Report: Grand jury now hearing testimony in Tony Stewart/Kevin Ward Jr. case

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The next phase of the Tony Stewart/Kevin Ward Jr. saga has begun.

Rochester, New York’s Democrat and Chronicle is now reporting that Ontario County (N.Y.) District Attorney Michael Tantillo has convened a grand jury to determine whether the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion will face charges for his role in an Aug. 9 sprint car accident that left the 20-year-old Ward dead.

This development comes one week after Tantillo announced that he would forward evidence from the crash investigation to a grand jury, saying that such a decision was “appropriate” following a full review of said investigation.

Shortly after Tantillo’s announcement on Sept. 16, Stewart pledged his continued cooperation in a statement.

The D&C’s Kevin Oklobzija also reports that Chuck Hebing, who competed in the Aug. 9 race at Canadaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park where Ward lost his life, has confirmed that he’s been called in to testify before the grand jury. However, Hebing declined further comment on the subject.

On Aug. 9, Ward climbed out of his car and walked down the racing surface to apparently confront Stewart following an on-track incident between the two when he struck by Stewart’s car. Ward was later pronounced dead on arrival at a local hospital.

Per New York state laws regarding grand juries, 12 of the 23 jurors must recommend charges before a prosecutor can go about obtaining an indictment.

A New York grand jury can either vote to bring an indictment, vote to dismiss charges, or direct the prosecutor to file information accusing the person of a crime less serious than a felony. It is unknown how long it will take to present the evidence or for witnesses to testify.

While the case has progressed, Stewart has resumed Sprint Cup competition following a three-race absence from the circuit in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy.

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

Petit Le Mans championship
IMSA
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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in the final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a victory over Pipo Derani in the the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

With the rebranding of DPi to GTP for the new LMDh cars, Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”