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Driver Simonsen dies in Le Man crash

LE MANS, France — Allan Simonsen's death in a crash cast a pall over the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The race had more than 23½ hours to go, and there was no call to stop it Saturday after the race's first driver fatality in 16 years.

Simonsen's partner, Carina, the mother to their daughter born last year, made sure of that.

It was her "specific request" that Simonsen's team, Aston Martin Racing, continue in the endurance race in his honor.

Just 10 minutes into the race, Simonsen spun and hit the barrier at the Tertre Rouge corner where cars typically reach speeds of up to 105 mph. Simonsen, 34, was taken to a hospital, where he died of his injuries, race organizers said.

"Tragically, and despite the best efforts of the emergency services in attendance, Allan's injuries proved fatal," Aston Martin Racing said in a statement on its website.

Sebastien Enjolras lost his life in prequalifying in 1997. The last driver fatality in the 24-hour race itself was Jo Gartner in 1986.

The safety car came out after the crash, and the race was held up for nearly an hour to repair the guard rail.

Simonsen was racing at Le Mans for the seventh time. He and Danish co-drivers Kristian Poulsen and Christoffer Nygaard led the GTE-Am class in the World Endurance Championship.

Nationwide: AJ Allmendinger slid past Justin Allgaier with seven laps to go, then kept his lead through a late restart and two green-white-checkered overtime finishes to win the Johnsonville Sausage 200 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. For Allmendinger, it was another step toward rebuilding his racing career after he sat out part of last season because of a violation of NASCAR's substance-abuse policy. Allgaier finished second, followed by Parker Kligerman, Owen Kelly and Sam Hornish.

IndyCar: Series leader Helio Castroneves claimed the pole for today's Iowa Corn Indy 250 at Iowa Speedway in Newton but will start 11th after an unapproved engine change. He led all 50 laps in the last of three heat races that determined the starting grid for today. Penske teammate Will Power will start first, and Castroneves still earned nine points by winning the top heat.

NHRA: John Force earned the top spot in Funny Car qualifying for the 142nd time in his career at the New England Nationals in Epping, N.H., as his Friday run of 4.051 seconds at 313.44 mph held up. Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock) and Michael Ray (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also led their classes heading into today's eliminations.

Driver Simonsen dies in Le Man crash 06/22/13 [Last modified: Saturday, June 22, 2013 10:16pm]
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