Tony Stewart awaits District Attorney’s review of Kevin Ward Jr. case

16 Comments

Later this week, a New York state district attorney’s office is expected to announce its findings in the investigation of last month’s tragedy that involved Tony Stewart and also claimed the life of young racer Kevin Ward Jr.

Stewart could be absolved of any criminal blame in the case, he could be indicted directly by the district attorney’s office, or the D.A. could forward the case to the grand jury to determine if Stewart should stand trial or not in Ward’s death.

The Ontario County (N.Y.) Sheriff’s Office announced last Thursday that it had forwarded its investigatory report of the August 9 incident at an upstate New York dirt track to the D.A.’s office.

Noted Chicago defense attorney Steven B. Borkan, who specializes in civil and constitutional law and has extensive expertise in death and catastrophic injury cases such as the Stewart/Ward case, spoke with MST at this weekend’s opening race for the Chase for the Sprint Cup about what potentially lies ahead for Stewart.

The most important thing to understand, Borkan said, is that just because the sheriff’s investigation was forward to the D.A. office, it does not mean Stewart will necessarily be indicted for any crime stemming from the Ward incident on August 9 on an upstate New York racetrack.

“That’s very typical, there’s nothing to be read into it at all,” Borkan said of the sheriff’s investigation being sent to the D.A.’s office. “This is standard operating procedure.

“In any jurisdiction across this country, the manner in which these investigations were undertaken – particularly in a death investigation such as this – the sheriff’s office or the police district will complete their investigation.

“It’s a major accident investigation, it’s not labeled anything other than that, and then it will go to the state’s attorney’s office for their review and determination of what they want to do with it.”

One misconception that fans and the media seem to have is that the case would have to go to the grand jury if Stewart is to face potential charges.

That’s not the case, Borkan noted. The D.A.’s office could bring charges against Stewart itself.

“If the district attorney made the determination that they felt there was enough to prosecute and convict, they could do what’s called a direct indictment,” Borkan said. “They do not have to go to the grand jury. You see that very often; not all cases do go to the grand jury.”

But even if the D.A.’s office chooses not to hand down a direct indictment, the case could still be sent to the grand jury to weigh whether Stewart was culpable in the accident that claimed Ward’s life.

“In this particular instance, the district attorney wants to make sure that the proverbial I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed,” Borkan said. “Therefore, you take it to the grand jury, you present the evidence to the grand jury and then the grand jury then makes a determination of whether or not an indictment should be handed down.”

Borkan wouldn’t speculate on how he thinks things will play out later this week when the D.A.’s office is expected to announce its findings in the Stewart case.

“That’s a really tough question,” Borkan said. “One of the things I’ve often said, particularly as a defense lawyer representing police officers throughout my career, is that without looking at all the facts from both sides – from the victim’s side, from the accused’s side, and certainly from that “10,000 foot view” – that’s something that it isn’t really fair to give an opinion on that.

“I think the authorities have taken on an Herculean task and have taken as much time as they need to review all of this and will continue to do that. The bottom line here is that a tragedy did occur, certainly Kevin Ward did get out of the car – we certainly saw that – but as you and I both know, that’s not unusual in this sport.”

If Stewart is indicted by either the D.A. or the grand jury, NASCAR could let him continue racing, based upon the legal precept that he’s innocent until proven guilty in a trial.

Or, NASCAR could go in the opposite direction and place Stewart on suspension until any potential trial and its outcome is resolved.

“I am a very passionate fan, I’m a Tony Stewart fan, I’m a sprint car racing fan, I’m a Sprint Cup fan,” Borkan said. “But also as an attorney who has handled matters where serious allegations have been leveled against my client, I certainly know that I want to see all the facts laid out to an impartial body literally A to Z before a determination is made.”

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

0 Comments

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.