NASCAR Driver Tony Stewart makes first comment after hitting, ki - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

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NASCAR Driver Tony Stewart makes first comment after hitting, killing driver

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Three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart made his first public comment Sunday after hitting and killing another driver during a race Saturday night:

"There aren't words to describe the sadness I feel about the accident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr. 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. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and everyone affected by this tragedy.”

Stewart's team, Stewart-Haas Racing, released the comment.

During a race at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in upstate New York, Stewart caused 20-year-old Kevin Ward, Jr. to spin out at the half-mile dirt track. Ward got out of his car to confront Stewart, but he was then struck by Stewart's car. Ward was then confirmed dead at a hospital in Canandaigua.
According to ESPN, Regan Smith will race in place of Stewart at Watkins Glen Sunday. Stewart-Haas racing told ESPN it was Stewart's decision not to race, and it supports his decision.

Stewart is currently under investigation following the incident. Authorities said he was "visibly shaken" by the accident, and remains cooperative in the investigation.

Video released from the crash shows Ward's car spinning, and then hitting a wall after coming into contact with Stewart's car. ESPN reports Ward was sent flying through the air, and then emergency crews rushed over to him as he lied on the track.

Sponsors, racers and others in the NASCAR community are sending thoughts and condolences to the Ward family. Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s twitter account reflects this statement: "We will all lose someone in our time. When a loss is sudden and unexpected, the pain & sadness is suffocating. Prayers for the Ward family."

According to ESPN, Stewart suffered from an accident in Iowa nearly a year ago in which he fractured his right leg. ESPN also reports Stewart was involved in a 15-car accident last year, causing a 19-year-old driver to fracture her back. Stewart returned to Sprint track racing last month.

Just last week, Stewart made an appearance in Iowa when he watched the Knoxville Nationals Tuesday; Knoxville is roughly 45 minutes south of Des Moines. According to ESPN, Stewart tweeted that day: "Thank you to everyone that worked so hard to get me back to where I'm at today. It's your life, live it!"

Despite Stewart not racing Sunday, he can still make the NASCAR Sprint Chase if he wins before the Chase. Including Sunday's Watkins Glen, there are five races before the Chase, which will be held Sept. 12-14 at Chicagoland Speedway.

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