Tony Stewart press conference: "It's been hard for me to function"


Tony Stewart finally sat down for a Q&A with the media regarding the tragedy at Canandaigua Motorsports Park.

Members of the NASCAR media were invited to Stewart-Haas Racing today and were finally allowed to have a Q&A with Tony Stewart, seven weeks after the tragedy that claimed the life of Sprint Car racer Kevin Ward Jr. Media was not allowed to ask questions during the Atlanta press conference.

SHR's Mike Arning opened the presser by stating that questions regarding the accident itself would not be answered because the Ontario County Police Department already addressed that.

Stewart talks about Kevin and finding closure

Stewart explained that he didn't know Kevin before the accident, but from what he could gather, he was talented and had a 'promising Sprint Car career ahead of him.' "Obviously after the accident I have read a lot about him. From what I read, I think he had a really promising career as sprint-car driver ahead of him." 

I was initially hurt by some of the things I read but I looked at who they were from...people who I've never met

Tony Stewart

He went on to say that he doesn't need to talk to the Ward family as some form of closure, but would be more than willing to speak with them should they reach out. "This is going to be a healing process for me. It makes you think about a lot of things other than racing," he said. "What is helped more than anything is being at the racetrack." 

In response to the news that Ward was found to have been impaired by marijuana, Stewart said that it didn't matter to him.

Getting back to normal

He talked about getting back to normal, admitting that he may never be himself again. "I think about it a lot every day. That's why it's good to get back in the racecar. It gives me a little time to not think about it. It's not something that will go away. It's always going to be a part of my life. It is not ever going to go away, but hopefully it gets easier." He declared 

Everybody made their decision and picked side off 100% of information they got, which is about 10% of info out there 

Tony Stewart

He reiterated that he has no desire to get back into a Sprint Car at this time, and has not gotten involved in the business side of either Stewart-Haas Racing or his own Sprint Car team. "I've let my team down ... I've been a cheerleader but that's about it. It's been hard for me to function"

Tony also confirmed that he has seen the video and has also sought out professional counseling in dealing with the tragedy.

Stewart calls people taking sides 'disappointing'

Tony also took a moment to address those taking sides in this tragedy. "A young man lost his life. His family is mourning. I'm in mourning. It’s a waste of time to pick sides. It’s like watching people throw darts at each other."

"Everybody made their decision and picked side off 100% of information they got, which is about 10% of info out there ... The reaction has been disappointing to me. Even people that were supportive of us (alluded to people saying negative things about the DA)."

I'm glad I had my sunglasses on ... I'll never forget that moment.

Stewart on response from Atlanta fans

He tried to keep himself away from the firestorm but did end up reading what people were saying about him. "I was initially hurt by some of the things I read but I looked at who they were from...people who I've never met and don't know me."

Response from fans at Atlanta made Stewart very emotional

When he returned to action at Atlanta, he walked out to driver intros and to his surprise, was greeted by massive cheers and rapturous applause. He joked with the media, saying, "I thought I walked out in Dale Jr.'s spot for a moment." Then revealing how emotional it made him ... "I'm glad I had my sunglasses on." He described it as 'overwhelming' to see the support from fans of all kinds ... "ll never forget that moment."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart , Kevin Ward Jr.
Teams Stewart-Haas Racing
Article type Press conference