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Stewart Breaks Silence Over Tragic Accident

Stewart Breaks Silence Over Tragic Accident

by August 29, 2014 0 comments

Photo Credit: Wayne Thomas

HAMPTON, Ga. – Everyone in the NASCAR industry saw a rare, somber side of Tony Stewart on Friday as he addressed the media about the accident where his sprint car struck and killed 20-year old, Kevin Ward Jr. at Canandaigua Motorsports Park.

As Stewart straps in to his No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet this afternoon at Atlanta Motor Speedway in preparation for Sunday’s Oral-B USA 500, Kevin Ward Jr.’s family is deep in his heart. Stewart says that he has taken the last three weekends off out of respect for the family, as well as to get his mind back to normal or at least normal as possible.

NASCAR President, Mike Helton announced that if Tony Stewart were to get into position, then he would be awarded a spot in this year’s Chase. At the beginning of the year, the format for the Chase mentioned that a driver must attempt all races to become eligible, however, it also stated that depending on rare circumstances, a driver would be able to miss events and still contend for the championship. Last year, NASCAR added a spot to the Chase due to the events that took place at Richmond International Raceway between the Michael Waltrip Racing teams, but Mike Helton clearly said there are no current plans to add a 17th driver to this year’s Chase.

Helton said, “I’ll remind everybody back earlier this year when we announced the format for the ’14 Chase, that announcement included some responsibility about the routine participation in the season in order to be eligible in the Chase.

“Along with that importance of routine participation also came the asterisk, so to speak, about accepting rare incidents. This has been a very unique set of circumstances to Tony and to our sport. As the league, it’s our responsibility to try to make decisions that are correct and right. Sometimes we evaluate circumstances that are given us and then make those decisions as correctly as we can.

“After evaluating the circumstances around this occurrence, we’ve come to the conclusion that Tony would be eligible to participate in the Chase if he were to earn a spot in it.”

NASCAR relied on outside experts to determine if Stewart was ready to get back behind the wheel of the car this weekend. No descriptions of the outside sources were shared.

Helton said, “We received the ones that we felt were relevant under the circumstances”.

Tony Stewart is still under investigation, but NASCAR used the current circumstances to determine if Stewart could get back into the car and become Chase eligible. Once Tony Stewart told NASCAR that he was ready to get back into the seat, they went through the policies and procedures.

Stewart feels that getting back behind the wheel this weekend will help him personally cope with the emotional battle. He wants to better himself and support his employees back in Kannapolis, N.C. and his teammates he’s competing against this weekend. He says that one day he’ll discuss the accident, but at this moment, he’s not ready.

Tony Stewart’s Statement:

This has been one of the toughest tragedies I’ve ever had to deal with both professionally and personally. This is something that will definitely affect my life forever. This is a sadness and a pain that I hope no one ever has to experience in their life.

With that being said, I know that the pain and the mourning that Kevin Ward’s family and friends are experiencing is something that I can’t possibly imagine.

I want Kevin’s father, Kevin Sr., and his mother Pam, and his sisters Christi, Kayla, Katelyn, to know that every day I’m thinking about them and praying for them.

The racing community is a large family, as you guys know. Everyone’s saddened with this tragedy.

I want to thank all my friends and family for their support through this tough emotional time, and the support from the NASCAR community, my partners, all of our employees, it’s been overwhelming.

I’ve taken the last couple weeks off out of respect for Kevin and his family, and also to cope with the accident in my own way. It’s given me the time to think about life and how easy it is to take it for granted.

I miss my team, my teammates. I miss being back in the racecar. I think being back in the car this week with my racing family will help me get through this difficult time.

I also understand that all of you have many questions and want a lot of answers, however I need to respect the ongoing investigation process and cannot answer and address the questions at this time. Emotionally I’m not sure if I could answer them anyway.

We’re here to race this weekend, and I appreciate your respect. There will be a day when I can sit here and answer the questions. Thank you.

Hunter Thomas
Hunter Thomas is a journalist who grew up in Darlington, S.C. His first motorsports-based endeavor was working as the Public Relations Director at Dillon Motor Speedway in Dillon, S.C., and his journalism start came while he was freelancing at his hometown newspaper, the News & Press while in college.

Hunter has been working within the NASCAR industry since 2010, and throughout the years, he has done everything from PR/Marketing for drivers and teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, to working at Rockingham Speedway. As a journalist, Hunter has covered everything from regional short tracks to NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, World of Outlaws, Red Bull Global Rallycross, NHRA and much more.

Follow Hunter Thomas on Twitter by following, @HunterThomas08

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