Updated Sunday, 2:40 p.m.
The Los Angeles Times reported Tony Stewart issued a statement: "There aren’t words to describe the sadness I feel about the accident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr. It’s a very emotional time for all involved, and it is the reason I’ve decided not to participate in today’s race at WGI. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and everyone affected by this tragedy.”
Updated Sunday 10:30 a.m.:
AP reported via Twitter that Tony Stewart will not race in Sunday’s NASCAR event, according to his team. News that Stewart had planned to race at Watkins Glen despite Saturday’s fatal incident met with harsh backlash.
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It’s “business as usual” for Tony Stewart after the NASCAR Sprint Cup champion struck and killed a fellow driver, but not everyone thinks it should be.
Greg Zipadelli, competition director for Stewart-Haas Racing, told USA Today Stewart will participate in a scheduled race Sunday at Watkins Glen International in Upstate New York. “We’re business as usual today,” Zipadelli said.
Late Saturday, Stewart struck and killed driver Kevin Ward Jr., 20, who exited his car after it crashed during a dirt-track race at New York’s Canandaigua Motorsports Park. The incident happened after an on-track altercation between Stewart and Ward, Sporting News reported. Details of the altercation are still being investigated by the local sheriff’s department, and Stewart, 43, is cooperating fully with authorities. He is said to be “very upset” and “visibly shaken” by the incident, AP reported.
News Stewart would race as scheduled Sunday was met with harsh criticism and backlash in the media and on social networks. “This is flat-out wrong,” Yahoo Sports writer Jay Busbee wrote. “And if Tony Stewart and his team can't see that, then NASCAR needs to step in and park Stewart.”
Accross Twitter, the sentiment is similar:
â€” Pablo (@MadArgentinian) August 10, 2014
â€” VirAl (@mstry001) August 10, 2014
I really couldn't care less about Tony Stewart's intent. He killed another human being last night, he shouldn't race today.
â€” Charlie Burris (@Charlie_Burris) August 10, 2014
Stewart’s Facebook page was flooded with comments early Sunday, many of which were promptly deleted. Many commenters suggested the incident was intentional (the word “murderer” was used numerous times) while others came to Stewart’s defense. The driver is known for his short temper.
Cheez-It 355 at the Glen is scheduled to begin Sunday at 1 p.m. EDT.