Stewart pulls out of weekend dirt track race

Updated: August 11, 2014, 12:04 PM ET

ESPN.com news services

Tony Stewart, who didn’t compete in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race after he struck and killed sprint car driver Kevin Ward Jr. during a race the night before, also pulled out of an upcoming dirt track race in Plymouth, Indiana.

Plymouth Speedway announced the news that Stewart would not race Saturday in a statement released Monday.

“We at Plymouth Speedway extend our deepest condolences and prayers to the family of Kevin Ward Jr. and thoughts and prayers to Tony Stewart and his family. Tony Stewart will not be racing at Plymouth Speedway this Saturday. More information on the weekend’s racing will be announced this week,” the track said in the statement.

Ward was struck Saturday after he had climbed from his car and was on the track trying to confront Stewart during a race in upstate New York.

Stewart, who was unhurt in the accident, released a statement Sunday afternoon.

“There aren’t words to describe the sadness I feel about the accident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr. It’s a very emotional time for all involved, and it is the reason I’ve decided not to participate in today’s race at Watkins Glen. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and everyone affected by this tragedy,” it said.

A video of the crash at Canandaigua Motorsports Park showed Ward, wearing a black helmet and firesuit on a dimly lit track, walking toward Stewart’s car before being hit and hurtled 50 feet. Sheriff Philip Povero said the 25-lap race was under caution when Ward was struck. Stewart’s car was behind another before he hit Ward.

Ward, 20, was pronounced dead Saturday night at a hospital in Canandaigua.

Stewart is not currently under criminal investigation.

The accident came just four days after the one-year anniversary of an accident in a Sprint Car race in Iowa in which Stewart suffered a compound fracture to his right leg. The injury cost him the second half of the NASCAR season.

The track, about 30 miles southeast of Rochester, canceled the remainder of Saturday’s race within five minutes and later posted a message on its Facebook page encouraging fans to “pray for the entire racing community of fans, drivers, and families.”

Stewart was involved in a July 2013 accident at Canandaigua that seriously injured a 19-year-old driver. He later took responsibility for his car making contact with another and triggering the 15-car accident that left Alysha Ruggles with a compression fracture in her back.

Stewart returned to sprint track racing only last month. He didn’t return to racing in any form until February, when preparation for NASCAR’s season-opening Daytona 500 began.

He refused to stop his extracurricular racing despite the injury. The multimillionaire is known to participate in races with purses worth less than $ 3,000 and drive alongside drivers of varying ages and talent levels.

Stewart was a spectator at the Knoxville Nationals in Iowa on Tuesday, the one-year anniversary of the accident, and posted on his Twitter account: “Thank you to everyone that worked so hard to get me back to where I’m at today. It’s your life, live it!”

Information from ESPN.com’s Brant James and The Associated Press is included in this report.

ESPN.com

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