Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon expressed concern he wouldn't be able to get enough speed from his car in the Las Vegas race where he died in a fiery 15-car pile-up.
In the Sunday crash that killed the English racing champion, Wheldon's car, travelling at over 220 miles per hour into a turn, climbed the back of racer Paul Tracy's vehicle and burst into flames, flipping over and slamming into a crash-fence above the track's retaining wall.
In a blog before the race by Wheldon posted on USA Today, the 33-year-old racer had expressed concern that he wasn't going to be able to climb to the speed needed, saying that he and his team "just didn't have the speed" at a recent race at the Kentucky Speedway.
"So far, things haven't been going very well as we've started our pursuit of the GoDaddy IndyCar Challenge this weekend … but I'm confident in the ability of the guys at Sam Schmidt Motorsports to find the problem and get it fixed," Wheldon wrote.
"It's actually been a very difficult weekend for us so far. Basically we carried over our problem from Kentucky Speedway, where we just didn't have the speed and never really found it."
In the blog Wheldon went on to express frustration that his No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins Magnolia/William Rast Dallara/Honda was three miles per hour off pace.
"If we start the race that far off the pace, it's going to be difficult to keep up," Wheldon wrote.
Sunday's pile-up happened just 11 laps into the final race of the Indycar season. The 34-car race made for a considerably crowded track, and drivers were speeding, even by Indy standards, reaching up to 225 mph.
For several long, shocking moments after the crash a number of cars were engulfed in flame as debris smacked the track so hard that workers would have to repair the asphalt.
"I saw two cars touch each other up in front of me and then I tried to slow down, couldn't slow down," driver Paul Tracy told ESPN. "Then Dan's car, from what I saw in the videos, came over my back wheel and over top of me. Just a horrendous accident."
Wheldon's car was thrown into the air and sailed into the "catch fence," designed to give cars a bit of cushion if they make impact. Workers almost immediately rushed to Wheldon's car, frantically waving for more help, but in the end, as Bernard described it, Wheldon's injuries were "unsurvivable."
Wheldon was airlifted from the Las Vegas track at 1:19 p.m. local time Sunday and taken to University Medical Hospital, becoming the first IndyCar driver to die on the track since rookie Paul Dana was killed in 2006.
Wheldon died surrounded by his wife Susie and sons, as well as two brothers and sister.
The crash also sent three fellow racers, including championship contender Will Power, to the hospital.
Wheldon was there competing to earn a $5 million bonus that was part of a league promotion for drivers who didn't compete full-time in the series this year. The only driver to accept the challenge, Wheldon would have split the money with Ann Bavenco, a randomly chosen fan.
A number of racers reportedly expressed concern earlier this week over the track's blinding speeds ahead of Sunday's IndyCar series final. At least one driver, Scottish racer Dario Franchitti, echoed those comments Sunday after the crash and before it was announced Wheldon died.