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Nascar death: Driver Stewart talks

2014-09-30 11:35

'I CAN'T STOP RACING' Nascar driver Tony Stewart spoke candidly at a news media conference on Sept 29 2014 and said he had never considered giving up racing before his car killed Kevin Ward. Image: AFP / Grant Halverson


KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina - Racing is everything to Nascar driver Tony Stewart but now his future might be in limbo since the drama of killing a fellow driver during a race has become a neverending nightmare.

Stewart said on Monday he had never considered retiring from racing after the death of Kevin Ward but might he have to think twice about his career future?

The three-times Nascar champion was addressing reporters on Monday (Sept 29 2014) during his first news conference since a US grand jury decided last week not to charge him over Ward's death.

The 20-year-old driver was struck and killed by Stewart's car during a car race in upstate New York on August 9 2014.


"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," Stewart 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 remembered about the incident that killed Ward. His lawyers advised him not to because he could still have to defend a civil suit 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 after Ward's death while in seclusion 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 team mates 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 had 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 bit of a cheerleader but that's about all I've been able to contribute here the last seven weeks. It's been hard for me to function day-to-day. There hasn't been anything normal about my life the last seven weeks."

Stewart has also been absent from the sprint-car teams he owns thrugh Tony Stewart Racing and from the three race tracks he owns. He's 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 appreciated the support from sponsors but acknowledged it'd been difficult on the companies. Stewart also missed the final 15 races of the 2013 season thanks to a leg broken in a sprint-car crash last August.

"It's tough 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 on 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 the 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 car for a night. I do it to have fun - it didn't end up being fun that night."

Stewart told Associated Press last week that he had lost his desire to race sprint cars and he repeated that on 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."
Read more on:    tony stewart  |  new york  |  motorsport

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