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Auto racing: Lawyer launches probe for injured NASCAR fans

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

A lawyer hired by three fans hurt when a NASCAR Nationwide Series race crash hurled debris into the grandstand at Daytona International Speedway will focus his probe on the catch-fencing.

"Our firm has the utmost respect for NASCAR and their fans," Matt Morgan of the Orlando law firm Morgan and Morgan, said via Twitter on Tuesday. "Our investigation will look into the manufacture of the fence."

Morgan had announced on Twitter on Monday night that his firm had been retained by three people hurt in the frightening crash, which occurred on Saturday in the waning moments of the race that served as a curtain-raiser to Sunday's Daytona 500.

Kyle Larson, a rising Japanese-American driver who was making his first start in NASCAR's second-tier Nationwide series, was caught in a pile-up of a dozen cars and launched into the fencing separating the track from the stands.

The front end of his car tore a gaping hole in the fence, the smoldering engine staying trapped there as a tire and other debris hurtled into the midst of terrified fans.

Daytona International Speedway president Joie Chitwood said 28 people were hurt -- 14 taken to local hospitals and 14 more treated at the track's medical center.

Chitwood never confirmed reports that one person had surgery for serious head trauma or that at least one other person suffered injuries considered serious, if not life-threatening.

Repairs to the track, fencing and grandstand were completed in time for the Daytona 500 -- the season-opening showpiece of NASCAR's elite Sprint Cup series -- to start on schedule on Sunday.

Veteran Jimmie Johnson snatching victory on the last lap, while Danica Patrick, who made history at Daytona as the first woman to win a Sprint Cup pole position, was eighth.

Chitwood said he sat in the sections of the stands involved in the accident during parts of Sunday's race, where he was welcomed by spectators.

"I just felt it was appropriate," he said Monday at a breakfast honoring Johnson.

"I run this track. I'm comfortable sitting in any seat. I thought it was the right thing to do. I wanted (the fans) to see me there sitting with them."

NASCAR's analysis of the incident began on Monday at its research and development center in Concord, North Carolina.

NASCAR engineers and outside experts were examining debris and video replays as they seek to determine why the car's front end sheared off and what if any safety protocols need to be changed or upgraded.

bb/nr13

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130226/auto-racing-lawyer-launches-probe-injured-nascar-fans