After three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart hit and killed Kevin Ward Jr. during a race in Upstate New York on Saturday, many have began to vilify the driver. While Stewart will most likely be able to salvage his career after Ward’s tragic death, it won’t be without finesse and authenticity.
One thing that shocked many after Ward’s death was Stewart's initial intent to race on Sunday. It was a big mistake, Dan Hill, a crisis management specialist, told the International Business Times during a phone interview.
“It definitely sent the wrong message to even think about racing the next day,” Hill said. "There are some things that are bigger than sports and business.”
Since putting out an official statement on Sunday, Stewart has remained relatively quiet, which some might find unsettling. “He’s in a very difficult situation,” Hill explained to IBT. “I’m sure that his legal advisors are suggesting that he not make too many comments right now. I’m not saying that’s the right thing; I’m just not surprised.”
Stewart’s reputation for having a temper has also hurt the driver, according to Hill.
“The public feels like they have a right to hear from him, but really it’s the family friends and colleagues of Ward. The public isn’t really owed anything even though we feel we are,” Hill said. “What we really want to see is an authentic reaction. Not something lawyers write. I think that’s what people want to see from him: a real, honest, authentic reaction.”
Hill noted Stewart most likely omitted the word “sorry” from his initial statement because that can be seen as an admission of guilt, something his attorneys would probably advise against. The investigation is currently ongoing, but as of now the Ontario County sheriff in upstate New York doesn't expect to file charges against the driver. They do not believe he acted with “criminal intent.”
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