Stewart-Ward death investigation referred to N.Y. Grand Jury

Official Statement from Ontario Co. NY District Attorney:

“Over the past several weeks I have reviewed with members of the Ontario County Sheriff’s Department their investigation, as it progressed, in the Tony Stewart matter. Recently that office concluded its work and forwarded the complete case file to me. 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. Accordingly, the evidence developed in the investigation will be presented to an Ontario County grand jury in the near future. As grand jury proceedings in New York State are strictly confidential by law, I am unable to state when the matter will be scheduled, other than to state that I intend to present the matter in the near future. Similarly, because of the confidential nature of these proceedings, I cannot state who will be called as witnesses, or what any witness’s expected testimony will be. When the presentation has been completed and a determination has been made, I will advise the public and the media at that time of the results.”

-Michael Tantillo, Ontario County District Attorney

Statement from Tony Stewart

8/29/2014 | Jamie Squire/Getty Images

8/29/2014 | Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The following is a statement from Tony Stewart regarding the decision by the Office of the Ontario County (N.Y.) District Attorney to send the case of the tragic accident involving Kevin Ward Jr. on Aug. 9 at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park to a grand jury.

“I respect the time and effort spent by both the Ontario County District Attorney and the Sheriff’s Office in investigating this tragic accident. I look forward to this process being completed, and I will continue to provide my full cooperation.” 

Source: PR from SHR/True Speed Communication

So what exactly is a grand jury?

According to a handbook provided by New York’s court system, a grand jury is established as the authority that decides whether someone should be formally accused of a crime. Seated as a cross-section of the community, the grand jury is designed to uphold laws “by indicting those individuals believed to have committed crimes and to protect the rights of others against unfounded accusations.” According to the New York constitution, no person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime unless on indictment of a grand jury. In New York, a grand jury consists of 23 jurors and no alternatives.

What does a grand jury do?

A grand jury decides only whether a person should be charged with a crime (based on evidence presented and the law). A trial jury decides the person’s guilt.

In New York, the grand jury has three options:

–Voting in favor of an indictment

–Voting to dismiss the charges

–Directing the prosecutor to file information accusing the person of an offense less serious than a felony.

To formally charge an accused person with a crime, 12 grand jurors who heard all the essential and critical evidence must agree there is legally sufficient evidence and reasonable cause that a crime was committed. At least 16 grand jurors must be present for a quorum.

Source: New York State Unified Court System Grand Juror’s Handbook / USA TODAY

NASCAR Statement from Brett Jewkes, NASCAR Chief Communications Officer Regarding Announcement of Ontario (N.Y.) County District Attorney

“We are aware of the completed investigation and the announced next steps. First, our thoughts continue to be with all who have been impacted by this tragedy. We will monitor this process and stay in close contact with Stewart-Haas Racing. It would be inappropriate for NASCAR to comment on this case so we will continue to respect the process and authorities involved.”

Tony Stewart is reported to race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Race in Loudon, NH this weekend.

Stewart-Haas Racing Announces Pit Crew Swap Between Nos. 4 and 14 Teams

Stewart-Haas Racing, the championship-winning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team, has swapped the pit crews of it Nos. 4 and 14 teams, effective immediately.

Beginning with Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois, the No. 14 team’s tire changers, tire carriers and jackmen will switch to the No. 4 team, and vice versa.

The new pit crew lineup for the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s team is as follows:

·         Front Tire Changer: Ira Jo Hussey (Manchester, New Hampshire)

·         Front Tire Carrier: Todd Drakulich (Tucson, Arizona)

·         Rear Tire Changer: Daniel Smith (Concord, North Carolina)

·         Rear Tire Carrier: Mike Morneau (Oxford, Maine)

·         Jackman: Mike Casto (Proctor, West Virginia)

All of the above were members of the 2011 Sprint Cup Series championship-winning team with driver Tony Stewart.

