Tony Stewart to return to NASCAR for first time since Kevin Ward Jr.'s death

By Daniel S Levine,

After staying out of racing for three weeks following the death of Kevin Ward Jr., NASCAR driver Tony Stewart announced Thursday afternoon that he will return to the Sprint Cup competition on Sunday.

Stewart has decided to take part in the Oral-B USA 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.

This will be the first time he will participate in any race since Aug. 9, when Ward, 20, died following a crash at an upstate New York dirt track. Ward walked out of his car and appeared to walk towards Stewart’s car to confront him. At that point, Stewart’s car struck Ward.

Since that day, as police have continued their investigation , Stewart has remained quiet, only issuing a statement that expressed condolences to Ward’s family. He then pulled out of Watkins Glen and the following week’s race at Michigan International Speedway.

According to Fox Sports, the Ontario County, New York coroner ruled that Ward died of blunt force trauma. The police are still investigating the incident and had no further updates today. However, the Sheriff’s department did say two days after the incident that, “There are no facts that exist that support any criminal behavior.”

As a result of the incident, NASCAR enacted a new rule to stop drivers from leaving their cars after an on-track incident.

image courtesy of R. O'Neil/INFphoto.com

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