Skip to content

Tony Stewart: ‘This is a sadness and pain that I hope no one has to experience in their life’

Aug 29, 2014, 1:37 PM EDT

HAMPTON, Ga. – A visibly somber Tony Stewart, at times bordering on tears, faced the media and the NASCAR world for the first time in nearly three weeks Friday afternoon at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Stewart has been in seclusion for nearly three weeks since the tragic accident that claimed the life of 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr. in a sprint car race at a upstate New York dirt track on August 9.

“This has been one of the toughest tragedies I’ve ever had to deal with both professionally and personally, and this is something that will affect my life forever,” Stewart read from a statement he personally wrote.

“This is a sadness and a pain that I hope no one has to experience in their life,” he continued. “With that being said, I know the pain and the mourning that Kevin Ward’s family and friends are experiencing is something I can’t possibly imagine.”

Stewart addressed every member of Ward’s immediate family, saying, “I want Kevin’s father, Kevin Sr., and his mother Pam, his sisters Christi, Cavanaugh and Katelyn to know that every day I’m thinking about them and praying for them.”

MORE: Tony Stewart to return to race at Atlanta this weekend

Stewart did not answer questions from the media.

“I also understand that all of you have many questions and you want a lot of answers,” Stewart read from his statement. “However, I need to respect the ongoing investigation process and cannot answer and address the questions at this time. And I’m not sure if I could answer them anyway.”

MORE: Kurt Busch, Danica Patrick glad to see boss, teammate and friend Tony Stewart back in race car

Stewart did not shed any light on what he’s done while being in seclusion, but expressed that after nearly three weeks, being back in the race car is the best thing for him right now.

“I’ve taken the last couple of weeks off out of respect for Kevin and his family and also to cope with the accident in my own way,” Stewart said. “It’s given me the time about life and how easy it is to take it for granted. I miss my team, my teammates and I miss being back in the race car. I think being back in the car with my racing family will help me get through this difficult time.”

MORE: Tony Stewart’s return to NASCAR may be one of hardest things he’s ever done

Stewart’s part of the 10-minute press conference lasted just under 2 minutes, 30 seconds, while Stewart-Haas Racing executive vice president Brett Frood took approximately a half-dozen questions.

“I’m here to race this weekend and I appreciate your respect and there will be a day when I can sit here and answer the questions,” Stewart concluded.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Latest Posts
  1. Andreas Bakkerud to sub for Piquet Jr. with SH Rallycross at X Games

    May 28, 2015, 9:45 AM EDT

    Photo: SH Rallycross Photo: SH Rallycross

    Andreas Bakkerud will fill in for Piquet while he’s on Formula E duty in Russia.

  2. Wolff answers fans questions following Monaco pit error

    May 28, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 12:  Mercedes GP Executive Director Toto Wolff speaks with members of the media next to St Kilda beach during previews to the Australian Formula One Grand Prix on March 12, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff took part in a Twitter Q&A earlier this week.

  3. Foust reflects on Red Bull GRC’s evolution, growth, what wins mean now

    May 28, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    Photo: Tony DiZinno Photo: Tony DiZinno

    Two-time series champion looks ahead to a big year in Red Bull GRC with Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross.

  4. Gossage to Walker: “We needed a more competitive race this year than last year”

    May 28, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    The Bombardier Learjet 500k Getty Images

    Gossage and Walker are in contact about how to best move forward with super speedway aero kits ahead of June 6 IndyCar race.

  5. Final tally of Pippa Mann’s 2015 #GetInvolved campaign revealed

    May 28, 2015, 7:30 AM EDT

    Photo: INDYCAR Photo: INDYCAR

    No. 63 driver tops $61,000 raised for Susan G. Komen this month.

  6. IndyCar drivers break down Belle Isle Park street course

    May 27, 2015, 4:57 PM EDT

    Chevrolet Indy Dual In Detroit - Dual II Getty Images

    The last seven races held in Detroit have been won by a different driver.

  7. INDYCAR announces post-Indy 500 penalties; Coyne, Herta pit penalties among them

    May 27, 2015, 4:17 PM EDT

    Photo: INDYCAR Photo: INDYCAR

    Penalties doled out after the Indy 500, most notably to the No. 19 and 98 teams for pit incidents.

  8. Tristan Vautier, Rodolfo Gonzalez to race for Dale Coyne Racing in Detroit Duals

    May 27, 2015, 2:08 PM EDT

    Tristan Vautier Tristan Vautier

    Gonzalez returns to No. 18 car after running it in the Grand Prix of Alabama.

  9. Graham Rahal feels ‘really good’ about Detroit Dual

    May 27, 2015, 1:16 PM EDT

    Graham Rahal Graham Rahal

    After three straight top-five finishes, Graham Rahal returns to the site of his only 2014 podium.

  10. Volkswagen Andretti pair of Foust, Speed seek better fortunes, consistency

    May 27, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT

    Photo: Red Bull Content Pool Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

    Ahead of the Red Bull GRC season, Tanner Foust and Scott Speed look for better luck in the pair of Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Beetles.

  11. Charlie Kimball looks to capitalize on Indianapolis performance in Detroit Dual

    May 27, 2015, 12:28 PM EDT

    Charlie Kimball Charlie Kimball

    Charlie Kimball says his team has hit its stride after two straight top-five finishes.

  12. Wilson adds Andretti FE to his diverse racing portfolio, racing at Moscow

    May 27, 2015, 10:41 AM EDT

    Justin Wilson AP

    Wilson and Andretti continue relationship at FE race in Moscow.

  13. Racing for Cancer, DeBoer partner ahead of Le Mans Festival

    May 27, 2015, 9:23 AM EDT

    deboer_3D_rendering_lemans

    Racing for Cancer to make trip to this year’s Le Mans, with Derek DeBoer in an Aston Martin Vantage GT4.

  14. Red Bull GRC course layout for Ft. Lauderdale opener revealed

    May 27, 2015, 8:16 AM EDT

    FtLauderdaleMain Getty Images

    The Red Bull GRC season kicks off in Fort Lauderdale this weekend.

  15. Fast Facts: Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit

    May 27, 2015, 7:44 AM EDT

    IndyCar Detroit Auto Racing AP

    Fast facts heading into this weekend’s Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit, courtesy of IndyCar PR staff.

  16. Chaves wins Indy 500 Rookie of the Year honors

    May 26, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Chaves best of two first-year drivers in 99th Indianapolis 500.

  17. Nelson Piquet, SH Rallycross look for big second year in Red Bull GRC

    May 26, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    Photo: Red Bull Content Pool Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

    Look out for Nelson Piquet Jr. and SH Rallycross to have a big year in 2015.