Keselowski: Sending Stewart-Ward Jr. case to grand jury ‘a cop-out’
The saga surrounding the death of 20-year-old sprint car driver Kevin Ward Jr. took another step toward completion this week when the Ontario County (N.Y.) District Attorney’s Office announced it would present evidence to a grand jury.
That move put the legal fate of three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart — whose sprint car struck and killed Ward on Aug. 9 at Canandaigua (N.Y) Motorsports Park — into the hands of a grand jury.
While Stewart has pledged continued cooperation in all of the proceedings, he is behind the wheel of his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
One of the most talked-about subjects in the NASCAR garage, the situation surrounding Stewart was broached to more than one driver during Friday’s media availabilities in the NHMS media center.
Never one to shy away from giving his opinion, 2012 Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski said that the case being sent to a grand jury "feels a little bit like a cop-out."
"The only concern I have is that it sounds like there’s a second tape that they haven’t released — and I don’t understand why," Keselowski said, referring to another video the Ontario County Sheriff’s Department mentioned in a statement last week. "Beyond that, it kind of feels a little bit like a cop-out that they send it to the grand jury, but I think everybody is wishing Tony the best and supporting him, and that’s probably the most important thing."
One of the sport’s leading figures, six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson has not followed the case as closely as others.
"Has there been a statement or anything recently from Tony’s side? I think I saw something last week, so I’m waiting as well," Johnson said. "I think the statement that he made helped me understand things and feel better about things then. The fact that I guess in the state, or whatever went on with the police department and saying there was no criminal issue there that was another step in the direction, I think, where things are heading. But I’m waiting. And I think the whole industry and the world is waiting to see when Tony is able to sit at a mic and talk. So I’m like all of you; I’m just waiting."
The wait will continue until the grand jury makes a decision in New York. According to the news release sent out by the District Attorney’s Office earlier this week, due to New York state law, neither the date of the trial nor the identity of witnesses will be discussed until after the proceedings.
After the D.A.’s announcement on Tuesday, Stewart offered his full cooperation.
"I respect the time and effort spent by both the Ontario County District Attorney and the Sheriff’s Office in investigating this tragic accident," Stewart said in a statement. "I look forward to this process being completed, and I will continue to provide my full cooperation."
Stewart sat out three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races after the Aug. 9 incident, but returned at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Labor Day weekend.
Prior to climbing back behind the wheel, Stewart addressed the media for the first time since the tragic incident.
"This is a sadness and a pain that I hope no one ever has to experience in their life," said Stewart, reading from a written statement he prepared. "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."
VIDEO: Latest Tony Stewart investigation update