Carry On

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Death is something all of us share but is the hardest thing to deal with when it hits. And it's particularly tough when death strikes suddenly, as it did on Sunday when the lives of ten Hendrick Motorsports' family, friends and co-workers were taken in one tragic moment.

The NASCAR community has an extraordinary knack for rallying together in times like these. There isn't a sport in the world where the compeititors speak of themselves as a family. They battle fiercely on the track nearly 40 times a year, but when the engines are quiet there are friendships and family bonds that are some of the strongest in the world.

NASCAR racing is unlike any other professional sport. There are 43 different teams that spend more than 10 months a year together. It's impossible to spend that much time without developing a sense of community, friendship and family. So when something tragic happens to one, it happens to all.

The outpouring of support from drivers, team owners, track officials and others has been nothing less than heartbreaking. You can hear it and feel it in every word that's spoken or printed as the community tries to find some way to let their comrade know how much they care.

"Ann and I have lost some great friends, and our hearts are broken for all of their families," said Ken Schrader, who was a member of the Hendrick family for nine years. "While we are grateful for the time we had with them, we will miss them greatly. Through nine years of working for Rick Hendrick, his family became our family. It's incredibly hard right now; we just need to keep our thoughts and prayers with all of the families involved. As much as they did for our sport, it can't begin to compare with how they touched our lives."

"Rick, I know you're not going to sit around and look at stories on the Internet for a while, but when you read this one, buddy, I just want you to know that I love you, I care about you and I'm here for you," wrote FOX broadcaster and former Hendrick driver Darrell Waltrip. "Whatever you need, if I can make it happen, I'll do everything in my power. If I can carry some of the pain and some of the grief, I'll be right there by your side. I love you. You're a great friend, and I'm sorry."

I've been around racing my whole life. I've experienced tragedy within my own family as well as the extended one I've joined within the racing community. It's never an easy thing to say I'm sorry and that I understand, but for those who have suffered the loss, whether they know it now or not, it's what family does for one another.

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2004

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