Tony Stewart expected to learn fate from grand jury this afternoon in Kevin Ward Jr. accident

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A rendered decision by a grand jury probing the Tony Stewart-Kevin Ward Jr. accident is expected to be announced this afternoon.

Ontario County (N.Y.) District Attorney Michael Tantillo announced that a press release will be issued at 3 pm ET, followed shortly thereafter by a press conference.

The grand jury can either find there is enough evidence to indict Stewart on criminal charges, or it could find that there is not enough evidence and Stewart will not be indicted.

The grand jury was presented the evidence in the incident on Tuesday.

Stewart’s sprint car struck and killed Ward during a caution period in a short track race on Aug. 9 at Canandaigua Motorsports Park, located about an hour north of Watkins Glen International raceway.

Shortly after hitting the wall with his racecar, Ward exited the car and was coming down the racetrack in an apparent attempt to confront Stewart. The area where the incident occurred is dimly lit and Ward, of nearby Port Leyden, N.Y., was wearing an all-black firesuit.

As Ward approached Stewart’s car, Stewart appeared to take evasive action but the right rear tire of his sprint car struck Ward, 20, who was pronounced dead approximately 45 minutes later at a local hospital. Cause of death was ruled blunt force trauma.

That the grand jury has apparently come to a determination just one day after being convened and began its review of the evidence is somewhat surprisingly quick.

Investigators for Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero completed their month-long investigation on Sept. 11 and turned over their findings to Tantillo.

Five days after his office reviewed the sheriff’s investigation, Tantillo said he would be turning over all evidence – including two videos that were enhanced by the New York State Police crime laboratory – to a grand jury for final determination on whether Stewart should be indicted on criminal charges or not.

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Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”