DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. The Daytona Beach Police Department cleared a paraplegic driver of blame for Sunday's accident that left a speedway worker dead, but the IPower Dash Series and Daytona International Speedway said their investigations will continue.
The police said Ray Paprota, who needs a system of levers, gears and knobs to control his four-cylinder car, didn't know Roy H. Weaver III was on the track picking up debris before he struck the worker at more than 100 mph. Weaver, a father of three, died instantly.
According to sources at the speedway, IPower Dash Series officials were aware Weaver was going onto the track during a caution period to pick up debris that fell off another car. The 31-degree banking in the second turn forced Weaver to crawl up to retrieve the debris, making it more difficult for Paprota to see the worker.
The focus of the investigation is why Paprota was allowed, by the control tower, to enter the race while a worker was on the track.
Paprota's Pontiac didn't start before the IPower 150 took the green flag, so it was pushed behind the wall for repairs. The team replaced the battery and he returned during a caution period at the other end of the massive 2.5-mile track. Paprota's car left the garage area, went onto pit road and quickly came up to speed in the first turn as he tried to catch up to the rest of the field. Seconds later, he hit Weaver.
Paprota lost the use of his legs in an automobile crash 20 years ago, but he remained active.
He held a NASCAR license a year ago, attempting to qualify for four races on the NASCAR Dash Series and making the starting lineup for three. He passed all of NASCAR's requirements to compete.
NEWMAN ON IROC POLE: Ryan Newman won 11 poles last year by having the fastest car on the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. His pole position in the International Race of Champions required nothing more than luck.
The driver representing stock car racing won the pole for Friday's all-star race in a blind draw.
The series puts the top drivers from Nextel Cup, NASCAR Craftsman Truck, USAC, IRL IndyCar and World of Outlaws circuits in a special four-race series that's worth $1 million to the overall winner.
Jimmie Johnson (Nextel Cup), Danny Lasoski (World of Outlaws), Steve Kinser (World of Outlaws), Matt Kenseth (Nextel Cup), Scott Sharp (IRL), Travis Kvapil (Craftsman Trucks), Kurt Busch (Nextel Cup), Kevin Harvick (Nextel Cup), Scott Dixon (IRL), J.J. Yeley (USAC) and Helio Castroneves (IRL) rounded out the top 12 spots.
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