Just 17 hours after Dan Wheldon's fatal IndyCar Series wreck in Las Vegas, a dozen NASCAR drivers climbed back into their race cars for a test at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
That group included Dale Earnhardt Jr., whose father – seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt – was killed in a 2001 wreck on the final lap of the Daytona 500.
Though Earnhardt Jr. expressed sadness at Wheldon's death, he also said it wasn't difficult to come back to the racetrack after seeing another driver killed.
"I drive race cars for a living," he said. "That's what I'm prepared to do."
Asked if he was satisfied with the level of safety in NASCAR, Earnhardt Jr. said there was no answer to that question.
"Racing is just a dangerous sport," he said. "It's a dangerous thing to do. It can never be safe enough, but I like my chances."
Earnhardt Jr. knew Wheldon through their mutual sponsorship by the National Guard. The drivers had met several times.
"He was really a great guy, really nice person and very friendly," he said. "Just a real pleasure to be around. So it's a tough deal. I can't imagine how his family and everybody in that series is dealing. I imagine it's pretty tough."
The driver declined to comment on what Wheldon's family might be experiencing, saying the question was too personal. Overall, though, he said he was "ready to go back to work."
"We've got things we've got to accomplish today," he said. "Try to see what we can get done."