“The Fast and the Furious” star Paul Walker, 40, dies in car crash (UPDATED)

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Actor Paul Walker, known for his major role in the popular “The Fast and the Furious” racing movie franchise, has been confirmed dead following a fiery auto accident this afternoon in Valencia, California, north of Los Angeles.

According to NBC 4 Los Angeles, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station said that deputies responded to the crash at 6:30 p.m. ET. When they arrived, a car was found on fire and was then extinguished by the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Walker’s official Facebook page issued the following statement:

Both victims were pronounced dead at the scene and the accident is under investigation at this time.

Universal Pictures, the studio for the “The Fast and the Furious,” has also issued their own statement on the tragedy:

“All of us at Universal are heartbroken. Paul was truly one of the most beloved and respected members of our studio family for 14 years, and this loss is devastating to us, to everyone involved with the FAST AND FURIOUS films, and to countless fans. We send our deepest and most sincere condolences to Paul’s family.”

In addition to his work on the silver screen, Walker was also a part-time racer in real life. In 2010, he competed in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill endurance event. Walker was a business partner in the Always Evolving race team, which competes in the Pirelli World Challenge and other sports car racing series.

source:  UPDATE, 10:00 a.m. ET, Sunday: Following various reports that released the second name of the driver broke last night, it has been confirmed that driver was Roger Rodas, 38, and the CEO of the Always Evolving auto performance shop. Rodas’ Valencia-based shop hosted a charity toy drive/fundraiser for Typhoon Haiyan victims on Saturday afternoon, where the pair then left from after the event had ended.

Rodas just completed his rookie season in the Pirelli World Challenge and finished 13th in a field of more than 40 drivers in the series’ GTS class, with a best finish of fifth place in Toronto in 10 starts. Rodas’ philanthropic work included supporting Reach Out Worldwide, which Walker founded, and The Asomugha Foundation.

Walker Photo Credit: Eamonn McCormick/WireImage; Rodas Photo Credit: Mark Weber/PWC

Power, Newgarden, Dixon fastest in first of 2 IndyCar practices today at Barber Motorsports Park

Photo: IndyCar
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Will Power was fastest in Friday’s first of two IndyCar practice sessions at Barber Motorsports Park.

Power covered the 2.3-mile permanent road course in 1:07.5987 minutes at 122.488 mph in the 45-minute practice session.

Even though he spun off the course during his session, Phoenix winner Josef Newgarden still managed to be second-fastest (121.919 mph at 1:07.9141 minutes), followed by Scott Dixon (121.296 mph/1:082627), Max Chilton (121.251 mph/1:08.2882) and Ed Jones (121.215 mph/1:09.5692).

 

Sixth through 10th were Simon Pagenaud (121.208 mph/1:08.3122), Jordan King (121.113 mph/1:083661), Graham Rahal (121.059 mph/1:08.3964), St. Petersburg winner Sebastien Bourdais (121.029 mph/1:08.4131) and rookie Zach Veach (121.014 mph/1:08.4216).

Here’s the full speed chart:

Incidents:

* Early in the session, Long Beach winner Alexander Rossi ran off the track and into the grass, striking a small sign, but was able to get back on-track. However, Rossi was only able to complete 10 laps, relegating him to 20th-fastest in the 23-car field.

* Moments later, it appeared the rear brakes locked up on Newgarden heading into Turn 5, spinning him into the gravel trap. He was able to get going and returned to the pits for service and was back on-track with less than four minutes remaining in the session.

ALSO OF NOTE:

* The second practice session of the day will begin at 3:50 p.m. ET. A third practice will take part Saturday morning at 10:50 a.m. ET, followed by qualifying beginning at 4:05 p.m. ET. The race, to be televised live Sunday on NBCSN, is slated to start at 3:30 p.m. ET.

* However, weather forecast does not look promising for Sunday’s race. As of 1 p.m. ET today, the forecast calls for 100 percent rain throughout the day.

* Dixon has had an incredible record at Barber Motorsports Park, with seven podium finishes in eight starts there. Except for one thing: he has yet to win a race there. But he does have five runner-up and two other third-place showings on the permanent road course.

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