The new pit crew lineup for the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 team is as follows:

·         Front Tire Changer: Bryan Jacobsen (Honesdale, Pennsylvania)

·         Front Tire Carrier: Brett Morrell (Windham, Maine)

·         Rear Tire Changer: Jonathan Sherman (Monroe, Louisiana)

·         Rear Tire Carrier: Josh Sobecki (New Kensington, Pennsylvania)

·         Jackman: Getty Cavitt, Jr. (Owensboro, Kentucky)

“We made this change in the best interests of the entire organization,” said Greg Zipadelli, vice president of competition, Stewart-Haas Racing. “Our primary goal is to win races and championships, and this pit crew swap provides championship experience to the No. 4 team and continued race-winning experience to the No. 14 team.”

The No. 4 team and driver Kevin Harvick head into the opening race of the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup seeded sixth among the 16 driver/team combinations competing in this year’s Chase. This is Harvick’s fifth consecutive Chase appearance and his eighth since the inception of the Chase in 2004. He finished fourth in his Chase debut in 2006, 10th in 2007, fourth in 2008, third in 2010, third in 2011, eighth in 2012 and third in 2013.

Joining Harvick in the Chase is his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kurt Busch. Busch and the No. 41 Haas Automation team are seeded 10th. This is Busch’s second straight Chase appearance and eighth overall. He won the championship in his Chase debut in 2004, then finished 10th in 2005, seventh in 2007, fourth in 2009, 11th in 2010, 11th in 2011 and 10th in 2013.

Source: SHR Press Release/True Communications

Hendrick Motorsports confirms issue with Jimmie Johnson’s helmet caused dehydration

Jimmie Johnson  after the race at Richmond. Photo via Twitter

Jimmie Johnson after the race at Richmond. Photo via Twitter

Jimmie Johnson was  suffering from what appeared to be dehydration as he exited his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS following last Saturday night’s race at Richmond International Speedway.

After he was treated and released from the infield care center, Johnson addressed what happened.

“Just got dehydrated in the car,” he said. ”I started cramping when I got out of the race car. Then when I was cramping I was trying to stand up because I was fine when I sat down then I would stand up and I would get dizzy. When I would sit back down I would start to cramp again. Just really dehydrated. Ended up with five liters of IV in me. I was definitely dry. I will have to dig in and understand what happened in the car. I was hot in the car so I will have to make sure all my fans were working and stuff like that. Scary moment and I hate that it happened, but have to learn from it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Crew Chief Chad Knaus reported there was nothing wrong with the car. However, Johnson had reported that the cooling system for his helmet was blowing warm air and that likely caused his dehydration.

His Hendrick Motorsports team confirmed this was the reason on Tuesday.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase Grid is set; What’s next?

The 16 drivers locked into the Chase. Not photoed: Jimmie Johnson (Illness - Dehydration). Photo credit: Richmond International Raceway

The 16 drivers locked into the Chase. Not photoed: Jimmie Johnson (Illness – Dehydration). Photo credit: Richmond International Raceway

298112Now that the Chase field has been set, here’s a reminder of how the new format will work:

The first three races of the Chase (Chicagoland, New Hampshire, Dover) will be known as the Challenger Round; The next round of races at Kansas, Charlotte, Talladega will be known as the Contender Round; Martinsville, Texas, Phoenix will be included in the Eliminator Round and the final race at Homestead-Miami will be the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship.

