Nascar ace Tony Stewart kills driver in tragic collision in upstate New York
Nascar champ 'very upset' after his car strikes dead a fellow competitor who had tried to confront him during their race in upstate New York
Associated Press in Canandaigua, New York
Tony Stewart pulled out of the Nascar race at Watkins Glen yesterday, 12 hours after the three-time champion struck and killed a sprint car driver who had climbed from his car and was on the darkened dirt track trying to confront him during a race in upstate New York.
Greg Zipadelli, competition director for Stewart-Haas Racing, said Stewart "feels strongly" about not racing following Ward's fatal accident. The decision was an about-face for the organisation, which had said when the track opened that Stewart would be behind the wheel of his No 14 Chevrolet when the green flag waved.
"We gave Tony some time to sleep on it. He feels strongly this is the right thing to do," Zipadelli said. "All you can do is what you feel is right, and we feel this is right. We get through today and do it the best we can as a group.
"He's going through a tough time. It's emotional for him."
Regan Smith will drive Stewart's car instead.
Ward had crashed following contact with Stewart just one lap earlier and got out of his car as it was stopped along the fence. Video of the incident showed Ward walking from his crashed car onto the racing surface as cars circled by, and, as he gestured at Stewart's passing car, he was struck.
A video of the crash at Canandaigua Motorsports Park showed Ward, wearing a black helmet and firesuit on a dimly lit track, walking toward Stewart's car before being hit and hurtling about 15 metres.
Authorities questioned Stewart but said no criminal charges were imminent. Stewart travelled to Watkins Glen International following police questioning.
Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero said Stewart was "visibly shaken" and had been cooperative in the investigation. Authorities were asking spectators and others to turn over any video they recorded of the crash.
Povero said the driver was pronounced dead on Saturday night at a Canandaigua hospital.