Get the latest Tony Stewart news, media, stats, and standings for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver only on the official site of NASCAR.
Get the latest Tony Stewart news, media, stats, and standings for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver only on the official site of NASCAR.
Cain: Three-time premier series champ battered, but not defeated Tony Stewart had just returned to his motor coach after debriefing with crew chief Chad Johnston following opening practice at Homestead-Miami Speedway . The upside of practice was that three of the four Stewart -Haas Racin g team cars were among the top 10 fastest on the speed chart. The downside: Stewart was not one of them. So the face of the team, a beloved three-time champion of the sport, ran his hands through his noticeably longer, noticeably grayer hair and sighed -- managing just a slight corner-of-the-mouth smile. "I didn't have this gray hair two years ago,'' he said, shaking his head and allowing just a trace of his trademark dry wit to appear. During this rare late season interview Stewart's voice was soft and subdued. His body language spoke more loudly, his emotions still tangible and heavy. Stewart has spent much of the last two seasons broken in body and in heart, his strong spirit battered. In August 2013 Stewart suffered a broken right leg in a sprint car accident, the fractures to his tibia and fibula forcing him out of his No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet for the remaining 15 races of NASCAR's Sprint Cup season. Still recovering from that injury and walking with a noticeable limp, Stewart started out 2014 assuring everyone that he was ready to race, insisting that his leg hurt more out of the race car than in it. The Stewart -like results weren't immediate, but he reminded people that there was a new rules package for which he had to adjust and a new crew chief with whom to get in sync. He preached patience, not panic. This summer, by the one-year anniversary of his leg injury, Stewart had already begun entering sprint car races again sporadically, in a low-key manner. It was an important personal milestone -- both physically and emotionally. Racing sprint cars is where Stewart is happiest. No pressure, just fun. It's his golf game, his family, his joy. When he shows up -- mostly unannounced -- for one of the Friday or Saturday night shows at some random, small-town dirt track, he is the first to offer financial assistance to the struggling young racer in the pits next to him. Stewart well remembers what it was like to need that one break. Just as often, it's a piece of advice or a supporting pat on the back from Stewart that will make that racer's night and provide a rocking chair moment in 50 years. That passion is what makes the Aug. 9, 2014, incident so hard to endure -- then and now. While competing on a Saturday night in upstate New York during the Sprint Cup race weekend at Watkins Glen, New York, Stewart was involved in a bizarre and tragic accident. Another driver upset after crashing out of the race, 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr., got out of his sprint car and walked down the track toward the racing line to confront Stewart as he drove by. Stewart's car struck Ward, who died of his injuries. Stewart took most of the next month off from NASCAR out of respect to the Ward family, and to collect himself and grieve after an unimaginable turn in life while doing the one thing that had always been his steady source of happiness. Almost immediately after the accident television pundits joined sudden racing experts -- many of whom had never covered a race before, and many more who had never even met Stewart -- to offer loud and often misinformed opinions in the aftermath. A grand jury heard all the evidence and thoroughly contemplated the hard facts (witness accounts and video footage) and decided there was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing and on Sept. 24 formally cleared Stewart . The experience has obviously altered Stewart's perspective and changed his life. In unanticipated ways, too. The outpouring of support he received from fans, his corporate partners and fellow drivers in all forms of motorsports was humbling and strengthening. Stewart found out that so often, it's in the darkest and harshest times that you realize true friendship and the importance of the big picture. It was evident that weekend in Homestead, where despite the difficulties and turmoil of the season, Stewart intently focused on what he had to be thankful for, even as he still grappled with the tragic circumstances of the previous months and disappointments on-track. Here was Stewart about to have his first winless Cup season in his Hall of Fame 16-year career. "If that streak doesn't continue, it's not going to make my year any worse, by any means. It might have been something to help salvage it,'' Stewart said after a long, thoughtful pause. As it turned out, there was another thing that at least made the season more bearable. And on the last NASCAR race weekend of the year -- at a track where in 2011 Stewart put double exclamation points on one of the single most impressive NASCAR championship runs in the sport's history -- his good friend and teammate Kevin Harvick was less than 48 hours away from delivering the team its second title in four years, in similar style. "I think winning this championship with Kevin, it would be more gratifying to me from the standpoint, we've won it as an owner/driver, but to win it with a guy that's a good friend of yours, to win this year with all the adversity that I went through, I think it solidifies what Stewart -Haas Racing is all about and shows the depth in our organization,'' Stewart said. "That's what it will prove if we can win this championship, how solid our program is to have done it with two different drivers and have so many people make the Chase each year. This is what will really put us on the map." In what could be a microcosm of Stewart's year, he finished 43rd at Homestead after being collected in an early-race accident -- but he was still able to enjoy watching Harvick win the race and hoist the Sprint Cup trophy. The hugs, handshakes, high-fives and pure emotions of it all during the victory celebration had to be a great release for Stewart , who considers the friendship part of the relationship equally as important as the business success. "You know, there's a lot of things I would love to change about the last 18 months of my life, but tonight is not one of them,'' Stewart said after the race. "I'm going to enjoy this moment, and I'm going to enjoy it with this group and this young man. "We're going to go celebrate and enjoy this because this group of people here have deserved it, and this is a great family and this is a great group of people to lean on." It echoed what Stewart said two days earlier in his motor coach, the great solace friendships have given him in times of despair -- a comforting asset he takes as he tries to move forward. Stewart will spend what little downtime he has after the season with friends like SHR crew chief Tony Gibson and World of Outlaws legend Steve Kinser. He'll attend the Chili Bowl as a spectator, cheering on those he would normally compete against. Just being in that atmosphere, surrounded by friends and supporters, will have to be enough for now. "That's one thing that hasn't changed no matter what's gone on,'' Stewart said, his voice perking up to make the point. "It's the one consistency in my life. And I'm so grateful." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Team history and full crews of Kevin Harvick, Danica Patrick, Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch
