NASCAR champ Stewart to race again, forever affected by tragedy

Fri Aug 29, 2014 3:32pm EDT
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By Daniel Wallis

(Reuters) - NASCAR champion Tony Stewart said on Friday that killing a fellow driver in a racing incident this month will affect him for the rest of his life, but that returning to the track this weekend will help him deal with the tragedy.

Stewart has missed three races since he struck and killed 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr. in an Aug. 9 accident during a non-NASCAR sprint race in upstate New York. He will take to the track again this weekend in Atlanta.

An emotional Stewart said on Friday it was one of the toughest tragedies he has ever had to deal with and "something that will definitely affect my life forever."

The three-time NASCAR champion told a news conference in Atlanta that he wanted Ward's family to know he was thinking about them and praying for them every day.

"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 has given me the time to think about life, and how easy it is to take it for granted."

But he missed his team and teammates, he said. "I think that being back in the car this weekend with my racing family will help me get through this difficult time," he said.

The investigation into the crash will take at least another two weeks, Sheriff Philip Povero of Ontario County, New York, said in a statement on Friday.

Authorities said early in the probe that they had found no evidence of criminal behavior by Stewart.   Continued...

Aug 29, 2014; Hampton, GA, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Tony Stewart during a press conference at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports