SLINGER -- A moment of anger and a matter of seconds was all it took for sprint car driver Kevin Ward, Jr.'s life to end.
"He should've known better, the race was going on," racing fan Izzy Gomez said Monday.
Two days after Tony Stewart's car hit ward on an upstate New York dirt track, racing fans in Slinger only had one thing on their minds: Stewart wasn't at fault.
"He's too good of a driver and too good of a person to purposely try to hit another driver," Gomez said.
Racing veteran Todd Thelen helps run the Slinger Speedway.
"The first thought was to try to learn from it," Thelen said.
Thelen raced against Stewart in the mid-1990s and came to his defense after analyzing the video.
"I'd go to my grave saying he didn't do that on purpose," Thelen said. "I know he didn't. Nobody would do that and especially Tony, he's a class act."
Thelen says racers at his speedway get upset after crashes all the time, but his staff meets with drivers every week and reinforces their unwritten rule.
"We've got one of the best safety teams in the country for short-track racing," Thelen said. "They respond fast, our drivers know there's no need to get out of the car right away, stay in the car buckled in."
Slinger Speedway videotapes all of its races too, which allows drivers to go back and review footage to see who was right and who was wrong. Thelen wishes Ward had the chance to do the same thing.
"It's a basic life lesson," Thelen said. "Just don't put yourself in a bad situation because then bad things can happen."