WATKINS GLEN, NY — Story and Audio By Race Chaser Online New York Correspondent Steven Ovens — Photo By Brad Ovens — After last night’s 360 sprint car crash at Canandaigua Motorsports Park involving Tony Stewart and Kevin Ward, Jr, Greg Zipadelli was the first from the Stewart-Haas Racing camp to speak at Watkins Glen International.
Zipadelli along with a member of the PR team at Stewart-Haas addressed the media at a 10:15 press conference at the track — confirming that Stewart would not race in today’s Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355 at the Glen.
Regan Smith will substitute for Stewart in the No. 14 Chevrolet.
“It’s just an unbelievable tragedy. Our hearts go out to Kevin and his family- thoughts and prayers. With that being said, we feel that, as a group, Tony will not drive today. Regan Smith is on his way up. NASCAR has approved for him to get in the race car today. They’re going to do everything they can to help us expedite getting his seat in and comfortable.”
Zipadelli also spoke not only as the Competition Director at Stewart-Haas, but also as a friend to Stewart.
“He’s a brother to me, he’s more than just my boss. I support Tony Stewart,” said Zipadelli.
Following the conference, NASCAR issued a statement offering its condolences to Ward’s family.
“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,” the statement said.
Stewart also released a statement around 1:40 p.m. ET.
“There aren’t words to describe the sadness I feel about the accident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr.,” Stewart said.
“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.”
In recap of what is known at this time, RaceChaser Online has confirmed that NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Tony Stewart was racing a 360 Sprint Car at an Empire Super Sprints race at the Canandaigua Motorsports Park in Canandaigua, New York on Saturday night when he was involved in an accident in which his car struck 20-year-old racer Kevin Ward, Jr., who had climbed out of his car after an incident involving the two of them led to Ward hitting the outside wall.
Ward’s injuries were fatal as it was announced early Sunday morning by Ontario County Sheriff Phil Povero. An investigation with the Ontario County Sheriff’s Department is ongoing. Povero added that no charges are pending as a result of the investigation at this point in time and that Stewart was cooperative with anything that was asked of him by investigators.
Here is the audio from this morning’s press conference at Watkins Glen International: