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NASCAR Driver Tony Stewart Returning to Racing After Kevin Ward Jr.'s Death: 'This Will Affect My Life Forever'

NASCAR driver Tony Stewart leads a press conference prior to practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 held at the Atlanta Motor Speedway on Friday (August 29) in Hampton, Georgia.

The 43-year-old racer will be returning to the race track for the first time since striking and killing sprint car racer Kevin Ward Jr. earlier in the month.

“This has been one of the toughest tragedies that I’ve ever had to deal with… both professional and personally, and this is something that will definitely affect my life forever,” Tony said. “This is a sadness and a pain I hope no one has to experience in their life. That being said, I know that the pain and the mourning that Kevin Ward’s family and his friends are experiencing, is something I can’t possibly imagine.”

“I’ve taken the last couple of weeks off out of respect for Kevin and his family and to cope with the accident my own way. It’s given me the time to think about life and how easy it is to take it for granted,” Tony added. “I miss my team, my teammates, and I miss being back in the race car. And I think being back in the car this week with my racing family will help me get through this difficult time.”

Tony Stewart: No Criminal Charges for Death of Kevin Ward Jr.

NASCAR star Tony Stewart will not be facing criminal charges in the death of Sprint car racer Kevin Ward Jr.

“At this moment there are no facts or evidence that would support a criminal charge or criminal intent,” Sheriff Phillip C. Povero said in a news conference on Sunday afternoon (August 10).

“This is right now being investigated as an on-track crash, and I don’t want to infer that there are criminal charges pending,” Povero added. “When the investigation is completed, we will sit down with the district attorney and review it. But I want to make it very clear: There are no criminal charges pending at this time.”

Here is the statement that Tony released following the tragedy: “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.”

NASCAR's Tony Stewart Will NOT Race One Day After Fatal Accident That Killed Kevin Ward Jr.

Tony Stewart is officially not driving at the Watkins Glen International race on Sunday (August 10), a day after his sprint car struck and killed fellow racer Kevin Ward Jr.

“From @StewartHaasRcng’s VP of Competition: Tony Stewart will not race today at @WGI,” NASCAR confirmed via Twitter.

Earlier in the day, it was still up in the air as to whether the 43-year-old driver would get behind the wheel.

“NASCAR spokesman says they are still gathering facts, but as of now there is nothing that would preclude Tony Stewart from racing today,” USA Today‘s Jeff Gluck tweeted. “NASCAR spokesman clarifies it’s too early in process to say whether Tony Stewart will race today. NASCAR still gathering info, he says.”

In case you missed the news, the fatal accident took place during a dirt-track event at the Canandaigua Speedway on Saturday (August 9) in Canandaigua, N.Y. Tony‘s team has released a statement about the ongoing investigation.

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Tony Stewart's Racing Team Releases Statement After Accident

A spokesman for Tony Stewart‘s racing team, Stewart-Haas Racing, has released a statement following the tragic accident that driver was involved in on Saturday (August 9) in Upstate N.Y.

“A tragic accident took place last night during a sprint car race in which Tony Stewart was participating,” spokesman Mike Arning said (via USA Today). “Tony was unhurt, but a fellow competitor lost his life. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. We’re still attempting to sort through all the details and we appreciate your understanding during this difficult time.”

20-year-old driver Kevin Ward, Jr. died in the accident after he got out of his car on the track in the middle of the race and rushed at Tony‘s car.

“This is an ongoing investigation of an on-track crash,” Sheriff Philip C. Povero said, adding that Tony has been cooperative and that the investigation is not criminal. “Next is continuing interviews, a continued evaluation of evidence we have, including video, and there is certainly going to be an evaluation of medical evidence when it is collected from the autopsy.”

We continue to send out our thoughts to Kevin‘s loved ones during this difficult time.

Kevin Ward Jr. Dead at 20 After Being Hit by Racer Tony Stewart

Kevin Ward Jr. has died after being hit by race car driver Tony Stewart during a dirt track race event on Saturday evening (August 9) in Canandaigua, N.Y.

While racing in his car, the 20-year-old driver was hit by Tony‘s car during the race and he spun out of control.

Kevin then decided to get out of the car and ran towards Tony‘s car as he made the next lap around the track. He was clipped by the car and dragged under it for several yards.

The Ontario County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that Kevin was declared dead upon arrival at the hospital, which was 45 minutes after the accident happened.

Mr. Stewart has cooperated with the investigation, which is ongoing,” the release stated. “He is very upset and confirmed his continuing cooperation.”

An eyewitness detailed the tragic crash after it happened and told of a horrible scene that he saw. Video also surfaced from the accident.

We send out our thoughts and condolences to Kevin‘s family during this time.