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Stewart’s status for Sunday’s NASCAR race still uncertain

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/13/19/56/1ftmO6.Em.138.jpeg|210
    Derik Hamilton - AP
    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.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/13/19/56/1bxMoH.Em.138.jpeg|230
    - AP
    This July 5, 2014 photo provided by Empire Super Sprints, Inc., shows sprint car driver Kevin Ward Jr., in the vicotry lane with his car at the Fulton Speedway in Fulton, N.Y. Ward was killed Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014 at the Canandaigua Motorsports Park in Central Square, N.Y., when the car being driven by Tony Stewart struck the 20-year-old who had climbed from his crashed car and was on the darkened dirt track trying to confront Stewart following a bump with Stewart one lap earlier.

It’s still unclear if Tony Stewart will compete in Sunday’s NASCAR race at Michigan International Speedway.

“Tony hasn’t made a decision and there is no timetable,” Stewart spokesman Mike Arning said Wednesday in a text message to the Observer.

Stewart has not raced since Saturday, when the sprint car he was driving struck and killed 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr. at a dirt track in upstate New York. Stewart did not race Sunday at Watkins Glen, N.Y., and has pulled out of a scheduled dirt-track race Saturday in Plymouth, Ind.

Also, in a story posted on Syracuse.com, Ward’s father said he doesn’t understand why a driver as talented as Stewart was involved in a crash that killed his son.

“Tony Stewart was the best damn driver by far on the track that night,” Kevin Ward Sr. told the website. “Why he had to go up as high as he did and hog my son, there’s no reason for it.”

The cars of Ward Jr. and Stewart had tangled in Turn 2 of the half-mile track at Canandaigua Motorsports Park, with Ward’s car spinning into the wall and placing the race under caution. Ward left his car and walked down the track, gesturing toward Stewart as his car came toward Ward. The right side of Stewart’s car hit Ward, knocking him several yards down the track.

“I think the reason he probably got out of that car is who put him in the wall,” said Ward Sr. “He was definitely put into the wall.”

Ward Sr. told Syracuse.com that he and his wife watched for 45 minutes as emergency workers performed CPR on their son. After driving to F.F. Thompson Hospital in Canandaigua, where his son had been taken, they were told Kevin Jr. had died.

Ward Sr. said his son first began driving a go-kart around a homemade track in their backyard in Port Leyden, N.Y., when he was 4.

He said his son won about 350 trophies over the years, quickly working his way up to driving 360 sprint cars in the Empire Super Sprint Series.

On Tuesday, the sheriff in Ontario (N.Y.) County said an investigation into the crash is expected to continue for at least another two weeks and that no criminal charges against Stewart are pending.

A visitation for Ward was scheduled for Wednesday at a funeral home in Boonville, N.Y. Thursday’s funeral will be at South Lewis High, Ward’s alma mater, near Port Leyden.

Scott: 704-358-5889; Twitter: @davidscott14
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