Organization earns second NASCAR premier series title Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John's Chevrolet SS for Stewart -Haas Racing (SHR), won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship tonight at Homestead-Miami Speedway . It is Harvick's first Sprint Cup championship and the second for SHR since its inception in 2009. SHR won the 2011 Sprint Cup title with driver-owner Tony Stewart . The following are some anecdotes regarding the 2014 Sprint Cup Series Champions. · This is Kevin Harvick 's eighth driving title in his 33 years of racing. His other titles are: -- 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship -- 2006 NASCAR Nationwide Series Championship -- 2002 IROC Series Championship -- 2001 NASCAR Nationwide Series Championship -- 1998 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Championship -- 1993 Late Model Track Championship at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, California -- 1987 World Karting Association National Championship -- 1985 World Karting Association National Championship · This is Rodney Childers first championship as a crew chief in NASCAR. · This is the second Sprint Cup championship as a car owner for team co-owners Stewart and Gene Haas. -- 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship with the No. 4 team of Harvick -- 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship with the No. 14 team of Stewart · This is Stewart's 21st overall championship as a car owner. -- Two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championships: -- 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship with Harvick -- 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship via himself -- Five World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Championships: -- 2014 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Championship with Donny Schatz -- 2012 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Championship with Schatz -- 2009 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Championship with Schatz -- 2008 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Championship with Schatz -- 2001 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Championship with Danny Lasoski -- Fourteen USAC Championships: -- 2013 USAC Sprint Car Championship with Bryan Clauson -- 2013 USAC Silver Crown Championship with Bobby East -- 2011 USAC Sprint Car Championship with Levi Jones -- 2011 USAC Silver Crown Championship with Jones -- 2010 USAC Sprint Car Championship with Jones -- 2010 USAC Silver Crown Championship with Jones -- 2008 USAC Sprint Car Championship with Jones -- 2007 USAC Sprint Car Championship with Jones -- 2006 USAC Sprint Car Championship with Josh Wise -- 2005 USAC Silver Crown Championship with J.J. Yeley ( Stewart co-owned team with Bob East) -- 2004 USAC Silver Crown Championship with Yeley ( Stewart co-owned team with Bob East) -- 2003 USAC Sprint Car Championship with Yeley -- 2003 USAC Silver Crown Championship with Yeley ( Stewart co-owned team with Bob East) -- 2002 USAC Silver Crown Championship with Yeley ( Stewart co-owned team with Bob East) Anecdotes: · Harvick joins Bobby Labonte and Brad Keselowski as the only drivers to earn both a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship and a NASCAR Nationwide Series championship. Harvick is a two-time Nationwide Series champion (2001 and 2006). · Harvick is only the third Sprint Cup driver since 2000 to lead more than 2,000 laps in a single season. Harvick led 2,137 laps in 2014. Jimmie Johnson led 2,238 laps in 2009 and Jeff Gordon led 2,320 laps in 2001. Both Johnson and Gordon went on to win the championship in those years. · Harvick led a lap in 27 of the 36 Sprint Cup races in 2014. His longest streak of consecutive races with at least one lap led was nine, beginning Aug. 23 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and continuing through the Oct. 19 race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. His longest stretch of races without a single lap led was three, starting June 28 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta lasting through July 13 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. · The most laps Harvick led in a single Sprint Cup season prior to 2014 was 895 laps in 2006. · In nine seasons prior to 2014, teams led by crew chief Rodney Childers led a total of 879 laps. Among the seven drivers Childers worked with during this span, Mark Martin was the leader with 295 laps led during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. · Of the 24 track qualifying records set during the 2014 Sprint Cup season, Harvick accounted for six of them. No other driver had more than four. -- April 5 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (Round 1: 27.234 seconds at 198.282 mph) -- May 9 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas Speedway (Round 2: 27.741 seconds at 194.658 mph) -- June 13 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn (Round 3: 35.198 seconds at 204.557 mph) --This was the fastest pole-winning speed since April 1987 when Bill Elliott set the all-time Sprint Cup qualifying record of 212.809 mph at Talladega Superspeedway . -- July 26 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Round 1: 47.753 seconds at 188.470 mph) -- Aug. 22 at Bristol Motor Speedway (Round 2: 14.607 seconds at 131.362 mph) -- Oct. 3 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City (Round 2: 27.304 seconds at 197.773 mph) · Harvick won a career-high eight poles in 2014. In his previous 13 years as a Sprint Cup driver, Harvick won a total of six poles. -- April 11 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway -- May 9 at Kansas Speedway -- June 13 at Michigan International Speedway -- July 26 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- Aug. 22 at Bristol Motor Speedway -- Aug. 29 at Atlanta Motor Speedway -- Sept. 26 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway -- Oct. 3 at Kansas Speedway · Harvick finished among the top-five in the Sprint Cup championship standings six times prior to 2014. His previous career-high point finish was third, which he did three times (2010, 2011 and 2013). · Harvick finished 25 of 36 Sprint Cup Series races with a driver rating better than 100.0, including four races with a driver rating better than 140.0. Harvick scored his only perfect driver rating (150.0) Nov. 9 at Phoenix International Raceway where he led three times for a race-high 264 laps en route to the victory. · Harvick ended the 2014 season as the leader in the following loop data categories: -- Driver Rating: 110.5 -- Fastest Early in Run: 4.710 -- Fastest Laps Run: 1,233 -- Fastest Green Flag Speed: 4.387 -- Most Laps Led: 2,137 -- Mileage Leader: 2,716.86 · Harvick's championship is the 30th driver title for Team Chevy in the Sprint Cup Series. