No criminal charges will be filed at this time in the deadly crash involving Hoosier NASCAR star Tony Stewart, officials announced Monday.
Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero announced there was no evidence of criminal activity in the death of 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr., but the case was not closed yet.
"As we speak at this time, there are no facts that exist that support any criminal behavior conduct or any probable cause of a criminal act in this investigation. Again, I repeat that this is an open investigation, what I have just said is not indicative that the investigation is over or conclusions have been made, but it is open and we are continuing to gather all information," Povero said.
Autopsy results released Monday showed that Ward died of massive blunt force trauma.
Authorities questioned Stewart on Saturday night and went to Watkins Glen to talk to him again Sunday. Povero said Monday there were no plans "at this time" to talk to him again.
There is no timetable to complete the investigation.
Ward was killed after he was struck by Stewart’s car at a dirt track in upstate New York over the weekend.
Ward went into the wall after being hit by Stewart, then apparently tried to confront Stewart for bumping him and charged at Stewart’s car as he drove by under a yellow flag.
Stewart did not race in Sunday’s NASCAR event at Watkins Glen and dropped out of a race Saturday night in Plymouth in northwest Indiana.
The track issued a statement 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."
Officials with the United States Auto Club in Speedway were trying to learn from the crash. They said incidents like that do not occur when racing rules are followed.
USAC President Kevin Miller called the crash a freak occasion involving a high-profile name.
"It just reinforces the policies, the rules we have in place you know, stay with the car until the safety crews arrive. It's so critical. One that I'm sure will be refreshed at races around the country this week," Miller said.
Miller would not speculate on Stewart's intentions, but did say Sprint car designs make for a small field of vision.
"The field of vision is very very narrow and you add a wing on top of it, it even reduces it further. Most people may not realize that you don't turn your head. You have a head restraint on," Miller said.
Stewart's racing friends also voiced their support for him after the incident.
"The visibility of a winged Sprint car is about a third of these things are. Because you have the wing on the top, the wing in the front and you've got the big mesh over the front of it to stop the clods. So in a dark situation, you've got a guy in dark clothing... not sure that Tony ever saw him," Don Kenyon of 3K Racing said.
Miller said they will learn from the crash and will work with drivers and officials to make sure safety is the top priority.
"We have to be the kind of sanctioning body that reminds our drivers that this sport is dangerous and here are these examples, we have to point to ensure the longevity and safety in our sport," Miller said.
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