HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — There were days when NASCAR star Tony Stewart couldn’t get out of bed. It was a chore to take a shower, to leave his room. The television was on, he would stare at it, and have no idea what he was watching. He didn’t care about motor racing. He didn’t want to talk to anyone, let alone face his family, friends or other drivers. Stewart’s grief over the death of Kevin Ward Jr. was overwhelming, and he couldn’t find his way out of the fog.
Stewart spent three weeks in seclusion at his Indiana home after the car he was driving struck and killed Ward at a dirt track in upstate New York on Aug. 9. He describes those weeks as the darkest of his life. “I know 100 percent in my heart and in my mind that I did not do anything wrong. This was 100 percent an accident,” Stewart told The Associated Press on Thursday in his first interview since a grand jury decided he would not be charged in Ward’s death.
On the advice of legal counsel, Stewart would not describe what he remembers about the crash at Canandaigua Motorsports Park. Ward and Stewart were racing for position when Ward crashed, exited his vehicle and walked down the dark track in an apparent attempt to confront Stewart. A toxicology report found Ward also had marijuana in his system. Ward’s family has said “the matter is not at rest,” and Stewart may still face a civil lawsuit.
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