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Young driver finished in fourth place in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series standings CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Dillon Bassett has proven to be a quick study. Yes, racing runs deep in his bloodlines, but the 17-year-old from Winston-Salem, North Carolina has seen the start of his NASCAR racing career get off to a soaring start. Bassett was among the drivers honored at Friday night's NASCAR Whelen All-American Series banquet in the Crown Ballroom of the Charlotte Convention Center. The evening recognized champions and rookies of the year on the state and provincial level as well as track champions, the top three finishers in the national title and a handful of other awards. RELATED: Anders honored as 2014 national champion " Awards photo gallery In his first full season, Bassett rolled off an impressive 13 wins, 31 top-five finishes and 35 top-10 finishes in 37 starts while finishing fourth in the final NASCAR Whelen All-American Series standings. He also finished second in the state championship standings to Lee Pulliam, the two-time national champion. Bassett received the inaugural UNOH Youth Achievement Award, which recognizes the top driver 17-and-under in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. "This is the first year I ran a full NASCAR series schedule and I think to win 13 races in your first year is pretty exciting," Bassett said. "I know after I clicked off like three in a row or something I was getting pumped up. And to finish the season with 13, I feel like it's a pretty good accomplishment for us." Among the tracks Bassett competed at this season included: Motor Mile Speedway, Anderson Motor Speedway, Southern National Motorsports Park, Hickory Motor Speedway, Caraway Speedway, East Carolina Motor Speedway and Langley Speedway. Hickory, where Bassett scored several victories this year, was one track that really stood out. "It's a local short track. A lot of good racing. We've been there quite a few times this year and it doesn't matter where you were at on the race track, it seemed like there was always racing going on. It's pretty fun. It had to be fun for the fans just to watch. You know, sometimes you go to tracks and you only have three or four cars racing; when we went to Hickory it just seemed like everybody was racing." At a young age, Bassett found great success in Bandolero Bandits. He won a national championship in 2006 and three national championships in 2007. When he moved to Legends cars in 2009, he won more national championships. Upon moving to limited late models in 2010, he won a track championship the following year. Dillon's father, Ronnie Bassett Sr., was a past NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track champion with a 1997 title in Stadium Stocks at Bowman Gray Stadium. His older brother, Ronnie Bassett Jr., just completed his first full season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and finished 11th in the final standings. Ronnie Jr. also was a Bandolero Bandit national champion in 2006 and won track and state championships. Of his family's history in the sport, Dillon says, "It gives you something to shoot for. "Right now I'm at an equal level of where my dad was running late models." In 2015, the plan is for Dillon to move up the NASCAR ladder. "Next year, me and my brother and going to run the (NASCAR) K&N Pro Series East. We're trying to step up as much as we can," Dillon said. He added that the goal was to run the full schedule, plus a handful of NASCAR K&N Pro Series West races as well, if the schedule permits. In addition to his strong 2014 season, Dillon turned some heads with his participation in the 2013 Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown. He scored the pole for the event before finishing seventh in a race that included NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regulars Kyle Busch , David Ragan , Kyle Larson , Matt Kenseth , Ricky Stenhouse Jr . and Tony Stewart . "It was fun to get out there and race with those guys. You are going to learn a ton considering they run in NASCAR's top series. It was a blast. Look forward to hopefully doing it some more. I know they changed tracks to South Boston this year and we didn't run it. The timing didn't work out. But hopefully, we can run it some more in the future." If Dillon Bassett continues to be a quick study as he moves up the ladder, he may find himself racing against some of those names a little more frequently. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Timeline, full coverage of the Tony Stewart incident Sept. 24: No charges against Stewart A grand jury deliberated for less than an hour and determined there would be no indictment for Tony Stewart . " Read the full story Sept. 24: Stewart releases statement In a statement released after the grand jury findings, Tony Stewart reiterated his thoughts are with the family of Kevin Ward Jr. " Read the full story Sept. 24: NASCAR statement on Stewart decision Brett Jewkes, NASCAR Chief Communications Officer, on Ontario (N.Y.) County District Attorney announcement. " Read the full story Sept. 16: Ontario County D.A. to send evidence to grand jury The Ontario County (New York) District Attorney will send evidence from the Kevin Ward Jr.