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Dale Jarrett talks with Tony Stewart: ‘He made the right decision’ not to race Sunday

Aug 10, 2014, 1:28 PM EDT

(Photo: Gregg Forwerck/Getty Images) Getty Images

As can be imagined in a situation such as Saturday night’s tragedy at Canandaigua Speedway in upstate New York that claimed the life of young race car driver Kevin Ward Jr., Tony Stewart did not choose to speak with the general media Sunday morning at Watkins Glen International.

But Stewart did speak privately to at least one high-profile member of the media – who also happens to be a former driver/champion and a NASCAR Hall of Famer – but more as friend-to-friend than athlete-to-reporter.

That was ESPN analyst Dale Jarrett.

To his credit, Jarrett put his brief meeting with Stewart in context during the network’s pre-race show about an hour before the green flag dropped for the Cheez-It 355 at WGI.

Said Jarrett:

“I did speak to Tony as a friend. My conversation with Tony was just to let him know that he had many friends like myself and an entire community that was thinking about Tony, he’s in our thoughts and prayers, and we all love and support him.

“We all go through challenges in our life. We don’t know sometime why these challenges are put in front of us and face us, but that he had all of us to lean on in a most difficult time.

“I’m fortunate to call Tony Stewart a good friend, and I was honored that he would take a little bit of time to be there, and I could be there with him this morning, just as a friend, wanting to let him know I am here if there is anything I can do.

“It was basically Tony’s decision that he did that (decided not to race in Sunday’s event at The Glen). After you think about things, that you realize that this is the right thing.

“That was the last thing I told Tony – other than that I loved him like a brother – that he made the right decision. He didn’t need my reassurance, he knew that he made the right decision, and it was the only decision. And Tony Stewart is that type of person and showed that once again.”

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  1. jxegh - Aug 10, 2014 at 1:38 PM

    Wow, Dale Jarrett doesn’t mention Kevin Ward Jr.’s name once. How thoughtful…….smh

  2. jinx21fan - Aug 10, 2014 at 1:55 PM

    What a load of crap. His first decision was “business as usual”. I have a feeling (after huge backlash) a few sponsors said whoa. Bass Pro Shops received more than one tweet with #businessasusual

  3. techmeister1 - Aug 10, 2014 at 2:11 PM

    It goes without saying that every racer and fan has complete sympathy for Kevin Ward and many drivers have posted their sympathies. As a racer a death of another racer hits us all very hard. It’s as if we are one big family and the emotions run deep even though I and many other folks never knew Kevin.

    Regardless of what people think or say, Stewarts life is changed forever today and not for the better. I seriously doubt under the worst of possible conditions he or another race car driver would intentionally hit another driver walking on track. Yes there are high emotions but these drivers are not insane.

    RIP Kevin. We’ve lost another family member today.

  4. gatorjr - Aug 10, 2014 at 2:40 PM

    R.I.P Kevin Ward.

  5. xjokerz - Aug 10, 2014 at 3:21 PM

    Get off your knees Dale, and someone please give him a rag to clean off his face.

    my God.

    • worknman24hours - Aug 10, 2014 at 11:23 PM

      Out of line.

      Jarrett was called on to dump on Stewart because his job is a tv announcer now and not a long time NASCAR driver and he refused to do that.

      He treated Stewart as a family friend because he IS.

      I know you can’t understand that concept because your post shows that but sometimes people remember who their friends are,support them when things look bad and don’t stab them in the back at the earliest opportunity.

      And Dale was a long time driver who knows things can happen in the heat of battle you had no way of seeing the end of and they don’t always go the way you wanted them to go.

      That’s called remembering where you came from.

  6. corvusrex96 - Aug 10, 2014 at 3:21 PM

    Lot of blame to Mr Ward but still there appears to be negligence on Tony Stewarts part

  7. kosar19xx - Aug 11, 2014 at 2:23 AM

    99% of the idiots blaming Stewart havent raced anything but a tricycle. Get in a race car. See how big your field of vision is. With the helmet, roll bars, head rest, HANS device if he was wearing one, you have a VERY limited view of anything except what is right in front of you. Thats on a clear day. Throw in dimly light dirt track, and a guy you never expected to be there wearing all black, and its pretty safe to say Stewart never saw him until it was too late. Or not at all. Being an “agressive driver” is worlds away from intentionaly running over a 20 year old kid.

    • tmarlin1221 - Aug 11, 2014 at 11:18 AM

      You’re correct, and it’s because racing is not a sport. It takes zero athletic ability and any fat lazy slob can do it. I’ve raced on my Wii many times. Instead remove all drivers from the non-sport and have the cars be remote controlled racing cars. This is what happens when a car is used for something it wasn’t created for, which is going round and round in circles for a bunch of toothless beer chugging dimwits to watch.

      • stac266 - Aug 11, 2014 at 5:02 PM

        You’re an idiot.

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