Sheriff: Stewart investigation to last ‘at least another two weeks’

Tony Stewart returned to the track Friday but the Kevin Ward Jr. sprint car investigation continues.

Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images

A little more than an hour after Tony Stewart made his first public comments in three weeks, the Ontario County (N.Y.) Sheriff’s Office issued a press release stating the investigation into the death of Kevin Ward Jr. will "continue for at least another two weeks."

The Sheriff’s Office continues to work closely with members of the District Attorney’s Office, as the case continues to develop with the latest details.

Ontario County sheriff Philip C. Povero thanked the media outlets for "their patience and understanding as we continue to thoroughly investigate this tragic crash."

Ward Jr., 20, was killed when struck by a sprint car driven by Stewart on Aug. 9 at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in New York. The two were involved in an on-track incident in which Ward’s car spun after contact from Stewart. Ward climbed from the car to confront Stewart on the track and Stewart’s car made contact with the young driver. Autopsy results indicated Ward died of blunt-force trauma.

Friday morning at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Stewart read a written statement, his first public statement since the incident. On Aug. 10, Stewart issued a written statement offering his thoughts and prayers to the Ward family.

Stewart has not raced his No. 14 Chevrolet the past three weekends, as Regan Smith and Jeff Burton have served as replacement drivers. This weekend’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway will mark the first time Stewart has raced in the Sprint Cup Series since the fatal incident.

Also on Friday, NASCAR president Mike Helton indicated Stewart would be eligible for the 16-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup if he earns a spot over the next two races.