- Tony Stewart investigation to a grand jury. The evidence will be presented in "the near future." " Read the full story Sept. 11: Investigation into Ward's death complete The Ontario County (New York) Office of the Sheriff announced that the investigation into the death of Kevin Ward Jr. has been complete. " Read the full story Aug. 31: Stewart exits after blown tire Tony Stewart's return to the track came to an early end after a blown tire finished his night at Atlanta Motor Speedway . " Read the full story Aug. 30: Sponsor issues statement of support for Stewart Johnny Morris, the founder of Bass Pro Shops, released a statement of support for Tony Stewart on Saturday. Bass Pro Shops serves as a primary sponsor for Stewart's No. 14 Chevrolet. " Read the full story Aug. 29: Stewart addresses media at Atlanta Tony Stewart addressed the media for the first time since the tragic sprint car incident at Canandaigua Motorsports Park . " Read the full story Aug. 29: Helton: Stewart eligible for Chase NASCAR President Mike Helton said that if Tony Stewart wins one of the final two regular-season races, then he would be eligible to make the 16-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoff. " Read the full story Aug. 29: Harvick, Danica react to Stewart's return Kevin Harvick and Danica Patrick , two of Tony Stewart 's teammates at Stewart -Haas Racing, are glad to have him back at the track and will be there for their friend and team co-owner. " Read the full story Aug. 29: Investigation still ongoing Ontario County (New York) Sheriff Philip Povero released a statement Friday, saying the investigation into the death of Kevin Ward Jr. is at least two weeks away from concluding. " Read the full statement Aug. 28: Stewart will return at Atlanta After missing three races following the tragic sprint car accident involving Kevin Ward Jr., Tony Stewart announced he will return to the track this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway . " Read the full story Aug. 25: Zipadelli, SHR go on without Stewart Stewart -Haas Racing Vice President of Competition Greg Zipadelli doesn't know when Tony Stewart will return, but he is grateful for the impact Jeff Burton has had on the No. 14 team. " Read the full story Aug. 20: Stewart out for Bristol Tony Stewart will not race at Bristol and will once again be replaced by Jeff Burton in the No. 14 Chevrolet. " Read the full story Aug. 15: Team: Decision on when to return is Stewart's Stewart -Haas Racing Executive Vice President Brett Frood told reporters that when Stewart returns to the No. 14 is up to the driver, who is currently grieving along with support of family and friends. " Read the full story Aug. 19: Joe Gibbs speaks on Stewart Joe Gibbs won two titles and 33 races with Tony Stewart from 1999-2008. The team owner was asked about 'Smoke' on Tuesday, and Gibbs explained why the driver is so important to the sport. " Read the full story Aug. 17: Harvick: '( Stewart ) will stay strong and fight' Following his second-place effort at Michigan, Kevin Harvick talked about the difficult week that Stewart -Haas Racing has had. " Read the full story Aug. 15: Burton to fill in for Stewart at Michigan Sprint Cup veteran Jeff Burton has been called up by SHR to drive the No. 14 at Michigan as Stewart continues to grieve the loss of Ward. " Read the full story Aug. 14: Stewart out for Michigan Tony Stewart will not race at Michigan in the Pure Michigan 400 . Instead, 21-time Cup winner Jeff Burton will fill-in in the No. 14 Chevrolet. " Read the full story Aug. 12: Racing or not, Stewart will not forget Ward Kenny Bruce column: Fatal incident at dirt track will stay with three-time champion. " Read the full story Aug. 11: Stewart cancels plans to race on dirt Tony Stewart will not race at Plymouth Speedway on Saturday night, August 16, the Indiana dirt track announced in a statement. " Read the full story Aug. 10: SHR: Stewart will not race at Watkins Glen Tony Stewart will not race in the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen after an incident Saturday night at Canandaigua Motorsports Park. " Read the full story Aug. 10: NASCAR statement on Kevin Ward Jr., Tony Stewart Sanctioning body offers thoughts and prayers to family of deceased. " Read the full story Aug. 10: Sheriff news conference details Stewart incident Ontario County (New York) Sheriff Philip C. Povero comments on events at Canandaigua Motorsports Park. " Read the full story Aug. 10: Smith to drive for Stewart at Watkins Glen Regan Smith will pilot the No. 14 as Tony Stewart will not race Sunday at Watkins Glen after an incident Saturday night at Canandaigua Motorsports Park. " Watch the video Aug. 10: Statement from Stewart on fatal accident Three-time Sprint Cup champ: 'There aren't words to describe the sadness I feel...' " Read the statement Aug. 10: Further Stewart investigation details revealed Sheriff Philip Povero offered more info regarding the investigation. " Read the full story Aug. 10: Smith shares struggles of filling in for Stewart Stewart's fill-in Regan Smith speaks out on his day at the Glen and the challenges of racing the No. 14. " Read the full story Aug. 10: Allmendinger offers tribute to fallen racer Drivers react to Stewart incident, Allmendinger sends thoughts and prayers to family, Stewart . " Read the full story Aug. 9: Stewart involved in fatal sprint car accident The three-time Sprint Cup Series champion was racing at Canandaigua Motorsports Park when an incident he was involved in left another driver with fatal injuries. " Read the full story
Read complete text of Stewart's first Q-and-A with reporters since incident RELATED: Stewart answers questions for first time " Stewart timeline THE MODERATOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Mike Arning, Director of Communications for Stewart -Haas Racing and want to say thank you for your time this morning. We'll introduce Tony Stewart and start off with any questions you may have. Q. Tony , since the accident, when you think of Kevin Ward, Jr., what comes to mind? TONY STEWART : Honestly, before the accident I didn't know Kevin. I don't even know how many times I had raced with him. I race with that group a couple times a year. They've always been a great group to race with, but I didn't know him. Obviously, after the accident I've read a lot about him, and from what I've read, I think he had a really promising career as a sprint car driver. It sounded like he was doing a good job and learning a lot at a young age, so I think he had a lot to look forward to. Q. Do you want to and need to talk to the Ward family to have any sort of closure? If so, can you talk to him or will it be years before all the legal stuff is done before you can talk to them? TONY STEWART : You know, I think at this point it's -- I want to be available to them if they want to talk about it. At this point, I don't need to talk to them for closure. I know what happened, and I know it was an accident, but I'm offering to talk to them to help them, if it helps them with closure. So I said it when we were in Atlanta, and I still believe that I want to be available to them if and when they ever want to talk. Q. On the topic of closure, at some point the focus will turn back to your career as a race car driver. Have you thought about when or how that can happen? TONY STEWART : Well, I mean, we've been racing since Atlanta, obviously, but it's not been business as usual by any means, and this is going to be a healing process for me. It makes you think about a lot of things other than driving race cars, but the one thing that's probably helped me more than anything is being back at the race track and being around my racing family and remembering that I have a passion for what I do. So that's probably helped me more than anything when it's come to trying to make that next step to move forward. Q. If you could do anything differently over the past couple months, what would it be? TONY STEWART : I'd have stayed at Watkins Glen that night. 