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Truck driver Nemechek, 27, dies from head injuries

Truck racer John Nemechek died Friday, five days after he suffered massive brain injuries in a racing crash.

Nemechek, 27, died at 11:30 a.m., a day after doctors at Jackson Memorial Hospital said that his vital signs remained stable and that pressure on the brain due to the injury had not increased.

The NASCAR truck series driver had been in a coma since the crash Sunday at the Homestead Motorsports Complex near Miami.

Nemechek developed some chemical imbalance throughout his system due to a slight deterioration in kidney function, the hospital said Thursday.

He had been on life support since the crash during the Florida Dodge Dealers 400 race. His truck hit the wall in Turn 1 on the 144th lap at the 1.57-mile track.

The brain injury was inoperable, according to Dr. Phillip Villanueva, director of neuro-trauma at the hospital.

Nemechek's brother, NASCAR Winston Cup driver Joe Nemechek, and other family members were at his side when he died, said John Sands, a spokesman for Joe Nemechek's SABCO race team.

Joe Nemechek withdrew from Sunday's Winston Cup TransSouth 400 at Darlington, S.C., and will be replaced by Phil Parsons, Sands said.

TRANSOUTH 400: Points leader Dale Jarrett won his second straight pole at Darlington, leading the opening round of time trials at the 1.316-mile circuit. It is the fourth pole of Jarrett's career and first of the season.

Jarrett, the 11th of 46 drivers who made one-lap attempts, turned a lap of 171.095 mph, then waited for more than an hour as most of the competitors tried to knock his Robert Yates Racing Ford Thunderbird off the top spot.

Ricky Craven, driving a Chevrolet Monte Carlo, came the closest, taking the outside spot on the front row with a lap of 171.047.

KULWICKI SUIT: A federal court jury ruled that manufacturers of a plane that crashed and killed NASCAR star Alan Kulwicki and three others were not negligent. The jury awarded no damages to the Insurance Company of North America, Eastern Foods and Hooters of America. The Merlin Fairchild 300 aircraft crashed in Blountville in 1993 as Kulwicki, the 1992 Winston Cup points champion, was headed to a race in Bristol.

DIAMOND HILL PLYWOOD 200: Rookie Elliott Sadler earned his second pole of the Busch Grand National season, beating out Diamond Ridge Racing teammate Jeff Green for the honor in qualifying for today's race.

PHOENIX 200: Tony Stewart had the fastest speeds in the morning (165.983 mph) and afternoon (164.865 mph) practice sessions for Sunday's Indy Racing League event.