Reactions to Earnhardt's death

Reaction to Dale Earnhardt's death Sunday in a crash on the last turn of the last lap of the Daytona 500:

“My heart is hurting right now. I would rather be any place right this moment than here. It's so painful.” — race winner Michael Waltrip at his press conference. Waltrip drove a car owned by Earnhardt.

“This is understandably the hardest announcement I've ever had to make. We've lost Dale Earnhardt.” — NASCAR president Mike Helton.

“NASCAR has lost its greatest driver ever, and I personally have lost a great friend.” — NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr.

“No matter where it happens or how it happens or even how prepared you think you might be for it, losing somebody close to you hurts. My heart just breaks for Teresa and the family.” — driver Kyle Petty. Petty's son, Adam, was killed last year in a crash during a Busch series practice session in New Hampshire.

“I don't know what to say. This is incredible, just incredible. I think everybody is just in shock right now. I didn't see much of what happened. After the race was over, I heard things didn't look very good but, man, Earnhardt. You figure he'll bounce right back. Your first thought is, hey, he'll probably come back next week at Rockingham and beat us all.” — driver Jeremy Mayfield.

“It's just the way this sport is. That's the chances you take. It's unfortunate it happened to him. It just don't seem right. It's hard to believe. You don't think things like that will happen to drivers of his caliber. “We're going to have to take a look at some of the safety issues. My driver tested the HANS [Head And Neck Safety] device over the summer and he will not get in the car without it now. If Dale had that on, we'd probably be looking at a different situation.” — Todd Parrott, Dale Jarrett's crew chief.

“I feel like somebody kicked me in the chest. I'm stunned. And I'm really sad. That's about all I can say.” — driver John Andretti.

“Like so many people around the world, I became a NASCAR fan because I became a Dale Earnhardt fan. Dale was someone I was proud to have my son look up to. We all have our memories we will cherish, memories of excitement, competitiveness and most of all memories of a great man. On behalf of the people of Alabama, I extend my thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.” — Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.

“It's always tragic, but this is our main guy. Today when they introduced him, he got the biggest applause there. He's the man, he is NASCAR Winston Cup racing. We haven't had something like this happen. We've got a lot of work to do at the track in the next three weeks (for the March 11 Cracker Barrel 400), but I don't feel like doing anything. I'm just numb. I've lost a great friend.” — Ed Clark, president of Atlanta Motor Speedway.

“Like many others, we were fans of Dale Earnhardt — certainly the driver, but especially the man. In spite of our intense rivalry, Dale Earnhardt has been a great friend to us and to all who have helped to make this sport great. Dale Earnhardt transcended NASCAR. His loss will have an effect on racing and its fans worldwide.” — Dan Davis, director of Ford Racing Technology.