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. I had just spent the week at Knoxville, and it gives you the edge and desire to want to go race. 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. Q. How have you been spending the time since the accident happened, and will your routine change now that you've been exonerated? TONY STEWART : Since we went back to Atlanta, basically, I go from the motorhome to the car, and the car to the trailer, and the trailer back to the car, and that's literally all I've done since I came back. Even after Wednesday here in Charlotte , I haven't left my house. It's just an awkward feeling. I think now I'll start doing some more things. I mean, I've got a lot of friends who have been supportive through this entire thing, and there are a lot of people that have shown how much they cared and it would be nice to go and visit and talk to those people again. Q. Have you reconsidered or considered stopping driving sprint cars as a result of this and your injury the year before? TONY STEWART : At this point I don't really have -- I'm not going to say I'm never going to get in one. But 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, 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. So at this point I won't be in one for a while. Q. The life of a driver and an owner is extremely busy. Press conferences, commercials, appearances, fan things, you haven't done -- have you done much of that? When will you think you'd get back to that life? TONY STEWART : I haven't done any since the accident. I think after talking with you guys today we'll start getting back into doing meet and greets and appearances again. I think it's important for me to do that and to take -- I think that's another step of making forward progress is getting back to trying to resume what was the best of a normal life before this. I think it's important for me to do that and get back to doing it as soon as possible. Q. What has been the biggest change within you and the biggest impact upon you as a result of this past month and a half? TONY STEWART : I honestly think that when you're -- and I'm not going to speak for professional athletes in different forms of sports, but as a race car driver, driving a race car is all that consumed my life. It's all I thought about, it's all I cared about, and everything else was second on down the list of priorities for me. I think this has given me the opportunity to sit here and think about other aspects of my life and what they're going to mean to me in the future. Not that I don't love what I do, because I do love it, but it's not -- just like you guys, it's not what we do all the time. There are more things to our life than what we have as a profession. So it's made me think about some of those other aspects of my life that kind of have been put on hold for years. Q. How would you characterize the weeks at home, Tony , following the accident? You basically were in seclusion. What was that like for you to go through that and what did you do? TONY STEWART : I didn't really do much of anything to be perfectly honest. I think the first three days that I was home I really didn't do anything. I didn't get out of bed. I didn't care if I took a shower. I left my room to go get food, and that you almost had to make yourself eat. It's the first three or four days I didn't want to talk to anybody. Didn't want to see anybody, I just wanted to be by myself. You finally get up and you finally start moving around a little bit and every day got a little bit easier, but it was a big, drastic change from what I was used to, for sure, not having the desire to do anything. All you thought about is what happened and asking yourself why. Why did this happen? So you just sat there for entire days on end asking questions and trying to come to terms with what happened and why it happened. Q. I was at Loudon a couple weeks ago and Jimmie Johnson talked about how people are starting to take sides, and I'm wondering during this process if things coming out on Twitter or people making comments in the media, did you keep yourself insulated from that or did you follow any of that? How did that impact the time that you were at the track? TONY STEWART : I tried to do my best to insulate myself from that. But I finally started reading what was out there and what people were saying, and you didn't control that. Last Wednesday the facts came out and people still through the weekend, some people that had the same opinion before the facts came out still have the same opinion, no matter what side they think about. To me it's worthless to pick sides. A young man lost his life, and I don't care what side you're on, it doesn't change that. His family's in mourning. I'm in mourning. My family is in mourning. Picking sides isn't solving or fixing anything. It's a waste of time to pick sides. Instead of honoring a young man that had a promising racing career, people are picking sides and throwing -- it's like watching people throw darts at each other. It's disappointing at this point, honestly, because instead of supporting each other and the racing community is such a strong family, that it's dividing people that on a daily basis would help each other. There is no point in it. It doesn't solve anything. It doesn't fix anything. At the end of the day, it's not going to make anybody feel any better about it. It's just people that -- everybody's entitled to their opinion, and we know that. But everybody, and I've seen this for the last seven weeks now, everybody has made their decision and picked their side off of 100 percent of the information that they got, which is about 10 percent of all the information that's truly out there. And we all do it. Our society does it. We do it every day. Whatever we see on the news we make our decision as people about what we see. But it's not -- I don't think any of us any day whatever topic we're trying to come to a conclusion about, ever get all the facts. So you understand why people think the way they do, but I think more than not, I don't think people realize that there is more information out there than what we all get on a daily basis about whatever it is. Q. (No Microphone)? TONY STEWART : I guess it