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Drivers, fans mourn Indy 500 champion Dan Wheldon

Isaac Brekken / AP

Dario Franchitti (back to camera) returns to the pit row following tribute laps in honor of Dan Wheldon, who was killed earlier in a crash during the IndyCar Series' Las Vegas Indy 300 auto race on October 16 in Las Vegas.

Tom Pennington / Getty Images

Team members line the pitlane as the drivers complete five memorial laps to honor Dan Wheldon at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on October 16.

Robert Laberge / Getty Images

A fan waves a sign after Dan Wheldon died of injuries after a fifteen car crash during the Las Vegas Indy 300 on October 16.

Tom Pennington / Getty Images

Dario Franchitti surrounds himself with crew members and wife, Ashley Judd, after Dan Wheldon was killed on October 16.

Nick Laham / Getty Images, file

Dan Wheldon waves to photographers during the 95th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race Trophy Presentation at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 30, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The AP reports:

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon, who died on Sunday after his car became ensnared in a fiery 15-car pileup, came to the United States from England in 1999 and became one of IndyCar's biggest and most popular stars.

In his honor, drivers, many sobbing openly, took part in a five-lap salute around the Las Vegas Motor Speedway oval as thousands of fans stood and cheered from the grandstand.

"One minute you're joking around at driver intros and the next, Dan's gone," said Dario Franchitti, whose wife, actress Ashley Judd, had to bring him a box of tissues. "I lost, we lost, a good friend. Everybody in the IndyCar series considered him a friend. He was such a good guy. He was a charmer." Read the full story.