Stewart speaks about fatal crash, qualifies 12th for Sunday’s event
Tony Stewart took his seat on the podium — unshaven, his eyes glassy — and unfolded a sheet of paper Friday in Hampton, Ga. His voice quivered as he read, pausing to maintain his composure as he described the death of a driver he hit as “one of the toughest tragedies I’ve ever had to deal with.”
This was a far cry from the typically brash driver known in NASCAR as “Smoke.”
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Later in the day, Stewart was 12th in qualifying for Sunday’s Oral-B USA 500, a race in the Sprint Cup Series — NASCAR’s highest level — at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Describing himself as heartbroken but eager to heal, the 43-year-old Stewart has resumed pursuit of the Sprint Cup title. He missed the last three races, going into seclusion after the sprint car he was driving struck and killed 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr., who had stepped on the track to confront him during a race Aug. 9 at Canandaigua Speedway in upstate New York.
Authorities said Friday the investigation into the cause of the crash will last at least another two weeks. No decision has been made about whether Stewart will face charges.
“This is something that will definitely affect my life forever,” said Stewart, reading a statement he wrote. “This is a sadness and a pain I hope no one has to experience in their life. That being said, I know that the pain and mourning that Kevin Ward’s family and friends are experiencing is something that I can’t possibly imagine.”
In his first public appearance since the accident, Stewart mentioned Ward’s parents and three sisters by name, saying he wanted them “to know that every day I’m thinking about them and praying for them.”
Stewart took no questions about Ward’s death because of the ongoing investigation, and said he wasn’t sure if he had the emotional strength to answer them anyway.
But his timid, halting delivery presented a much different side to a racer whose infamous temper has sparked clashes with media and rival drivers.
Kevin Harvick, a teammate of Stewart at Stewart-Haas Racing, earned the pole for Sunday’s race with a speed of 190.398 mph. Brad Keselowski was second in qualifying at 190.058.
Kasey Kahne of Enumclaw qualified in 10th and Greg Biffle of Vancouver, Wash., was 18th.
Houston defeats Sporting KC
Houston was tied at 1 with defending champion Sporting Kansas City after 55 minutes of their Major League Soccer match, but the visiting Dynamo posted a 3-1 victory.
David Horst scored in the 62nd minute and Ricardo Clark closed out scoring in the 67th. Brad Davis assisted on both of those goals.
Boca Juniors hires new coach
Boca Juniors named Rodolfo Arruabarrena as its new coach, one day after the famed Argentine team fired Carlos Bianchi.
Arruabarrena, 39, was recently in charge at Uruguayan club Nacional and Argentina’s Tigre.
Bianchi, 65, was Boca’s most successful coach and was hired almost two years ago — his third stint with Boca. The end for him came after a 3-1 loss Wednesday against Estudiantes, which gave Boca a mere three points in its first four matches.
Arruabarrena played for Boca and Bianchi, and has described Bianchi and Chilean Manuel Pellegrini as his two role models.
Arruabarrena is expected on the bench Sunday against Velez Sarsfield. Boca’s demanding fans will expect quick results, often comparing their team to rival River Plate. River is second behind Velez in the standings.
• Italian cyclist Alessandro de Marchi of the Cannondale team pulled away from a small breakaway group to win an accident-filled seventh stage of the Spanish Vuelta.
Spaniard Alejandro Valverde of Movistar kept the overall lead. Teammate Nairo Quintana of Colombia is in second place, 15 seconds behind.
De Marchi, 28, covered 105 miles from Alhendin to Alcaudete in 4 hours, 1 minute, 52 seconds. He said his first stage victory in a grand tour was his best day on a bike.
• Former Villanova basketball coach Jack Kraft died Thursday in New Jersey, according to school officials. He was 93.
Kraft coached the Wildcats for 12 seasons and finished with 238 victories and a .715 winning percentage. Eleven Villanova teams coached by Kraft made the postseason, including a squad that lost 68-62 to UCLA in the 1971 NCAA championship game.
Seattle Times news services