IndyCar's Dan Wheldon: Danica Patrick, Alex Tagliani Pay Tribute
"We're all very sad. He was a friend of all of ours," an emotional Patrick says.
Racers Danica Patrick and Alex Tagliani are among those paying tribute to IndyCar's Dan Wheldon, who died Sunday in the 11th lap of the Las Vegas Indy 300.
"We're all very sad. He was a friend of all of ours," an emotional Patrick says. "He'll be missed. I just feel for his family."
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"I'm angry. I'm sad. So many things. I feel like everything was wrong. I don't know," adds fellow IndyCar driver Alex Tagliani.
Wheldon was part of a 15-car wreck that happened during the 11th lap of the season-ending race.
The competitors did a five-lap salute to pay their respects.
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"Things happen in this kind of racing," said Wade Cunningham, who was also involved in the wreck. "It's so close. Not much room for error. I was near the front of what caused all this, so I'm not thrilled about it. At this point, whose fault it was is kind of immaterial."
"One minute you're joking around at driver intros and the next, Dan's gone," said Dario Franchitti, whose wife, Ashley Judd, had to bring him a box of tissues, according to the Associated Press. "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."
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Speeds reached 225 miles per hour during practice before the 200-lap race.
Video shows Wheldon's flying through the air and bursting into flames before slamming into a fence. Of the crash, Patrick said: "It was like a movie scene which they try to make as gnarly as possible. It was debris everywhere across the whole track. You could smell the smoke. You could see the billowing smoke on the back straight from the car. There was a chunk of fire that we were driving around. You could see cars scattered."
Three other drivers, including championship contender Will Power, sustained injuries in the crash.
Said IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard: "IndyCar is very sad to announce that Dan Wheldon has passed away from unsurvivable injuries. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family today. IndyCar, its drivers and owners, have decided to end the race."
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"I'll tell you, I've never seen anything like it," Ryan Briscoe said. "The debris we all had to drive through the lap later, it looked like a war scene from Terminator or something. I mean, there were just pieces of metal and car on fire in the middle of the track with no car attached to it and just debris everywhere. So it was scary, and your first thoughts are hoping that no one is hurt because there's just stuff everywhere. Crazy."
An autopsy for Wheldon is planned for Monday. The last person to die in an IndyCar-related accident was Paul Dana in 2006, who crashed while warming up.