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Tuesday
Oct182011

Dan Wheldon Tragedy: Racetrack Officials Fire Back

Nick Laham/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- Officials in charge of the Las Vegas racetrack where two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon died in a fiery crash are defending the speedway's conditions.

Las Vegas Speedway President Chris Powell spoke after comments were made by critics and drivers that the track was unsafe leading to Sunday's 15-car pileup.

"We as a speedway make sure we provide a venue that they come in and make an assessment when they're ready to race -- and they did that exact thing," Powell said late Monday.  "Our speedway conforms to every regulation that any sanctioning body has ever held it to, and we're very proud of that."

Now that the debris and mangled metal has been removed, there are questions about whether the track was too fast, too small, and too crowded.

The track where Sunday's tragic accident took place is relatively small -- a mile-and-a-half-long oval.  Because of its smaller size, drivers are constantly turning.  Comparatively, the Indianapolis 500 track is two-and-a-half miles long, giving significantly more room for drivers to spread out and to see in front of them.

Driver Scott Meadow says that he has raced the Las Vegas speedway countless times on the turn that claimed Wheldon's life at speeds of up to 220 miles an hour.  He described the conditions during competitive racing as very tight.

"It's more like 30 airplanes racing together than cars," Meadow said.

Still, it is that speed, that danger, that the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner craved.  Just days before his death, Wheldon told the television show Extra that he couldn't wait to take on this challenging track.

"I think it's going to be one of Indy Car's finest races outside of the Indianapolis 500," Wheldon said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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