Stewart never considered retiring after Ward death

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Stewart never considered retiring after Ward death
Sprint Cup drivers Tony Stewart, right, and Ryan Newman, left, share a laugh prior to qualifying at the Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Va., Friday, March 27, 2015. Rain delayed the practice and qualifying for Sunday's STP 500 Sprint Cup race. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
MARTINSVILLE, VA - MARCH 28: Tony Stewart drives the #14 Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Chevrolet through the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 28, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Sprint Cup driver Tony Stewart gets into his car prior to qualifying at the Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Va., Friday, March 27, 2015. Rain delayed the practice and qualifying for Sunday's STP 500 Sprint Cup race. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
FONTANA, CA - MARCH 20: Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Rush Truck Centers/ Mobil 1 Chevrolet, climbs into his car prior to qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2015 in Fontana, California. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Tony Stewart high-fives race fans before the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship series auto race, Sunday, Nov. 16,2014 in Homestead, Fla. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
Danica Patrick, followed by Tony Stewart, greets fans before the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship series auto race, Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014, in Homestead, Fla. (AP Photo/David Graham)
Tony Stewart prepares for the Ford EcoBoost 400 auto race practice, Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 in Homestead, Fla. (AP Photo/Jim Topper)
Tony Stewart prepares for the Ford EcoBoost 400 auto race practice, Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014 in Homestead, Fla. (AP Photo/Jim Topper)
Tony Stewart takes turn four during practice session for the NASCAR auto race Ford EcoBoost 400 in Homestead, Fla., Friday, Nov. 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Jim Topper)
NASCAR driver Tony Stewart gets in his car before practice at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Friday, Nov. 14, 2014, in Homestead, Fla. (AP Photo/David Graham)
Danica Patrick followed by Tony Stewart high-five race fans before the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship series auto race, Sunday, Nov. 16,2014 in Homestead, Fla. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
Sprint Cup Series driver Tony Stewart waves to the crowd before the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup auto race at Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014, in Hampton, Ga. Stewart was racing for the first time since being involved in a fatal dirt track accident in upstate New York. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Tony Stewart (14) drives into the first turn at the NASCAR Sprint Cup auto race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014, in Hampton, Ga. Stewart was racing for the first time since his car struck and killed a fellow driver during a sprint race in New York three weeks ago. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Sprint Cup Series driver Tony Stewart (14) drives his damaged car to the garage after hitting the wall during a NASCAR Sprint Cup auto race at Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014, in Hampton, Ga.. (AP Photo/Joe Sebo)
Sprint Cup Series driver Tony Stewart (14) looks over the damage to his car after he hit the wall during a NASCAR Sprint Cup auto race at Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014, in Hampton, Ga.. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
HAMPTON, GA - AUGUST 31: Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet, walks through the garage area with NASCAR security after an on track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 31, 2014 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Nick Laham/NASCAR via Getty Images)
HAMPTON, GA - AUGUST 31: Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet, walks through the garage area with NASCAR security after an on track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 31, 2014 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Nick Laham/NASCAR via Getty Images)
HAMPTON, GA - AUGUST 31: Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet, races during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 31, 2014 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)
HAMPTON, GA - AUGUST 31: Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet, pulls into his garage stall after being involved in an on-track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 31, 2014 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Nick Laham/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Sprint Cup Series driver Tony Stewart (14) gets a tire during an NASCAR Sprint Cup auto race at Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014, in Hampton, Ga. Stewart was racing for the first time since being involved in a fatal dirt track incident in N.Y. (AP Photo/Bryn Anderson)
A fan shows his support for Sprint Cup Series driver Tony Stewart before the start of an NASCAR Sprint Cup auto race at Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014, in Hampton, Ga. Stewart was racing for the first time since being involved in a fatal dirt track incident in upstate New York. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
In this Friday, Aug. 8, 2014 photograph, Tony Stewart stands in the garage area after a practice session for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Watkins Glen International, in Watkins Glen N.Y. Stewart struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr., 20, a sprint car driver who had climbed from his car and was on the track trying to confront Stewart during a race at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in upstate New York on Saturday night. Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero said his department's investigation is not criminal and that Stewart was "fully cooperative" and appeared "very upset" over what had happened. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)
Video: NASCAR's Tony Stewart Hits And Kills Kevin Ward Jr After He Got Out Of Car To Complain http://t.co/2JiTbHd7Aj http://t.co/d4JAV8Mbiq
Sheriff says #TonyStewart investigation is not criminal. Stewart hits, kills driver on track. http://t.co/gGjTJkrmTK http://t.co/p8HovWh2ax
Driver Tony Stewart walks in the pit area after a practice session for the NASCAR Sprint Cup series Quicken Loans 400 auto race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich., Friday, June 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Pic from witness of Sheriff's Deputies at Stewart's sprint car #TonyStewart http://t.co/Dfd8mp27x7
WATKINS GLEN, NY - AUGUST 08: Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International on August 8, 2014 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
WATKINS GLEN, NY - AUGUST 08: Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, looks on in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International on August 8, 2014 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Driver Tony Stewart talks with his crew after practice for Sunday's Sprint Cup Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Saturday, July 12, 2014 in Loudon, NH (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Tony Stewart prepares to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Texas Motor Speedway Monday, April 7, 2014, in Fort Worth, Texas. (AP Photo/Ralph Lauer)
TURIN, NY - AUGUST 14: General view of a shirt for Kevin Ward Jr. is shown outside of South Lewis Senior High School following the funeral service on August 14, 2014 in Turin, New York. Ward was killed August 9, when he exited his car during a dirt track race and was struck by a car driven by NASCAR driver Tony Stewart. (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)
TURIN, NY - AUGUST 14: Mourners let balloons go following the funeral service for Kevin Ward Jr. at South Lewis Senior High School on August 14, 2014 in Turin, New York. Ward was killed August 9, when he exited his car during a dirt track race and was struck by a car driven by NASCAR driver Tony Stewart. (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)
TURIN, NY - AUGUST 14: Pallbearers help to carry the casket of sprint car driver Kevin Ward Jr. at South Lewis Senior High School on August 14, 2014 in Turin, New York. Ward was killed August 9, when he exited his car during a dirt track race and was struck by a car driven by NASCAR driver Tony Stewart. (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)
TURIN, NY - AUGUST 14: Pallbearers help to carry the casket of sprint car driver Kevin Ward Jr. at South Lewis Senior High School on August 14, 2014 in Turin, New York. Ward was killed August 9, when he exited his car during a dirt track race and was struck by a car driven by NASCAR driver Tony Stewart. (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)
TURIN, NY - AUGUST 14: a man walks past a hearse during the funeral service for sprint car driver Kevin Ward Jr. on August 14, 2014 in Turin, New York. Ward was killed August 9, when he exited his car during a dirt track race and was struck by a car driven by NASCAR driver Tony Stewart. (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)
Canandaigua Motorsports Park is seen Monday, Aug. 11, 2014, in Canandaigua, N.Y. On Saturday night, Tony Stewart struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr., 20, a sprint car driver who had climbed from his car and was on the track trying to confront Stewart during a race at the track in upstate New York. Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero said his department's investigation is not criminal and that Stewart was "fully cooperative" and appeared "very upset" over what had happened. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
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By JENNA FRYER