As was implemented in 2011, prior to the start of the Chase, all Chase Grid drivers will have their points adjusted to 2,000, with three additional bonus points added to their total for each win in the first 26 races. The field is now set as the following:

  1. Brad Keselowski, 2,012 (Won: Las Vegas, Kentucky, Loudon, Richmond)
  2. Jeff Gordon, 2,009 (Won: Kansas, Indianapolis, Michigan)
  3. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 2,009 (Won: Daytona, Pocono, Pocono)
Jimmie Johnson, 2,009 (Won: Charlotte, Dover, Michigan)
  5. Joey Logano, 2,009 (Won: Texas, Richmond, Bristol)
  6. Kevin Harvick, 2,006 (Won: Phoenix, Darlington)
  7. Carl Edwards, 2,006 (Won: Bristol, Sonoma)
  8. Kyle Busch, 2,003 (Won: California)
  9. Denny Hamlin, 2,003 (Won: Talladega)
  10. Kurt Busch, 2,003 (Won: Martinsville)
  11. Kasey Kahne, 2,003 (Won: Atlanta)
  12. Aric Almirola, 2,003 (Won: Daytona)
 AJ Allmendinger, 2,003 (Won: Watkins Glen)
  14. Matt Kenseth, 2,000 (Winless – entered by points, 5th)
Greg Biffle, 2,000 (Winless – entered by points, 10th)
  16. Ryan Newman, 2,000 (Winless – entered by points, 8th)

THE CHALLENGER ROUND (Chicagoland, New Hampshire, Dover)
If a driver in the Chase Grid wins a Challenger Round race, the driver automatically advances and points will be reset to 3,000.

Only the top 12 in points after the Challenger Round remain in championship contention, and all will then have their points reset to 3,000.

THE CONTENDER ROUND (Kansas, Charlotte, Talladega)
Likewise, if a driver in the top 12 in points wins a race in the Contender Round, the driver automatically advances and points will reset to 4,000.

Only the top eight in points after the Contender Round remain in championship contention, and all then will have their points reset to 4,000.

ELIMINATOR ROUND (Martinsville, Texas, Phoenix)
If a driver in the top eight in points wins a race in the Eliminator Round, the driver automatically advances and his/her points will reset to 5,000.

The top four in points after the Eliminator Round remain in championship contention, and all then will have their points reset to 5,000.

The highest finisher in the Championship race among the remaining four eligible drivers will win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title.

As drivers are eliminated from the Rounds, their points total will be readjusted to the normal points format in sync with all other drivers in the field no longer in contention for the championship.

This will allow all drivers not in contention for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship to continue to race for the best possible season-long standing, with fifth place ultimately still up for grabs at the season finale.

Bonus points for laps led or previous race wins will not apply in the season finale, so the official finishing position alone will decide the champion.


Chase Car Graphic via NASCAR Media

Chase Car Graphic via NASCAR Media

Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup-eligible cars will have the roof number, the front splitter / front fascia and the windshield header colored yellow, as well as have a Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup logo affixed to the front-quarter panel of their race car.

As part of NASCAR’s emphasis on winning races all season long, this celebratory paint scheme will be placed on a driver’s car to begin the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 14. Once a driver is eliminated after one of the Chase’s first three rounds, the paint scheme will be removed from the car.

These changes serve as a visible symbol of the new Chase format. In addition, the paint scheme elements will ensure that fans are able to easily identify each championship contender as NASCAR’s playoffs progress.

Source: NASCAR Media

NASCAR Nationwide Series to become the NASCAR XFINITY Series starting 2015


NASCAR and Comcast  announced today a historic agreement that will make Comcast’s XFINITY brand the title sponsor of what is now known as the NASCAR Nationwide Series through 2024. The 10-year term matches the longest single agreement around title sponsorship of any NASCAR national series in history, and is the longest entitlement sponsorship agreement in this series’ history.

Beginning January 1, 2015, the property will be known as the NASCAR XFINITY Series. XFINITY will become only the third title sponsor in series history following Anheuser-Busch (26 years) and Nationwide Insurance (seven years). The agreement also makes XFINITY an Official NASCAR Partner in the multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) and broadband ISP categories.

The announcement was made during an event at the NASCAR Hall of Fame – where the sport’s history is celebrated every day – and was the first series entitlement sponsorship ever announced at the venue.

