played a role in is said to be standing behind three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart’s decision not to race this weekend after the sprint car he was driving struck and killed a fellow driver during a short track sprint car race, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Stewart was involved in an incident last Saturday in which 20-year old Kevin Ward Jr. tried to confront him on the track during a sprint-car race at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in upstate New York. Ward, shaking his fist in anger at Stewart as he drove past him, was clipped by Stewart’s back right tire and killed.
The incident prompted Stewart to pull out of Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen. Brett Frood, executive vice president of Stewart-Haas Racing, was originally quoted in saying things were “business as usual” for the driver, however the team changed their minds shortly after and announced Stewart would not race.
Stewart’s team was in touch with GM officials as they decided whether or not Stewart should participate in the NASCAR event. WSJ says GM didn’t demand that he pull out of the race but supported his decision to do so. GM was also contacted the morning of the race by Stewart-Haas racing notifying them Stewart would not participate.
GM has strong ties with Stewart and the team he co-owns, Stewart-Haas racing. Stewart drives a Chevrolet SS in Sprint Cup competition and even had a special-edition 2014 Chevrolet Silverado concept bearing his name made up by the automaker. Stewart-Haas spokesman Mike Arning stressed that “no corporate entity played a role in Tony’s decision to sit out Sunday’s race,” however.
An investigation into the fatal accident is still ongoing and will take “at least another two weeks,” Ontario County Sheriff Philip C. Povero told WSJ. As of right now, police say there is no evidence suggesting criminal intent on Stewart’s part.
Update: an earlier version of this story claimed GM played a role in Stewart’s decision to not race at The Glen this weekend. The new version highlights that GM only reportedly supported Stewart and his team, rather than forcing the team’s hand.