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Stewart defends IndyCar from critics

"Racing has always been dangerous. That's why people come to watch races because there is an element of danger involved. You're never going to get it all out but like we said it's safer than it's ever been. It's a freak thing that happened and it can happen every race. It can happen every race that we run but it's safer than it's ever been ... Safety in both IndyCar racing and stock car racing has come a long way in the last 10 years.

"It's always been dangerous but everybody still does it. If it was so bad, none of us would want to do this: but we still love doing this every week and it's just part of the sport unfortunately. It's never going to be 100 percent safe."

Stewart insisted that he wasn't worried for the survival of IndyCar as a series in the wake of last week's tragic events and said that "I don't think anybody actually thinks that way. I think it's ludicrous if somebody does think that," adding: "I was enjoying watching the races this year just like always ... There's always been IndyCar racing and stock car racing and it's coexisted for years and it's always been fine."

He pointed out: "They had 34 cars at Vegas. That's an incredible field. That's the biggest field I've seen in years. I don't think so. I think that's a sign that they're gaining a little bit and I hope they are."

Stewart insisted that he had no safety concerns about IndyCar racing - "No, never. Not once" - and that he was always open to a return to open-wheel competition "if the opportunity was right.

"The hard thing is that series has gotten really competitive. You aren't just going to go show up and drop in one and be up to speed right away. That's why it makes it so hard to go do something like that," he said. "The reason we don't do it isn't even remotely safety issue-wise it's just time-wise and it you're going to do it you want to be competitive doing it. You want to make sure when you show up at a race you're competitive and ready to go.

"It would be like trying to go run a top fuel dragster next week. I've never done it and its going to take you a while to get used to something like that."

Stewart also had a big crash of his own at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in NASCAR, but he didn't think there was much to learn from the comparison: "No, they were totally separate, totally different circumstances," he insisted. "Still the same facility but you know the track being changed had nothing to do with it. Our accident was totally, it was opposite ends of the spectrum of what happened with their wreck."

As he prepared for his own race at Talladega, Stewart summed up the feelings of many professional motor racing drivers who have spoken in the days following Dan Wheldon's death.

"It is definitely a tragedy. But it doesn't affect us getting back in the car. We all know that can happen every week. It's been a part of racing forever. I don't know that it's necessarily why we do what we do; but, we know those risks going into it. It is part of the sport.

"It always has been and it always will be."




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