After Dan Wheldon's Death, Jeff Burton Says Getting Back On Track Is Best 'Medicine'

For some of us, seeing a fatal crash like the one that claimed Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon's life on Sunday would be enough to question the wisdom of getting back into a race car again.

But just a day after Wheldon was killed, NASCAR drivers showed up without hesitation for an electronic fuel injection test this morning at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

How did they do it? By dealing with Wheldon's loss in a different way, according to veteran driver Jeff Burton.

"Racers have a way of having a, 'Well, that can't happen to me' mentality," he said. "It's pretty interesting how racers kind of put that aside, as hard as it is to do this close to an event like that. Once you get in the car, a lot of that stuff goes away. I guess the day it doesn't go away is the day you need to leave it."

Burton, standing in the Charlotte garage, said getting back into a car after an incident like the IndyCar crash in Las Vegas actually makes drivers feel comfortable.

"As silly as it sounds, that's the medicine we want," he said.

In instances such as the Wheldon crash, Burton said drivers' families are affected and are more likely to question their loved ones' careers than the drivers themselves.

"There's no way my children don't watch that and see that; my parents and my wife, my brothers (too)," he said. "They all see that and hear about it. It's hard on everybody. It makes you think about things you don't want to think about."

Wheldon's loss was felt around the motorsports world, even though open-wheel racing and NASCAR are completely different. Burton said all drivers are "part of a fraternity."

"You have a passion for it and you love it – it's in your blood," Burton said. "(The risk) is something you understand, but at the same time, you want to do everything you can to minimize the opportunity for catastrophic events."

Burton said safety is not a "goal" – because it can never be achieved – but instead he viewed it as an "effort" that drivers and officials must constantly evaluate.

But as they pursue more safety advancements – both in the cars and on the tracks – Burton said fans shouldn't expect drivers to suddenly race any differently in light of Wheldon's death.

"I mean, we race," he said. "It's what we do. We can choose to ride around for 490 miles and go for the last 10 miles, but that's not what any of us are about. Obviously, it's risk vs. reward, but you gotta go. You can't just ride around and wait.

"We're racers, and that's what we're supposed to do. We're supposed to go race."

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