I feel like I’ve kept my Tony Stewart/Kevin Ward Jr.-related comments to at least somewhat of a minimum in this blog space since the whole nightmare occurred on Aug. 9 at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park. I think I’ve pretty much just touched on this issue to voice my opinion, for whatever it’s worth, when there are new developments in the issue/case. One thing I have done in those limited posts, though, is express my opinion that this is an unfortunate accident and that Tony Stewart, in my mind, is being unfairly persecuted by some tabloid and mainstream media, presumably to get viewers, readers, etc.
I’m bringing it all up again, because an announcement came yesterday that the evidence collected is now being passed from the Ontario County (N.Y.) District Attorney’s Office to a grand jury. There’s no word yet when the grand jury will look at said evidence and hear testimony, or if Stewart, himself, will testify.
“Upon my review of all of the information contained in the entire investigation, I have made the determination that it would be appropriate to submit the evidence to a grand jury, for their determination as to what action should be taken in this matter,” District Attorney Michael Tantillo said in a statement on Tuesday.
Sticking to my original opinion that, not only was this an accident, but taking it a step further to say that I don’t think Stewart did everything wrong, I hate that the investigation/case has gone this far. That being said, I’m still optimistic that Stewart will be cleared of all charges, at least when it comes to those of a criminal kind.
Yes, I am saying that, despite not seeing all the evidence the Sheriff’s Department collected and passed on to the District Attorney, who then is going to pass it along to a grand jury. But I did see that horrific original video that surfaced soon after the incident. And I have to say, that video convinced me that — and I hate to say this since the young man is dead because of it — Ward, at least somewhat, caused his own death by climbing out of his car and approached a moving vehicle. Yes, many drivers at all levels and forms of racing have done similar and lived to talk about it. But that’s where this old saying comes in — “If your friend jumped off a cliff, would you jump, too?”
What concerns me, though, is that this evidence is going to be viewed by a group of people who don’t have an understanding of sprint cars, specifically the nature of sprint cars and their handling. Granted, I’ve never driven one myself, but I’ve talked to several people who have in the past or do now. I sure hope some sprint car drivers, a.k.a. experts, are called on to testify.
Also Stewart’s reputation for having a bad temper may come into play. This kind of bothers me, too. I keep seeing over and over on TV, clips like the one of Stewart throwing his helmet at Matt Kenseth’s car at Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway in 2012. I’ve seen several drivers throw helmets and other racing equipment at cars, especially at Bristol.
Yes, Stewart’s had other incidents that have resulted in his critics being critical of his temper, and maybe the guy does have anger issues. But even if he does, that doesn’t automatically equate to someone going out and running over someone intentionally and negating the responsibility of the other driver to not approach moving vehicles. Just saying.
What do you think of this whole Stewart mess? Talk to us on Twitter at @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook: NASCAR Examiner.
Also, here’s a gallery of Tony Stewart photos (photos courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR):