By Mel Evans, AP
Fans leave the stands after it rained Sunday at Pocono Raceway.
By Nate Ryan, USA TODAY
One fan was killed and another was in critical condition after multiple lightning strikes occurred after a NASCAR Sprint Cup race was cut short by thunderstorms Sunday at Pocono Raceway.
Track spokesman Bob Pleban said 10 fans were taken to hospitals. He said Pocono had a policy in place for emergency evacuations but said the track might not have further updates until Monday morning.
Pleban said the fan, whose identity has not been released, was declared dead on arrival at Pocono Medical Center. One of the other nine injured fans was in critical condition.
"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.
Officials had not yet determined whether all of the injured fans were hit by the same lightning strike or multiple strikes.
The dead fan was a 41-year-old man, the Pocono Record reported. The newspaper quoted Monroe County Coroner Bob Allen as saying the victim was leaning against his car when lightning struck the vehicle.
A severe storm warning was issued for the region surrounding the track at 4:12 p.m. ET, but the race wasn't stopped until 4:50 p.m., after 98 of a scheduled 160 laps.
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. Pleban said an announcement was made on the track's public address system immediately after the race advising fans to leave the grandstands because lightning was imminent.
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."
NASCAR estimated Sunday's attendance at 85,000.
On race weekends, track facilities are in charge of fan safety and crowd control while NASCAR handles the competition.
Sheena Baker of Somerset, Pa., said as she was leaving the track at 4:30 p.m. - 20 minutes before the race was stopped - she heard a severe weather announcement on the track's PA system. But Baker said it was hard to hear over the sound of jet dryers and cars on the track. Baker said she and and her friends left the track after checking the weather radar on their smartphones.
"If people in the grandstands can watch the radar, they had to know this was coming," Baker said. "They should have done a better job of notifying the people in the grandstands."
The race was won by Jeff Gordon, who said he heard a huge crack of lightning walking down pit road after his 86th career victory.
"You could tell it was very close," said Gordon, who learned of the fans being taken to the hospital during his postrace news conference, before the death was announced. "That's going to take away from the victory, the fact that somebody was affected by that. The fans here are so loyal and avid, so you hate to hear something like that. Certainly our thoughts are with them."
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."
About an hour after the race was stopped (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."
NASCAR was not available for comment but did release a statement through spokesman David Higdon.
"We are deeply saddened that a fan has died and others were injured by lightning strikes following today's race at Pocono," Higdon said. "Our thoughts are with them as well as all those affected by this unfortunate accident."
Contributing: Wire reports