NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Tony Stewart has spoken out about the accident that claimed the life of Dan Wheldon last weekend at Las Vegas, and appealed for everyone to "take a deep breath and let the emotions settle down."
Stewart raced in the Indy Racing League in the 1990s and was crowned IRL champion in 1997 before his move to stock car racing, but he remains a fan of the open-wheel series to this day and hopes that the fatal accident won't mean the end of IndyCar races on ovals.
"I'm a big fan of IndyCar racing," he said. "I always have been and I always will. I prefer to watch them on the ovals verses the road courses. I've always been a fan of it ... When we're not racing we watch IndyCar races, if they're not racing they watch our races.
"Racing is racing and race fans are race fans. They want to see racing. It's stupidity to compare back and forth and make it into that situation."
Stewart was quick to defend the series, and its beleaguered CEO Randy Bernard who has taken immense criticism over the management of the series leading up to the ill-fated IZOD IndyCar Series World Championships.
"Randy Bernard has been getting beat up over it and he shouldn't," he said. "It's part of racing, its part of what can happen. Everybody is a back chair quarterback going no we should do this or shouldn't do that.
"I think everybody has got to take a deep breath and let the emotions settle down. Everybody is obviously thinking about Dan and his family, his wife and two children, there's a lot of great charity stuff coming up to help them out which we are really proud to be a part of."
Stewart is among drivers world wide to be contributing items to a charity auction to benefit Dan Wheldon's family. He himself will be donating his helmet from this weekend's Cup race at Talladega.
"I think everybody has to take a step back from it and realize this is auto racing" he continued. "It's racing; I mean it's always been racing. I mean auto racing as a whole is safer than it's ever been. It still boils down to the people that are steering the cars around. It's not that the cars are unsafe, there's still people that tell the cars where to go so we've got to take responsibility. There is no reason for anybody to point fault anywhere. There's no fault in it. It's racing.