Race car driver Tony Stewart is reportedly grieving for the death of fellow racer Kevin Ward Jr., the young man he hit with his sprint car as Ward walked onto the track after a wreck. The accident happened on August 9 at a sprint-car race event in Canandaigua Motorsports Park in upstate New York.
Since the accident, Stewart has missed three NASCAR races, with Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) giving the statement that his grief over Ward’s death is proving too much for him to race. Although the Ontario County (New York) Sheriff’s Department, which is investigating the case, stated earlier that no facts have surfaced that could give probable cause for criminal charges, the investigation has yet to conclude whether Stewart was at fault or it was an accident.
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Meanwhile, Greg Zipadelli, vice president of competition at SHR, is overseeing the team for Stewart’s No. 14 entry at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, along with SHR’s No. 4 of Kevin Harvick, the No. 10 of Danica Patrick and the No. 41 of Kurt Busch. Zipadelli is holding the team together and not sure when Stewart will be back behind the wheel.
“We do the best we can with what we've got right now. We'll keep praying, keep our fingers crossed that we get the boss back sooner rather than later,” Zipadelli said.
Driver Jeff Burton filled in for Stewart in the first two races after the accident, and Regan Smith drove during the race at Watkins Glen over the last weekend. According to Zipadelli, Burton has been a big help to the team as they’ve been dealing with the consequences of Stewart’s accident in the last few weeks.
“This team needed that, somebody that would be there for them and work through these tough times,” said Zipadelli of Burton.