was more disappointing to me than anything. Even from people that were supportive of us. I mean, listened and reading comments about the sheriff's department and the district attorney, they did a good job of taking the time that they needed to do to get all the facts and to come to a very thought out conclusion of this. You want to sit there and tell people, hey, let them do their job. But it just shows how passionate people are. I mean, if they are on our side or on Kevin's family's side, they were passionate about that. That's something I don't want to see go away. I don't want to see people lose their passion, but I think people need to understand that there are a lot more facts that they didn't understand and haven't seen. Q. Tony , obviously the season is moving on. Yesterday Kevin Harvick , great run, Kurt Busch , not as great. How much have you let yourself be engaged in that side of the process right now as far as being the Stewart of Stewart -Haas Racing? TONY STEWART : I've let my team down from that standpoint. I haven't been able to -- 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. It's just, like I mentioned earlier, 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. You try to be a cheerleader, you try to keep them pumped up about what they're do being, but other than that, I haven't been able to contribute too much. Q. Just wondering, you talk about being in seclusion and all that that's meant. What does today represent for you having us all here? You called us all here together. What does today represent for you in terms of going forward? TONY STEWART : We knew everybody had questions and we knew that everybody was going to want answered to what's going on. But I think more than anything we wanted to be able to tell everything from the beginning. But it's, like I learned Wednesday, everybody's got their opinions about what happened. Obviously, the facts didn't matter to a lot of those people. They still had their opinions one way or the other. We haven't let anybody know what's been going on the last six weeks. We just kind of went through the motions as far as we're concerned, and we knew a lot of you would have questions about what's been going on the last six or seven weeks and how have we handled it. Q. What was it like to learn from the district attorney that in the toxicology report, Kevin Ward was under the influence? TONY STEWART : Honestly, for me, it didn't change anything. To me a young driver lost his life. Didn't matter why or what was going on. The end result was the same. No matter what was said, it was still a tragic accident. I just know in my heart that it was a hundred percent an accident; that detail didn't mean anything to me personally. Q. You mentioned earlier the awkward feeling that's come over you the past several weeks. Can you explain that a little more? Also, talk about will that ever go away given that Kevin Ward has passed away and that will not change? TONY STEWART : It's just been awkward because I know what a typical day was like for me and the things that were on my agenda for each day and what I thought about you kind of get in that pattern. This was something that obviously changed that pattern drastically. Everything you thought about, everything you worked on, you stop thinking about. You stopped working on, and this is all you thought about. Ask me the second part again. Q. Do you think that will eventually go away? TONY STEWART : I think it will. The reason I say that is I've had other people that I've known for years that have come to me and told me personal stories of tragedies that have happened in their life that a lot of us don't know about. Their experiences and their advice really has hit home for me. I do believe as time goes on it will be different every day. It may. I don't know if it will ever get back to normal, but it will get better. Q. Since getting back in a car, rate your performance as a driver? TONY STEWART : I could rate a before and after almost the same. My year hasn't been a stellar year by any means. When we came back, we had a decent day started in Atlanta, and had an incident that derailed it. But I think yesterday was probably the best overall race from start to finish that we've run. Probably one of the best ones this year that we've actually run. I struggled on restarts. I couldn't get going very good the first three or four laps, but it seemed like after 10 laps or 15 laps we were settling into a pace that was a top-5 race car. So we didn't have any major dramas on either side during the whole race. We actually put a whole race together. I know the 14th- or 15th-place finish isn't anything to brag about, but considering where our season has been, we finally put together a whole day that was consistent, and that meant a lot to us. Q. Tony , it's kind of a follow-up, Doug asked you about your NASCAR involvement with Stewart -Haas Racing. Your short track industry, your empire with Eldora and your USAC teams, and the World of Outlaw teams, what's that been like for you over the last seven weeks? TONY STEWART : I've watched and paid attention to what was going on, but I haven't been engaged in it. I've watched our races that we had online at Eldora. I've watched the sprint car races online and listened to them online, but haven't been engaged with the teams, haven't been engaged with the drivers. Just kind of been an non-deal. Q. I don't know quite how to phrase this, but racing inherently is a dangerous sport. You've seen guys get killed in accidents over the years. If this would have been a situation where you guys were racing and he crashed, and he perished in the crash, would it be something you would feel different about? Or does the nature of him coming out on the track, did that change at all for you? Does that make sense? TONY STEWART : Yeah, it does. For me, I don't think it would change anything. I've worked really hard, especially when I got hurt last year, while I was healing, I spent all that time trying to defend sprint car racing and help -- try to help other drivers through the off-season. I do it because I'm passionate about it and I love it. We all know what can happen every time we get in a race car, whether it's an IndyCar, stock car, sprint car. Anybody that races anything knows what that is and what that danger is and what can happen. I've had close friends die in race cars. I've had teammates die in race cars, and there is nothing easy about it. Like I said, the racing community is a very close-knit family. Anytime you lose somebody in that family, there are drivers and team owners and crew members from other sports that may not have ever met that driver but feel for that family and that driver in their tragedy. So no matter what the circumstances, the end result is something that nobody ever wants to see. Like I said, I've spent a lot of time trying to defend it and try to help promote the sport, and none of us want that to happen to anybody under any circumstances. Q. This is a secondary thing, but it will be important if it hasn't been already, how are you dealing with sponsors? How are you talking to sponsors about moving forward and what kind of concerns do you have about them being loyal to the team after this? TONY STEWART : It's a legitimate question, for sure. Our organization has stayed in close contact with the sponsors through this whole ordeal, and I've been able to talk to a couple of them as well. Johnny Morris was one of the people that came to my house to see me while I was in Indiana. We spoke to people from Mobil 1, and they came to see us the last couple weeks at the race track. The support from them has been amazing. 