Embattled Tony Stewart announced yesterday that he was withdrawing from the Cheez-It 355 at the Glen, last night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at the Watkins Glen International race track in New York. This came one day after an on-track incident that had resulted in the death of fellow competitor Kevin Ward Jr.
The accident took place Saturday night, as Stewart accidentally struck Ward, 20, as the young driver exited his car to confront the 43-year-old Stewart about previous contact between their vehicles. An amateur video of the incident was posted that same night on YouTube, and in there, people can be heard accusing Stewart of running Ward over as emergency personnel tends to him. According to sheriff Philip Povero, the people who witnessed the accident were “horrified” and “extremely shocked” by what had transpired.
According to local authorities, Stewart has been cooperative with authorities, and no charges will be filed against him in the meantime. His decision to withdraw from the Watkins Glen race came after Stewart-Haas Racing made controversial comments, suggesting that Stewart would take part in the race as it was “business as usual” for the veteran driver. The team followed that up with an announcement that Stewart “felt strongly” about withdrawing from yesterday’s race. “There aren’t words to describe the sadness I feel about the accident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr.,” read Stewart’s official statement released yesterday. “My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and everyone affected by this tragedy.”
The Cheez-It 355 at The Glen was won by A.J. Allmendinger, who won his first-ever NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race as he held off second-placer Marcos Ambrose in the final two laps. Third, fourth, and fifth place were taken by Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson, and Carl Edwards respectively. Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished 11th yesterday, moved into the series lead, overtaking Jeff Gordon, who could only finish 34th after taking pole position at yesterday’s race.