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (AP) -- Tony Stewart said Monday he never considered retiring from racing following the death of Kevin Ward Jr.

The three-time NASCAR champion talked with reporters Monday at his first news conference since a grand jury decided last week not to charge him in Ward's death. The 20-year-old driver was struck and killed by Stewart's car during a sprint car race in upstate New York on Aug. 9.

"This is what I've done all my life. This is what I've done for 36 years, and I wouldn't change anything about it," he said. "I love what I do. I love driving race cars, but I think it might change right now as far as how much of it and what I do, but there was never a thought in my head about stopping. That would take the life out of me."

Stewart took 29 questions over 36 minutes at Stewart-Haas Racing, but did not discuss what he remembers about the incident that killed Ward. He has been advised by legal counsel not to discuss it because he still could face a civil lawsuit from Ward's family.

He admitted he's not been properly engaged with the four-car race team he co-owns. He missed three races following Ward's death as he secluded himself at his Indiana home, but has been back since the Aug. 31 race at Atlanta.

The 43-year-old Stewart didn't earn a berth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, but teammates Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch both made the 16-driver field. Busch was eliminated Sunday at Dover.

Stewart, who barely watched the three races he missed, said he has not been the leader he'd like to be for his team.

"I've let my team down from that standpoint. I've been a little bit of a cheerleader, but that's about all I've been able to contribute here the last seven weeks," he said. "It's been hard for me to function day-to-day. There hasn't been anything normal about my life the last seven weeks, so it's been very hard to try to do anything to be productive to help those guys."

Stewart has also been absent from the sprint car teams he owns via Tony Stewart Racing, and from the three race tracks he owns. He has watched his drivers compete online and watched several nights of racing at Eldora Speedway on his computer, but has not been a part of any of his businesses.

He was appreciative of the support he's received from sponsors, particularly Mobil 1, Bass Pro Shops and Rush Truck Centers, but acknowledged it's been difficult on the companies. Stewart also missed the final 15 races of the 2013 season with a broken leg suffered in a sprint car crash last August.

"It's obviously a tough circumstance for anybody to be a part of it, for a corporation to be part of it as well, but they've been very supportive through this whole process," he said. "I can't speak to what the future will be for them. They've been supportive to this point and that's something I've been very grateful for."

Stewart has been receiving professional help to cope with Ward's death. Asked Monday if he could go back and change anything about the last seven weeks, Stewart said he would not have gone to Canandaigua Motorsports Park for what turned into a tragic sprint car race.

"I'd have stayed at Watkins Glen that night," he said. "You know, I do this stuff and I go run those cars to have a good time and that's all I wanted to do that night. I wanted to go have fun. It wasn't a big paying race for sprint car standards. I just wanted to go run my sprint car for a night. I do it to have fun, and it didn't end up being fun that night."

Stewart told The Associated Press last week that he had lost his desire to race sprint cars and he repeated that Monday.

"When I got hurt, it was as soon as I got healed, and as soon as things got settled in with the Cup car I was set that I was wanting to get in one," he said, "but right now, I wouldn't even be able to give you a small idea of if and when I'll ever get back in a car."

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