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. 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. Q. First of all, welcome back. Glad to see you. Following up a little on what Steven said. You own sprint car teams and own tracks and specifically Eldora. It was almost a therapy for you to get to go up and ride around on a four-wheeler and get the shoes dirty and the hands dirty. Has this incident taken away from the cleansing properties of that therapy? Do you think you'll ever be able to ride Eldora in the four-wheeler and feel the same again? TONY STEWART : I'm sure I will. It's just not right now. That's an important aspect of my life and something that's very important to me. Right now at this moment today there are other things that are important to me right now, and they still are. But I'm not ready to go do that yet. Going around in a Cup car right now is important to me, and the great thing Eldora and the dirt track teams and our drivers that do great things there, and that's given me -- afforded me the time to think about what I need to do right now. Q. You talked briefly about your race yesterday. It's been the best race you've had in your five back. Is there any correlation personally in how you performed yesterday to being able to move forward in the decision Wednesday? TONY STEWART : I really don't know if it does or not, to be honest. Honestly, at the race track on Friday and Saturday we struggled. Our qualifying effort was the best that I qualified at Dover in a long time, but we really struggled in practice leading up to that, and Saturday all day we struggled. I thought Chad and the engineers did a good job Saturday night of taking all the information they learned on both days, and I could tell right off the bat on Sunday that the car was quite a bit different than the rest of the weekend. I don't think it had anything to do with that, honestly. I think getting back in the car every time I've gotten in there, it's given me a chance to focus again, and that's something that I've needed as a diversion. But I think from the time that I went back to Atlanta, the first session there the car felt really good, and we had a good weekend in Atlanta until it got derailed. But I think at this point in my career as a driver, when you make that decision to put the helmet on you have to know in your heart that you're ready to go, you're ready to do it, and I felt comfortable in the car from Day 1. Q. You're a championship level driver on the track, and sort of a larger-than-life figure off of it, which is responsible for all of this. Can you get back to that person that you were, that gregarious, likeable sort of guy, or is it going to be a while that you're that personality that fans have been drawn to all these years? TONY STEWART : I think the support we've had from our fans, I don't know if they even care if we get back to that. They're just happy that we're back right now, and that's been very comforting for us and for me. I've really appreciated their support and how they've helped welcome me back to the track. It's hard to say to be honest. I appreciate the fact that you said I was a nice guy. This is a process that's day-to-day. You take it one day at a time. Before the accident happened, a day would fly by, and now a day seems like two or three days. The clock seems like the batteries are running low on the clock. I honestly think every day things will get better, and things will get easier, and I think it will for Kevin's family as well. Time heals. Like I said, I don't know that it will ever be normal again, but we'll find a place to settle into and we'll do the best we can like we have to this point. Whether I ever get back to that or not, hopefully through this I will somehow be a better person. That's all I can hope for. Q. Until last Wednesday, there was the very real possi
Earnhardt Jr., Johnson and Harvick share thoughts on grand jury decision RELATED: Full timeline of Stewart coverage " Stewart on accident " Future in sprint cars DOVER, Del. -- Two days after grand jury proceedings came to a close in Ontario County, New York, Tony Stewart was back at work Friday, strapped into his No. 14 Chevrolet and making preliminary laps at Dover International Speedway . His return to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition came four weeks ago at Atlanta, but Friday marked his first day at the track without the potential for criminal charges in the accident that killed sprint car driver Kevin Ward Jr. on Aug. 9. While that part of the matter is resolved, Stewart made clear in an interview with The Associated Press that he remains haunted by the events of that dark Saturday night at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park. As Stewart tries to find a new, but forever altered sense of normalcy at the track, the NASCAR community -- which counts the three-time champion known as "Smoke" among its most popular members -- has reached out with thoughts for both Stewart and the Ward family, both before and after Wednesday's announcement of the grand jury's decision. "I don't know if relief is what I had," said Dale Earnhardt Jr ., NASCAR's reigning most popular driver. "I didn't really pay super close attention to what was going on. More or less just letting the process play out, and I feel sadness in my heart for the Ward family. But at the same time you get something in the pit of your stomach that is sort of this frightfulness or this fear for Tony and what he is having to deal with. Just having known him for all these years you can imagine that he is going through something super emotional and overwhelming by a huge measure. "There is sort of a sickness or something in the pit of your stomach for what Tony is going through, but at the same time you never really forget that somebody was killed. There is a family with a hole in their heart and they have got to figure out a way to live out the rest of their lives with this always on their mind. It will have a huge effect on both