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Tragedy and triumph in Las Vegas

Dario Franchitti and the Target Chip Ganassi race team continued their dominance of the Izod IndyCar Series this year, but any planned championship celebration of a third consecutive championship was marred by the death of fellow driver Dan Wheldon this past Sunday.

Wheldon got caught up in a horrific 15-car pile up on lap 11 of the season-ending IndyCar race that that was scheduled for 200 laps on the mile-and-a-half oval speedway in Las Vegas. Wheldon, 33, was airlifted to a nearby hospital and pronounced dead several hours later. The race was canceled although drivers returned to their cars and circled the track five times in recognition of Wheldon.

Although advancements in car safety equipment and tracks retrofitted with impact absorbent walls have reduced the frequency and severity of accident injuries, after watching what happened at Las Vegas this past Sunday it is a wonder more drivers weren’t severely injured. To see what happened click here.

The day began with what appeared to be a closely contested battle between Franchitti and Will Power, driver of the number 12 Verizon car, who needed to make up 18 points on Franchitti in order to claim the title of series champion. It was a reversal of the situation from the prior year when heading into the final race Franchitti trailed Power by a narrow margin. Power got caught up in an accident in the 2010 season finale in Homestead, Fla., and by finishing eighth Franchitti obtained enough points to secure the series championship. Power was among those involved in the accident in Las Vegas while Franchitti was among the drivers who avoided the crash.