Tony Stewart said in a court statement that he "attempted to change direction" in the sprint-car accident that resulted in the death of fellow driver Kevin Ward at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in Ontario County, New York, on Aug. 9, 2014.
NBC Sports has published excerpts from a 171-page deposition that is part of the Ward family's wrongful death lawsuit against the three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion. Stewart gave his statements in December, according to NBC Sports.
Stewart was questioned about the moments leading up to his car's striking of Ward.
- All right. And when you saw that person, did you from that point on change the direction of your vehicle based on seeing that person on the track?
- It was a split second from the time that I saw a person until I got to the person.
- OK. Is that a "no"?
- I attempted to change direction.
- OK. You don't recall — and when you say you "attempted to change direction," you attempted to change direction to the left down the track?
Stewart was not charged in the incident following the conclusions of a grand jury investigation in September 2014. He still faces the civil suit, and the next stage of that suit is a hearing scheduled for April 28 in U.S. District Court in Utica.
The deposition also included questions about alleged anger issues throughout Stewart's racing career. One incident, in particular, involved a confrontation with Kurt Busch that turned physical:
- What happened with Kurt Busch?
- We had an altercation inside the NASCAR trailer with the officials.
- Did you punch Mr. Busch or shove him?
- And who precipitated that physical confrontation, you or Mr. Busch?
- I did.
- And what was — why were you — why did you initiate a physical confrontation with Mr. Busch?
- For lack of better terms, he initiated the — basically he was antagonizing us in front of the NASCAR officials and very inappropriately.
- And, but with words?
- And you responded with physical aggression?
Stewart tried to point out in the hearing that confrontation in NASCAR is just part of the game.
"I've raced for 38 years, I've raced over 1,500 races and what you've shown is less than 1 percent of the races that I participated in NASCAR," Stewart said in the deposition. "So altercations like that happen amongst drivers every week. So this is not un — this isn't out of the ordinary for our sport." NBC Sports