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Stewart returning to competition after fatal crash

Tony Stewart Will Race Sunday At Atlanta

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Tony Stewart will return to Sprint Cup competition Sunday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway, ending a three-race hiatus taken after he struck and killed a fellow driver during a dirt-track race.

The three-time NASCAR champion has not raced since his car hit Kevin Ward Jr. at an Aug. 9 sprint car event in upstate New York. Stewart pulled out of the NASCAR race at Watkins Glen the next morning, then skipped races at Michigan and Bristol Motor Speedway.

Stewart, who was described by police as "visibly shaken" the night of Ward's death, has been in seclusion ever since. Stewart-Haas Racing executive vice president Brett Frood has said the emphasis was on giving Stewart time needed to get him "in a better place than he is."

Stewart's only comment since the crash was a statement the day after the crash in which he said "there aren't words to describe the sadness I feel about the accident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr."

Ward had climbed from his car after it had spun while racing for position with Stewart. The 20-year-old walked down onto the racing surface waving his arms in an apparent attempt to confront Stewart.

Authorities said the first car to pass Ward had to swerve to miss hitting him. The front of Stewart's car then appeared to clear Ward, but Ward was struck by the right rear tire and hurtled through the air. He died of blunt force trauma.

Stewart will return with a decision pending on whether he will be charged in Ward's death. Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero has said investigators did not have any evidence to support criminal intent by Stewart. Povero said Thursday the investigation is still ongoing.

Meanwhile, the 43-year-old NASCAR superstar will move forward with his career and attempt to salvage his season.

NASCAR released a statement saying that Stewart was eligible to return because he "has received all necessary clearances required to return to all racing activities." NASCAR said it would have no further comment until President Mike Helton speaks Friday afternoon.

Stewart, who has 48 career Cup wins in 542 starts, is one of the biggest stars in the garage. His peers have been protective of him as questions emerged in the aftermath of the crash, and it pained them that Stewart was grieving in private and had cut off communication with so many of them. He will talk to the media for the first time since the fatal crash on Friday.

NASCAR rules state a driver must attempt to either qualify or race the car in every points-paying event to be eligible for Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, unless a waiver is granted. There was no immediate word if NASCAR would grant that waiver.

Since Ward's death, NASCAR has announced a rule that prohibits drivers from exiting from a crashed or disabled vehicle - unless it is on fire - until safety personnel arrive. Last week, Denny Hamlin crashed while leading at Bristol and stayed in his car until safety personnel arrived.

But Hamlin then exited his vehicle and angrily tossed a safety device at Kevin Harvick as he passed by moments later. He was not penalized.

Join the discussion

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Bob August 28 2014 at 10:48 PM

Stewart should resume racing. It was an unfortunate accident. Stewart has graciously been off the track for a reasonable amount of time.
He will live with it forever, leave him alone.

Flag Reply +42 rate up
4 replies
flyingfortresb17 August 28 2014 at 10:40 PM

I feel sorry fr the kid and his parents but he was irresponsible for leaving his car and running into the track.

Flag Reply +38 rate up
1 reply
randmhunley flyingfortresb17 August 29 2014 at 12:26 AM


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drsreflect August 28 2014 at 11:11 PM

Ward made a very fatal mistake. He got out of a car on a dirt track in blinding dust. This is a very deadly combination. You do not go out on the dirt track (or anytrack for that matter ) on foot with oncoming cars. People die. I speak from personal knowl;edge. It was an accident and unfortunately fatal. As mentioned, tony will live withthis forever.

Flag Reply +23 rate up
2 replies
hattie54 drsreflect August 29 2014 at 6:59 AM

And Ward's Father was blaming everyone but his son.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
3 replies
langkev drsreflect August 29 2014 at 2:44 PM

Ward also made the mistake of thinking that Tony would slow down for the yellow and move to the inside when Tony clearly knew there was an accident up high. And Kevin made the mistake of not thinking that Tony would try to drive by very close to spin dirt on him. Kevin made a lot of mistakes. However Tony also made mistakes and is not a completely innocent by-stander. tragic all around.

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biffcove August 28 2014 at 10:45 PM

I don't like Stewart but I don't think he intended to run over this ypung man.

Flag Reply +20 rate up
1 reply
langkev biffcove August 29 2014 at 2:22 PM

I agree he did not intend to.. but he did.. and there is no good reason for him to return this year.. he is out of the chase and can easily get another driver to keep the cash flow coming in. Some will cheer his return.. many will boo it.. but the person who will get the biggest cheers from almost everyone will be the driver who puts him into the wall early in the race.. out of respect and to show he was truly impacted by this he should have stayed away until next year. But that would take class and a check of his ego.. nothing good can come of him returning so soon.. but let the games begin.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
aftcoengineering August 28 2014 at 11:53 PM

roseyoungstewart you may not comprehend the reaction of these cars which have a locked rear end and do not turn like family car.
Calling a closed course competitor a murderer when the conditions did not allow for the young man to be on the track is at a very minimum ignorant.

Flag Reply +18 rate up
entheoscht August 28 2014 at 11:26 PM

I wonder if Kevin Ward ever just ran out onto a busy freeway for fun?
Would make about as much sense as stepping out of his car on a race track.
Bad judgement on his part does NOT constitute a violation on Tony Stewart's part.

Flag Reply +18 rate up
chuck August 28 2014 at 10:35 PM

go tony, ou didnt do anything wrong. it was his fault for going out on the track.

Flag Reply +17 rate up
3 replies
autounionbailout August 28 2014 at 10:54 PM


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3 replies
Erbie's August 28 2014 at 11:49 PM

Don't see any problem here. The dude got out of his car, the first no, no. Walked out into the track making everyone dodge him second no no, Stewart missed him but the rear of the car hit him, how much does cars slide when they are there on that track, how much did Stewart have to turn that car to cause it to slide to avoid hitting the dude. As far as I have seen it was idiotic suicide.

Flag Reply +12 rate up
2 replies
darinw40 Erbie's August 29 2014 at 5:26 AM

if you looked at the video, stewart fishtailed his rear tires away from him, trying to avoid hitting him, but unfortunately, stupid is as stupid does and he got hit anyway

Flag Reply +2 rate up
Doug Erbie's August 29 2014 at 11:07 AM

You need to learn to write. Don't they have any schools in that trailer park paradise you line in?

Flag Reply 0 rate up
1 reply
KKloeckner Doug August 29 2014 at 12:15 PM

you can't spell live so you have no room to talk .

Flag 0 rate up
spoylr4u August 28 2014 at 11:43 PM

It's about time that Tony's sponsors gave him the okay to go back to racing. They weren't going to let him come back too soon as not to appear "insensitive".

Flag Reply +7 rate up
1 reply
Perry spoylr4u August 29 2014 at 4:47 AM

Tony Stewarts sponsors did not ground him. He voluntarily grounded himself.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
Carol Perry August 29 2014 at 7:26 AM

That is right!!!

Flag +2 rate up
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