ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) — While many fans reacted in disbelief to the news that three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart struck and killed a Sprint car driver during a race in upstate New York on Saturday night, some North Texas dirt track drivers have been quick to defend their fellow drivers and their sport.

“I couldn’t see, not only Tony, but any driver doing something like that maliciously,” said Sprint car driver Shawn Petersen, who also owns Print Place Motorsports. “I think what happened was just the wrong set of extenuating circumstances.”

Petersen said drivers are very competitive and it’s not unusual in races for a driver to lose his cool.

“I’ve seen guys throw steering wheels. I’ve seen guys throw helmets,” said Petersen. “I’ve even seen guys get out of their cars before.”

Petersen has challenged racing fans on his Facebook page to do something positive with their emotions and donate to the Steve King Foundation to help the family of killed driver Kevin Ward Jr..

Petersen wrote on his Facebook page:

Picking sides, pointing fingers, punishing Tony or Kevin or the track does substantially NOTHING. This will not improve our sport, this does not help racers or their families. Participate in something that will HELP our sport and the drivers you all love. (never know when it could be you!)

The Steve King Foundation is a non-profit organization that works to “provide assistance to race car drivers, pit crew members, racing officials and track operations personnel who are involved in dirt track racing and are seriously ill, severely injured or killed.”

Petersen has pledged to match up to $10,000 in donations.

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