| ||Associated Press|
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Trucks series driver Tony Roper died
Saturday, hours after a fiery crash in a race at Texas Motor
Speedway, becoming the third on-track fatality this year in NASCAR.
The 35-year-old driver had a severe neck injury which prevented
blood from flowing to his brain, said Dr. John LaNoue, a trauma
surgeon at Parkland Hospital. LaNoue said the injury Friday night
left Roper without any brain function.
Roper was unconscious and unresponsive when he was pulled out of
his truck after the wreck during the O'Reilly 400, where he started
15th in a field of 36. Emergency crews had to cut the roof off his
Ford to get him out.
He had been placed on a ventilator at the hospital, where his
father, former Midwest short track star Dean Roper, was with him
when he died.
"We appreciate the show of support from the other drivers and
teams who came here to be with us last night and this morning,"
Roper said. "We appreciate everybody who helped him along in
racing, and all the friends he has made as a result.
"He was a good little racer."
It was the first fatal accident at Texas Motor Speedway, which
opened in April 1997.
"We are all shaken by the death of Tony Roper," said Eddie
Gossage, the track's general manager. "We join our fans in
offering prayerful support to Tony Roper's family."
NASCAR Busch series driver Adam Petty and Winston Cup competitor
Kenny Irwin were killed earlier this year. They crashed eight weeks
apart while practicing at New Hampshire International Speedway.
"Our thoughts and prayers are certainly with Dean and Shirley,
Tony's wife Michelle, and sister Kim," said Mike Helton, NASCAR's
senior vice president and chief operating officer.
The only previous fatality in the truck series was in 1997, when
John Nemechek died after a crash in Homestead, Fla. Roper's death
was the eighth from on-track crashes in NASCAR in the last 10
Roper was one of two drivers to die Saturday from injuries in
touring series events. Drag racer Wayne Bailey died hours after
crashing during qualifying Friday night for the IHRA World Finals
at Red River Raceway in Gilliam, La.
Roper, from Fair Grove, Mo., was in just his fifth Craftsman
Series race this season, but the 60th of his career. He never won
in the series, his best finish being second in Clermont, Ind., in
He also had raced in the Busch series over the past two years.
As a Busch rookie in 1999, he had three top-10s in his 19 races but
finished no better than 24th in three races on that circuit this
Roper began racing modifieds and late model cars in 1986, then
moved to the ASA stock car circuit in 1992. He made his first start
in the truck series during its debut season in 1995.
The crash happened as Roper tried to move through a pack of
traffic. He apparently bumped with another truck, then veered
sharply to the right and slammed head-on into the wall along the
frontstretch on the 32nd of 267 laps on the 1½-mile oval. His
mangled truck burst into flames and spun out of control.
The accident was similar to one involving Geoffrey Bodine in the
season-opening truck race at Daytona International Speedway.
Bodine, a Winston Cup regular later fired from that ride, crashed
after being pinched into the wall during the Daytona 200.
His truck became a fireball and took out a large section of the
catch fencing as it spewed parts into the grandstand. Nine
spectators and another driver were injured as was Bodine, who
missed 2½ months with a concussion, and breaks of a wrist, ankle
Polesitter Bryan Reffner won the truck race Friday night,
passing Andy Houston with six laps to go for his first victory in
112 career starts. Greg Biffle claimed the points title, even
though he completed just 81 laps and finished 25th.
| ||Roper|| |
Biffle wins Craftsman Truck series championship
Craftsman Truck Series O'Reilly 400 results