Race cars sit covered in pit row during a rain delay before the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway. (Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE)
LONG POND, Pa. (USA TODAY) - One fan was pronounced dead after a lightning strike at Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway, according to a track spokesman.
Pocono spokesman Bob Pleban said the fan, whose identity has not been released, was declared dead upon arriving at Pocono Medical Center. Nine other fans were injured, one in critical condition, as a result of the storm and were taken to local hospitals.
"Our heartfelt thoughts and best wishes to those who were injured. And our condolences to the loved ones of the person who was deceased," Pleban said.
Track officials said the fans were injured in the parking lot behind the grandstand after the race. Pleban says it's not clear if all 10 were struck by lightning and whether there were multiple lightning strikes.
A fan told The Sporting News that he witnessed a lightning strike near the Turn 3 grandstands.
"Me and my friend just ran into our truck during all the nasty weather," said Kyle Manger, a New Jersey native. "The visibility was very poor and all of a sudden (I) saw a bolt of lightning right in front of our windshield.
"When it became a little more visible, we saw two bodies next to a destroyed tent with people scrambling."
A severe storm warning was issued for the track at 4:12 p.m. ET However, race cars were still on the track 30 minutes later, which may have contributed to some fans wanting to hang out instead of seeking shelter.
At 4:21 p.m., the track issued warnings on its Twitter and Facebook accounts: "ATTENTION FANS: Severe thunderstorms are in the area which will produce high winds and lightning. Should arrive in 10-15 mins."
At 4:38 p.m., cars were still on the track. The race was called 12 minutes later.
At 4:59 p.m., the track issued another warning via social media: "ATTENTION FANS: Be advised, seek shelter as severe lightning and heavy winds are in our area."
About an hour later (5:50 p.m.), track President Brandon Igdalsky tweeted: "Hoping for the safety of all the fans that are leaving in this crazy storm. Please seek shelter as there is alot of cloud 2 ground lightning."
The Pennsylvania 400, won by Jeff Gordon, was called because of rain with 98 of the 160 scheduled laps completed.