Sheriff: No evidence of criminal intent from Tony Stewart at this time

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In a mid-afternoon press conference, Ontario County (N.Y.) Sheriff Philip Povero said that as of now, there are “no facts in hand” to support criminal intent from Tony Stewart after he was involved in a fatal incident during a sprint car race Saturday night at New York’s Canandaigua Motorsports Park.

Povero also mentioned that the investigation was still ongoing and that multiple factors were being taken into account such as the condition of the track’s clay surface and the lighting of the Turn 2 area where the incident took place.

“There are no foregone conclusions made at this point,” Povero said of the investigation. “We’re looking for any information, any relative evidence, that will help us to come to a final determination as to why this happened.”

Stewart and Kevin Ward tangled during a 25-lap sprint car event and Ward ultimately spun out in Turn 2. Seconds after his car came to a stop, he exited it and walked down the track surface to confront Stewart as the race went under caution.

According to a press release issued last night by the Ontario County Sheriff’s Office, one car swerved to avoid Ward before Stewart’s car struck Ward and knocked him back 50 feet. Ward was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Povero has maintained that Stewart – who is not competing today in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International – is being cooperative with the investigation.

Additionally, Povero added that investigators traveled to WGI today in hopes of speaking with him or his representatives.

Stewart’s No. 14 team from Stewart Haas Racing is competing today with Nationwide Series driver Regan Smith serving as a substitute driver.

During the event, Stewart issued a statement saying that “there aren’t words to describe the sadness I feel” about Saturday’s incident and that his thoughts and prayers were with everyone affected.

Reviewing Danica Patrick’s highs and lows at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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So much of Danica Patrick’s fame can be traced to Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It’s where she became a household name 13 years ago when she became the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500 and emerged as a transcendent athlete.

It’s where everything started. This Sunday, it’s where everything will end, too.

In her last warmup before starting the final race of her career, Patrick had a bumpy final practice Friday on Carb Day. She was eighth fastest, but her Dallara-Chevrolet was in the garage most of the session because of an electrical problem in the engine. After returning during the final 10 minutes of the session, Patrick’s No. 13 seemed to be OK.

“At the end of the day, these are things you’re actually glad for, because if this had happened Sunday, we would have been done,” she said. “I’m glad to get the issues out of the way early on. Overall, today felt good. We made some changes when I went out the second time, and I’m feeling good about starting seventh on Sunday.”
Though she has had her share of success – along with a fourth in her debut, there was a third in 2009 and six top 10s in seven starts — Patrick has learned well how to handle frustration at the 2.5-mile track, too.

Fuel mileage might have kept her from winning her debut, a pit collision ruined 2008, and an unstable setup made 2010 a wild ride.

For a review of her up-and-down history at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and her legacy in racing, watch the video essay above that ran during Friday’s NASCAR America Motorsports Special on NBCSN.