NASCAR driver Tony Stewart offers to speak to family of killed driver Ward

Mon Sep 29, 2014 4:37pm EDT
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By Lewis Franck

KANNAPOLIS N.C. (Reuters) - NASCAR star Tony Stewart said on Monday he was willing to "be available" to Kevin Ward's family even though he has no need to speak them to achieve "closure" in the dirt-track incident that killed the 20-year-old driver last month.

Normally brash and outspoken, Stewart was subdued during a 30-minute question-and-answer session with journalists at the headquarters of Stewart-Haas Racing in Kannapolis, North Carolina.

It marked the first time he spoke publicly since a grand jury in New York state on Wednesday decided to bring no charges against him stemming from Ward's death on Aug. 9 at Canandaigua Motorsports Park.

Ward died after being struck on the race track by the car driven by the three-time NASCAR champion. Ward's family has been publicly critical of Stewart since the incident.

"I want to be available to them if they want to talk about it," Stewart said of Ward's family. "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."

Stewart said he was relieved not to face charges.

"I would be lying if I said there wasn't a piece of relief, but that was very short-lived. Because as quickly as it was relief in my heart, it went right back to the fact that we lost Kevin. We lost a young driver that had a lot of talent," he added.

Stewart also said he did not know when - or if - he would return to sprint-car racing. "At this point I won't be in one for a while," he said.   Continued...

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Tony Stewart during a press conference at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia August 29, 2014.  REUTERS/Kevin Liles/USA TODAY Sports/Files