Two weeks since fatally hitting driver Kevin Ward Jr. during a sprint car race in New York, Tony Stewart is returning to the NASCAR Sprint Cup for the upcoming race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The three-time series champion had missed the last three races following the tragedy.
Stewart also gave a press conference at the track where he reacted publicly to the incident for the first time. "This has been one of the toughest tragedies I've ever had to deal with both professionally and personally," he said. At this time, Stewart isn't answering any questions from the media regarding the crash because the police investigation into the case is still ongoing. It's still not known whether the driver could face any criminal charges. You can watch the entire statement from him in a video, below.
The Ontario Country Sheriff that's investigating the death also released a statement that said, "the investigation into the death of Kevin A. Ward Jr., which occurred August 9, 2014, at the Canandaigua, New York Motorsports Park will continue for at least another two weeks."
According to USA Today, in the wake of the fatal accident, NASCAR passed a new rule requiring drivers to remain in their cars, unless they are in immediate danger, until safety crews arrive. Scroll down to watch Stewart's full conference and read the statement from the sheriff's department.
"Tony Stewart has received all the 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."
Philip C. Povero, Sheriff
Ontario County, New York