Columbus Sprint Cup driver Tony Stewart described the sprint car accident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr. as one of the toughest tragedies he has ever had to deal with, saying the sadness and pain in the aftermath has been overwhelming.
In a 1 p.m. press conference at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Stewart gave a short statement, telling reporters that because the investigation into Ward's death at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports is continuing, he could not answer questions about the incident at the track.
Naming the Ward family members individually, he expressed his sympathy to the family and said he is thinking about them and praying for them every day.
Brett Frood, executive vice president of Stewart-Haas Racing, took a few questions following Stewart's statement.
Frood said it was Stewart's decision to decide to race in Sunday's Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500, and his appearance in the race is part of Stewart's healing process.
Frood said the NASCAR community is Stewart's family, in addition to his parents and extended family in Indiana.
He also said that when Stewart puts on a helmet on race day, he will be ready to race at the speedway.
For more on this story, see Saturday's Republic.