XFINITY is Comcast’s residential service brand and is the nation’s largest video and high-speed Internet provider. The company has increased Internet speeds for existing customers 13 times in 12 years and recently introduced XFINITY on the X1 Entertainment Operating System. The company also offers XFINITY On Demand, the most robust video on demand platform in the world. Comcast serves business and residential customers in 39 states and Washington, D.C.

What will soon be known as the NASCAR XFINITY Series is the property where names are made and is like nothing else in major pro sports. It features the most talented young drivers regularly competing side-by-side against NASCAR’s biggest and brightest stars.

The series also has a large, highly engaged and technology-connected television audience. It races in some of the nation’s largest markets – from Chicago to Los Angeles to Miami – and at the sport’s biggest and most iconic tracks – from Daytona International Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway, to Talladega Superspeedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

According to NASCAR Fan Engagement Tracker 2013 (commissioned by NASCAR and conducted by Toluna), NASCAR fans spend an average of four-and-a-half hours each week watching NASCAR on television and an additional two-and-a-half-hours each week following the sport on digital platforms.

XFINITY is among the premier sponsors in sports today and a robust sponsorship activation program is part of the new agreement with NASCAR, with aggressive planning already underway.

Comcast’s involvement with NASCAR is expanding rapidly. In addition to the NASCAR XFINITY Series announced today, Comcast’s NBC Sports unit will begin broadcasting NASCAR race events in July 2015.

After a successful seven-year run as series entitlement sponsor, Nationwide Insurance pivoted its marketing programs to become a NASCAR team sponsor next season. Nationwide also is the official auto, home, life and business insurance partner of NASCAR.

TSM ends operations of No. 30 NCWTS team; Downsizes

Turner Scott Motorsports announced yesterday, Tuesday, September 2, that it has taken the regrettable but necessary steps to layoff 18 employees company-wide as a result of ending operations of the No. 30 NCWTS team and in order to remain competitive throughout the remainder of the 2014 season.
“The decision to lay-off any employee is painful and we realize the affects it has on their lives,” said Harry Scott, Jr., whose investment firm is a co-owner of TSM. “However, the decisions made by TSM today are necessary and the responsible steps for all of TSM to ensure our commitment to our employees, partners and fans to be as competitive as possible.”
The company notified employees this afternoon and will do all it can to help those affected to find new roles in the industry.

Fans Opportunity to Predict the Chase via PERFECT CHASE GRID™ CHALLENGE

Beginning Sunday, September 7 on, sports fans everywhere will have a chance to do just that: fill out a perfect Chase Grid – from the Challenger Round, which begins at Chicagoland Speedway, to the Championship Round at Homestead-Miami Speedway – for a chance to win $100,000.

Filling out the PERFECT CHASE GRID CHALLENGE will be easy. Once the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field is set following the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway (Saturday, Sept. 6, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC), fans will be able to log on to and make their predictions on how they think NASCAR’s brand new playoff system will transpire.



Entrants can achieve the “perfect grid” by accurately selecting each driver who will advance through the different stages of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. They will also need to accurately predict the four drivers who will compete in the Championship Round at Homestead-Miami Speedway, including who will be the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion and the finishing positions of the remaining three drivers relative to each other. will also offer a round-by-round game called CHASE GRID BATTLE. Entrants will still predict which drivers they think will advance, but one round at a time. Points will be accumulated based on the number of correct picks and the correct ranking amongst advancing drivers. Prizes will be awarded to four individual round winners, as well as the top three overall.

The Chase Grid games will be open for registration until 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 14 when the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup begins at Chicagoland Speedway (2 p.m. ET, ESPN). Both games were designed and built in conjunction with NASCAR Digital Media partner Omnigon, the New York-based digital consulting firm.

For more information and rules on the PERFECT CHASE GRID CHALLENGE and the CHASE GRID BATTLE, log on to

Visibly shaken, Tony Stewart makes personal statement at Atlanta Motor Speedway

Tony Stewart addresses media at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Photo via FoxSports.

Tony Stewart addresses media at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Photo via FoxSports.

