NASCAR driver Tony Stewart has released a statement concerning his tragic accident with Kevin Ward Jr.
Ward, 20, died from injuries sustained when Stewart’s vehicle hit him during the Empire Super Sprints series event at Canandaigua Motorsports Park.
Ward was walking toward the three-time NASCAR champion car after an earlier on-track incident.
In a statement released by spokesman Mike Arning, Stewart says “my thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and everyone affected by this tragedy.”
Tony Stewart says “there aren’t words” to describe his sadness over the accident that killed Kevin Ward Jr.
Stewart says “It’s 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.”
The decision was an about-face for his racing team, which said earlier Sunday that Stewart would be behind the wheel of his No. 14 Chevrolet when the green flag waved.
Regan Smith drove Stewart’s car instead.
Greg Zipadelli, competition director for Stewart-Haas Racing of which Stewart belongs, said: “We gave Tony some time to sleep on it. He feels strongly this is the right thing to do.”
“All you can do is what you feel is right, and we feel this is right.
“We get through today and do it the best we can as a group.
“[Stewart’s] going through a tough time. It’s emotional for him.”
On his website, Kevin Ward Jr. is described as a promising racer, with “racing in his blood” since he started out with a go-kart at age four.
NASCAR released a statement on the tragic event:
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends, and fellow competitors of Kevin Ward Jr.
“We support Tony Stewart’s decision to miss today’s race and we will continue to respect the process and timeline of the local authorities and will continue to monitor this situation moving forward.”
Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero said that Stewart has been cooperative with the investigations, and there are no “criminal charges pending.”