16 accident in the season finale. The crash collected 15 cars, including Wheldon, who came from behind the initial contact, launched over spinning cars and sailed about 325 feet into the catchfence.
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Although the contact with the post killed Wheldon, the investigation determined several factors contributed to what became a "perfect storm."
"The accident was significant due to the number of race cars damaged, but more importantly due to the non-survivable injuries to Dan Wheldon," the report said. "While several factors coincided to produce a "perfect storm," none of them can be singled out as the sole cause of the accident.
The race had a season-high 34 cars, but IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said Thursday the field could have had as many as 37 drivers based on the size of both the track and the pit lane. The season finale was held on Vegas' high-banked 1.5-mile oval with multiple racing grooves, which IndyCar president Brian Barnhart said created "nearly unlimited movement on the track surface under race conditions." That, not the construction of the fencing, played a larger role in Wheldon's death, the report said.
Barnhart admitted IndyCar was not prepared for the drivers to have free reign on a wide-open racetrack.
SPORTS IN THE COURTS
Fourth man accuses Fine of abuse
A 56-year-old New York prison inmate says former Syracuse University assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine began molesting him more than 40 years ago and continued to have sexual contact with him into adulthood. Floyd VanHooser told The Associated Press during a prison interview Thursday that Fine began sexually abusing him when VanHooser was 14 years old. As an adult, the contact included sex acts for money. VanHooser is the fourth man to accuse Fine of sexual abuse. Fine was fired Nov. 27 after a 36-year career at Syracuse after three men said he molested them when they were boys. Fine has denied wrongdoing and has not been charged. A federal investigation is ongoing. VanHooser is serving 16 years to life at Clinton state prison near the Canadian border for several burglaries of Syracuse-area homes.
Attorney says ex-AAU chief innocent
An attorney for former Amateur Athletic Union President Bobby Dodd said Thursday his client is innocent of allegations that he molested two children in the 1980s. ESPN reported last week that two former basketball players have accused Dodd of molesting them as children in Memphis and other locations. Dodd has not been charged with any crime, but Attorney Steve Farese Sr. said the damage to his reputation has already been done.
Two UK players named all-region
Kentucky women's soccer players Kelsey Hunyadi and Arin Gilliland were named to the All-South Region team by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. Hunyadi, a senior, posted career highs in every category this season including points (38), goals (14), assists (10) and game-winning goals (4). Gilliland, a freshman, started 15 games and scored four goals.
■ Three Transylvania's women's soccer players were named to the All-Great Lakes Region team. Senior forward Elizabeth Schmitt was a second-team choice, and sophomores Amy Ghibaudy and Anne Marie Dumaine were picked for the third team.
Donovan returns to Everton on loan
Los Angeles Galaxy star Landon Donovan will return to Everton next month on a two-month loan, the Galaxy announced Thursday, giving the Toffees some attacking help as they try to climb the standings after a slow start. Everton is 12th in the Premier League standings and has just 15 goals in 14 league matches. He will be eligible to play starting with the Jan. 4 home match against Bolton and will stay through the Feb. 25 game at Liverpool.
Ex-Red Willis signs with Phillies
Dontrelle Willis has a new role on another new team. The Philadelphia Phillies signed the left-hander to an $850,000, one-year contract on Thursday. Willis joins his fourth team in three seasons, looking to revive his career out of the bullpen. "I'm excited," Willis said. The 30-year-old Willis was the 2003 NL Rookie of the Year with Florida and finished second in Cy Young Award voting in 2005. He was 1-6 with a 5.00 ERA for Cincinnati last year.
■ Outfielder Josh Willingham and the Minnesota Twins agreed to a $21 million, three-year contract. The 32-year-old hit .246 with a career-high 29 homers and 98 RBI for the Oakland Athletics last season.
U.S. teen Thompson leads in Dubai
American teenager Lexi Thompson has taken a two-shot lead after the second round of the Dubai Ladies Masters. The 16-year-old Thompson, who is the youngest LPGA Tour winner, had six birdies en route to a bogey-free, 6-under 66 Thursday and 136 total. Swedish veteran Sophie Gustafson (67) and Margherita Rigon (68) shared second place, while Julieta Granada and Becky Morgan trailed the leader by three shots. Michelle Wie is four shots behind after a 67. The 22-year-old American, who is looking for her first win of the year, rallied after an opening-round 73.
Donald adds European award to PGA's
Top-ranked Luke Donald has added the European Tour's golfer of the year award to his PGA Tour player of the year honor for 2011. The 34-year-old Englishman won three titles on the European Tour and finished in the top 10 in 20 of his 26 tournaments worldwide, helping him become the first player to officially win money lists on both sides of the Atlantic. Donald received the most votes from a judging panel featuring golf journalists and commentators to beat 2011 major winners Darren Clarke, Rory McIlroy and Charl Schwartzel.
Kwan makes Hall of Fame
To her nine U.S. and five world championships, Michelle Kwan can now add the title of Hall of Famer. The most decorated figure skater in American history, Kwan was elected to the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame on Thursday, the only selection for the class of 2012. Kwan won 43 championships, including eight straight national titles. She also won the silver medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics and bronze at the 2002 Games. She earned 57 perfect 6.0 marks in major events under the old scoring system, the most of any skater.
The last word
Roy Williams on fellow Chicago Bears receiver Sam Hurd's arrest for alleged drug dealing:
"This is just very shocking to me. And I'm kind of pissed off at him, too, because it's a really selfish act. He has let us down in the wide receiver group, in which we were so close. He let down the wide receivers coach, the head coach, the Bears' organization and the city. But that's my boy, too."