Tony Stewart will not compete in a previously scheduled Sprint Car event at Indiana’s Plymouth Speedway on Saturday, August 16, track officials announced Monday.
Stewart, a three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion was involved in an incident that left 20-year-old New York driver Kevin Ward, Jr. dead during a Empire Super Sprints event at New York’s Canandaigua Motorsports Park on August 9.
Ward, 20 years old and a four-time winner in the Empire Super Sprints, tangled with Stewart on the track, causing Ward’s car to hit the outside retaining wall in turn two. After coming to a stop, Ward exited his car and began walking and gesturing towards Stewart’s still-moving car during a yellow flag period. The car driven by Stewart made contact with the on-foot Ward and his body was thrown several feet from the initial site of the incident.
Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero said after the incident Ward was transported by ambulance to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Stewart, a longtime dirt racing driver and team owner, is widely known for his passion for dirt racing outside of being a driver and owner in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Stewart did not compete in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Watkins Glen International, approximately an hour away from Canandaigua.
Povero, in a press conference Sunday, stated several times that there are no pending criminal charges against Stewart at that time.
“This is an ongoing investigation,” said Povero. “We will continue to review video and other evidence, as well as conduct interviews and also wait for the results of the autopsy. Mr. Stewart has fully cooperated with the police officers that are investigating. He was visibly shaken by this incident and has promised his continuing cooperation in this investigation.”
Stewart, after initial media reports indicating that he would compete in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Watkins Glen, did not race and was replaced by Regan Smith. Stewart’s only public response to the incident came through a statement released Sunday.
“There aren’t words to describe the sadness I feel about the accident that took the life of Kevin Ward, Jr.,” Stewart said in the statement. “It is a very emotional time for all involved, and it is the reason I’ve decided not to participate in today’s race at Watkins Glen. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and everyone affected by this tragedy.”
Ward’s parents, according to WHAM-13 in Rochester, New York, were in attendance when their son was struck on the track.
The Ward family released the following statement Sunday.
“We appreciate the prayers and support we are receiving from the community, but we need time to grieve and wrap our heads around all of this.”
Monday, the website of the Empire Sprint Series posted funeral arrangements for Kevin Ward, Jr. The funeral service will take place at the Trainor Funeral Home in Boonville, New York, with visitation scheduled for Wednesday from 1 to 4pm and 6-9pm and the funeral Thursday at 11am.
Bob Dillner, owner of Speed51.com and NASCAR on FOX Sports broadcaster, along with the rest of the NASCAR on FOX Sports team will have the latest on the investigation and more on Monday’s edition of Race Hub at 5pm ET on FOX Sports 1.
– By Matt Kentfield, Speed51.com Executive Director. Photo credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images