Stewart sits out amid investigation
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (AP) — Tony Stewart did not take part in the NASCAR race at Watkins Glen. He withdrew before the start of the race, hours after killing a dirt track racer during a race in upstate New York. The three-time champion struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr., who had climbed from his car and was on the darkened dirt track trying to confront Stewart during a race.
Ward had crashed following contact with Stewart one lap earlier and got out of his car as it was stopped along the fence. Video of the incident showed Ward walking from his crashed car onto the racing surface as cars circled by, and, as he gestured at Stewart’s passing car, he was struck.
Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero said that criminal charges have not been ruled out, but that investigators don’t have any evidence at this point in the investigation to support criminal intent.
Authorities questioned the 43-year-old Stewart once on Saturday night and went to Watkins Glen to talk to him again Sunday. They described him as “visibly shaken” after the crash and said he was cooperative.
The winner of the race was AJ Allmendinger, who picked up his first Sprint Cup victory. The victory made his one-car team for JTG Daugherty Racing eligible for the Chase for the Sprint Cup title.
In Allmendinger’s first TV interview after winning, he offered his condolences to the Ward family, saying “we’re a community here, we’re thinking about you.”
The race was marred by a multi-car crash that forced the race to stop as officials cleared the track of debris.