New York: Tony Stewart won`t compete in Sunday`s NASCAR event after striking and killing a sprint car driver who left his damaged vehicle mid-race to confront Stewart on Saturday night.
Stewart, who is one of the most popular drivers in American stock car racing, has pulled out of Sunday`s National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) race at Watkin`s Glen International, Stewart-Haas Racing announced Sunday morning.
"A tragic accident took place last night during a sprint car race in which Tony Stewart was participating. Tony was unhurt but a fellow competitor lost his life," Stewart-Haas Racing said in a statement.
Track officials identified the victim as 20-year-old American Kevin Ward Jr.
The 43-year-old Stewart was questioned by police and released. No charges have been laid but the police investigation continues.
The Ontario County Sheriff`s Department said in a news release the incident happened near turn two at the halfway point of a 25-lap Lucas Oil Super Sprint Features race. The lower level racing event was being held on a dirt track on the eve of a NASCAR race at Watkins Glen where Stewart was scheduled to compete on Sunday.
Stewart first bumped Ward`s car and knocked it out of the race which was being held at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in upstate New York.
On his next time around the track Stewart`s vehicle then collided with Ward who had gotten out of his car and was walking down the track pointing his finger in the direction of Stewart.
Stewart had qualified 13th for the 90-lap NASCAR event at Watkins Glen. He is a record five-time race winner at the 3.9-kilometre (2.45-mile) road course. NASCAR is the largest sanctioning body of stock car racing in America.
The fatal incident comes one year after Stewart broke his right tibia and fibula during a wreck in a sprint car race in Iowa.
Last month in Michigan, Stewart competed in a sprint car race for the first time since his injury.