HAMPTON, Ga. -- One of Bill Elliott's crew members was fatally injured in an accident on pit road in yesterday's Atlanta 500.
Mike Rich died of injuries suffered when he was hit by a car driven by Ricky Rudd as it did a 180-degree spin on pit road late in the race.
Elliott, who looked like a sure winner at the time, was in the pits for a routine stop. Crewman Tommy Cole was jacking up the car and Rich was bent over, about to change the right rear tire, when Rudd's car spun and slammed into them, crushing Rich between the two autos.
Rich, 32, died of cardiac arrest in surgery last night at Georgia Baptist Hospital in Atlanta, where he had been taken by helicopter. He suffered internal, head and chest injuries.
Cole, 42, was conscious and alert after the incident and was taken to Henry County General Hospital in Stockbridge. He suffered multiple bruises but was to be released after X-rays showed no broken bones.
"I don't know if I got in some oil or what," said Rudd. "But the brakes locked, and the way this pit road slants toward the pit instead of toward the track, it takes you to the inside wall."