sides for so many years. It's just super-duper unfortunate." The revelation that Ward -- a 20-year-old driver who won four races on the regional Empire Super Sprints circuit -- was under the influence of marijuana to a degree that would impair judgment, according to authorities, was termed "shocking" by six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson . The report also raised the question about restrictions and policing illegal substances at the nation's short tracks, many of which operate without the benefit of a regional or national sanctioning body to oversee such a process. "I guess I don't understand enough about it all and what the repercussions for short tracks would be. Still, first and foremost, I just don't want to ignore the fact that it was a massive tragedy that took place," Johnson said. "The toxicology report is shocking to see. From a friend perspective and worrying about Tony and understanding what he's gone through and how tough this has been on him, I'm sure there is some type of relief that it's kind of done, in that respect. But at the same time, coming back to the Ward family, even in the remarks I read from Tony , I'm sure he feels OK about not having this go any further and there being legal actions. A civil suit is still out there and that can happen for any reason, to anybody in this room. But, the other side of it, still first and foremost on Tony's mind is that it was an accident and his heart is still out for the Ward family. "And I just echo those same things. It's such a tragedy to have these details come out and people potentially forming sides, there's just no good in that. It's just been a terrible accident and we need to pay respect to Kevin Ward Jr., and I don't know how you go on, but just move forward." While Stewart qualified 15th for Sunday's AAA 400 (2 p.m. ET, ESPN), teammate Kevin Harvick carried the torch for the Stewart -Haas Racing team Friday with his seventh Coors Light Pole Award of the year. Harvick said that he couldn't speak for the entire organization's state of mind, but said that he was personally relieved after Wednesday's announcement. "You worry about your friend and the circumstances that are surrounding him and how things could be dictated for the rest of his life," Harvick said. "Just being around and knowing how much it's weighed on him and all the things that he has going on, for me personally, I'm happy for my friend. As far as the team, we've all got jobs to do and have had to press through them, but I'm overjoyed in obviously a devastating situation, but I'm just happy that it's to a point where everybody knows what's happening in the future and start the process of trying to deal with it and move on into some sort of normalcy." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
No indictment for NASCAR driver in sprint car tragedy RELATED: Full coverage of Stewart incident Deciding that there was insufficient evidence to warrant criminal charges, an Ontario County (New York) grand jury will not bring any charges against NASCAR champion Tony Stewart for his involvement in a sprint car accident during an Aug. 9 race at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park that fatally injured fellow driver Kevin Ward Jr. Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo held a news conference Wednesday afternoon to deliver the findings, ultimately saying that "there was no evidence to charge Tony Stewart with a crime." He said the grand jury examined the evidence and heard from two dozen witnesses for "the better part of two days" before reaching its conclusion. The two charges it considered were second degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. In the state of New York it takes 12 of 23 votes from the grand jury to return charges. They delivered their verdict in less than an hour. Tantillo said of the two dozen-plus witnesses that testified, they included two accident reconstructionists, eye-witnesses, track workers and medical responders along with photographs and two video recordings. He said Stewart was able to testify, but by law he could not reveal who else did or did not. Of the videos, Tantillo revealed "They were relatively similar in what they showed. They were enhanced and run through programs that allowed the frames to be isolated. … They were pretty important parts of the result here." The one video previously made public shows Ward's and Stewart's cars collide while racing on the tight 0.375-mile dirt track in Upstate New York, then Ward quickly getting out of his hobbled car and coming down toward the racing line to confront Stewart during the caution laps that ensued. Stewart's car struck Ward, who was pronounced dead upon his arrival at a local hospital. Tantillo said there was a toxicologist report conducted on Ward and it found that Ward was under the influence of marijuana "enough to impair judgment." Stewart issued a statement following Tantillo's news conference. "This has been the toughest and most emotional experience of my life and it will stay with me forever. I'm very grateful for all the support I've received and continue to receive,'' Stewart said. "I respect everything the District Attorney and Sheriff's Office did to thoroughly investigate this tragic accident. While the process was long and emotionally difficult, it allowed for all the facts of the accident to be identified and known. "While much of the attention has been on me, it's important to remember a young man lost his life. Kevin Ward Jr.'s family and friends will always be in my thoughts and prayers.'' Stewart , 43, has cooperated with the investigation from the beginning and sat out three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races out of respect for the Ward family. In his only public remarks about the accident, a somber Stewart said on Aug. 29 that "this has been one of the toughest tragedies I've ever had to deal with both professionally and personally. This is something that will definitely affect my life forever. This is a sadness and a pain that I hope no one ever has to experience in their life." He returned to competition at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Aug. 31 and has finished a best of 15th-place in the four races he's competed in since the accident. He is on the entry list for this weekend's race at Dover International Speedway . "There are no winners in tragedy," NASCAR Chief Communications Officer Brett Jewkes said in a statement released by the sanctioning body. "Our thoughts and prayers remain with the Kevin Ward Jr. family and Tony Stewart as they all cope with this tragic incident at Canandaigua Motorsports Park. This has been a difficult time for everyone involved and we have respected the local authorities responsible for reviewing this case." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule