Kevin Ward Jr., the dirt-track racer who was run over on the track by NASCAR star Tony Stewart, died of massive blunt trauma, the medical examiner ruled Monday after an autopsy. The ruling was announced at a press conference by Philip Povero, the sheriff of Ontario County, New York. He said an investigation had uncovered no facts to suggest criminal behavior by Stewart, but he stressed that the investigation was not finished.
Ward, 20, charged into the middle of the track during a race on Saturday night after Stewart buzzed him and he spun out. As Stewart's car approached Ward, it appeared to fishtail, and Ward was sucked under a wheel and thrown into the air. Stewart sat out his NASCAR race the following day. He said in a statement that “there aren’t words to describe the sadness I feel.”
BROOKLYN, MI (NBC) -- Tony Stewart will not race in Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
Stewart’s public relations director, Mike Arning, made the announcement in an email to media late Thursday afternoon.
Stewart will be replaced behind the wheel of the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet by Jeff Burton, who is retiring at the end of this season to become a full-time analyst for NASCAR on NBC.
Burton’s placement in Stewart’s car is only for Sunday’s race.
“Stewart’s plans for upcoming Sprint Cup races have yet to be determined,” Arning’s statement noted.
Burton, along with SHR executive vice president Brett Frood and SHR vice president of competition Greg Zipadelli, will meet with the media Friday morning in the infield media center at MIS.
Stewart was replaced in this past Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen by Nationwide Series driver Regan Smith.