“This is something that will definitely affect my life forever…..”

This has been one of the toughest tragedies I’ve ever had to deal with both professionally and personally. This is something that will definitely affect my life forever. This is a sadness and a pain that I hope no one ever has to experience in their life.

With that being said, I know that the pain and the mourning that Kevin Ward’s family and friends are experiencing is something that I can’t possibly imagine.
I want Kevin’s father, Kevin Sr., and his mother Pam, and his sisters Christi, Kayla, Katelyn, to know that every day I’m thinking about them and praying for them.

The racing community is a large family, as you guys know. Everyone’s saddened with this tragedy.

I want to thank all my friends and family for their support through this tough emotional time, and the support from the NASCAR community, my partners, all of our employees, it’s been overwhelming.


I’ve taken the last couple weeks off out of respect for Kevin and his family, and also to cope with the accident in my own way. It’s given me the time to think about life and how easy it is to take it for granted.

I miss my team, my teammates. I miss being back in the racecar. I think being back in the car this week with my racing family will help me get through this difficult time.

I also understand that all of you have many questions and want a lot of answers, however I need to respect the ongoing investigation process and cannot answer and address the questions at this time. Emotionally I’m not sure if I could answer them anyway.

We’re here to race this weekend, and I appreciate your respect. There will be a day when I can sit here and answer the questions.

Thank you.


Source: AP

It’s Official: Stewart to return to NASCAR at Atlanta

Tony Stewart 8/8/2014 | Photo credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Tony Stewart 8/8/2014 | Photo credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

KANNAPOLIS, N.C., (Aug. 28, 2014) – Tony Stewart has decided to return to racing this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. The Aug. 31 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the 1.54-mile oval will mark Stewart’s first start since Aug. 3 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.

Stewart sat out the past three races at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn and Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway following the tragic accident on Aug. 9 involving Kevin Ward Jr. during a sprint car feature at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park.

Stewart will be speaking to the press at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where he will be joined by Stewart-Haas Racing executive vice president Brett Frood.

Source: True Speed Communication on behalf of Stewart-Haas Racing


Statement from Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice President
And Chief Racing Development Officer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 28, 2014) – “Tony Stewart has received all necessary clearances required to return to all racing activities, and therefore is eligible to compete this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. NASCAR has remained in constant contact with his race team, and we will stay very close to this situation as Stewart returns to competition.”

NASCAR President Mike Helton will participate in a media conference at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Friday at 2 p.m. ET.

NASCAR will have no further comment until that time.

Jeff Gordon returns to where it all started: Atlanta Motor Speedway


Photo via NASCAR

Jeff Gordon heads into his 750th start this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway – the track where he had his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race.

1. First NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at 
Atlanta Motor Speedway came on November 15,
1992 – He finished 21st.

5. Number of career NASCAR Sprint Cup
 Series wins at Atlanta Motor Speedway

10. Number of seasons he has competed in the Chase for the
 NASCAR Sprint Cup (2004, ‘06, ‘07, ‘08, ‘09,
‘10, ‘11, ‘12, ‘13 and ‘14*)
. *Pending attempting to qualify for Atlanta & Richmond

23. Number of years he has competed in the
 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

27. Number of starts before his first 
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole
 Award at Charlotte Motor Speedway on
 October 10, 1993.

41. Number of starts before his first 
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career win at
 Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 29, 1994.

76. Number of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
 Coors Light Pole Awards – He is third on the
 all-time list.

91. Number of wins in the NASCAR Sprint Cup 
 100th start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup
 Series at North Wilkesboro Speedway on 
April 14, 1996 – He finished second.

100. Number of career NASCAR Sprint Cup
 Series top-10 finishes 
500th start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup
 Series at New Hampshire Motor
 Speedway on September 14, 2008 – He 
finished 14th.

429. Number of laps led in the NASCAR
 Sprint Cup Series

500. Number of laps completed in the 
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Back

Stats via NASCAR Media