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The Tony Stewart Timeline: Follow The Latest News & Info

After a 3 a.m. ET press conference confirmed reports that Tony Stewart had struck and killed a sprint car driver at Canandaigua Motorsports Park, a dirt track in New York state, the racing world woke up Sunday morning to a plethora of information. Some of it was new, especially for those who weren’t still awake at the time of those original news briefs.

RUTHERFORD: Stewart Strikes, Kills Driver at Canandaigua Motorsports Park

Originally, it was determined that all would proceed as planned at Watkins Glen International for Stewart and his No. 14 team.

Shortly after 7 a.m. ET, Stewart-Haas Racing Vice President of Competition Greg Zipadelli told USA Today‘s Jeff Gluck that it was “business as usual” for Stewart, meaning he would race in the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen despite the Canandaigua accident that killed 20-year-old Kevin Ward, Jr.

The decision was met with its share of controversy. Multiple followers of the story on Twitter voiced their displeasure with Stewart’s choice to race, some taking issue with the “business” comment, which was seen as insensitive toward Ward and his family.

Eventually, NASCAR could not confirm what Stewart’s plans were, and in the 10 a.m. hour, it was official: the three-time champion would not be racing at Watkins Glen. It was an about face reporters were told later was “Stewart’s” decision.

Immediately, Regan Smith, a former full-time competitor in the Sprint Cup Series and current driver for JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series, was announced as Stewart’s replacement, with the No. 14 crew working to replace their seat in the Chevrolet for Smith’s use.

As the news came flooding in, multiple drivers, teams and other entities shared their takes on the situation, many offering condolences – including Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Casey Mears and Bass Pro Shops.


NASCAR then issued its own statement in the 11 a.m. hour, sending its condolences to Ward’s family and adding that it “support[s] Tony Stewart’s decision to miss today’s race.”

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends, and fellow competitors of Kevin Ward Jr. We support Tony Stewart’s decision to miss today’s race and we will continue to respect the process and timeline of the local authorities and will continue to monitor this situation moving forward.” NASCAR

“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 Watkins Glen. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and everyone affected by this tragedy.” Tony Stewart

“Regarding the tragic event that occurred last night at Canadaigua Motorsports Park, our thoughts and prayers go out to all involved and to the loved ones of Kevin Ward, Jr.”  Artis M. Brown, Global Motorsports Manager, ExxonMobil

Mike Arning, a spokesman for NASCAR team Stewart-Haas Racing, which Stewart co-owns, issued the following statement around the same time the Ward family had its own response:

“A tragic accident took place last night during a sprint car race in which Tony Stewart was participating. Tony was unhurt, but a fellow competitor lost his life. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. We’re still attempting to sort through all the details and we appreciate your understanding during this difficult time.”

“We appreciate the prayers and support we are receiving from the community, but we need time to grieve and wrap our heads around all of this.” Ward Family

As the race began, many began to wonder if Tony Stewart would face criminal charges as a result of the nature of the crash.

Authorities were investigating the incident but would later announce, in a 3 p.m. press conference that there are no criminal charges expected against Stewart at this time.

All of this discussion was happening while the race at Watkins Glen International was ongoing. AJ Allmendinger would go on to win the race while Stewart’s replacement Regan Smith would finish 37th.

Even after the race ended, condolences continued to flow through.

Meanwhile, outside of Canandaigua Motorsports Park, flowers from mourners and those wishing to pay tribute to Ward began to build up.

There is not yet word of what Stewart’s plans are for next weekend at Michigan or for the rest of the season.

About the author

Rutherford is the managing editor of Frontstretch, a position he gained in 2015 after serving on the editing staff for two years. At his day job, he's a journalist covering music and rock charts at Billboard. He lives in New York City, but his heart is in Ohio -- you know, like that Hawthorne Heights song.

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