Report: Kevin Ward Jr. smoked marijuana within hours of last race


Kevin Ward Jr., who was killed after being struck by Tony Stewart during a sprint car race a year ago, had smoked marijuana “probably within a couple of hours of the race but at the outside within five hours of the race,” according to a story by Leo Roth in Sunday’s (Rochester, N.Y.) Democrat & Chronicle.

The Democrat & Chronicle story, which looks back on the Aug. 9, 2014, incident at Canandaigua Motorsports Park, marks the first time it has been reported how soon before the race Ward was believed to have smoked marijuana.

Michael Tantillo, district attorney for Ontario County, revealed in the story when he was informed by the chief toxicologist about marijuana in Ward’s system.

“He said, ‘We made some findings here that are very dramatic and we know they will be significant because of the high profile of this case, so we re-checked them and re-re-checked them with multiple chemists and these are valid,’ ” Tantillo told the Democrat & Chronicle. “The metabolites of the marijuana that were found in his system indicated that he had been smoking marijuana probably within a couple hours of the race but at the outside within five hours of the race. It was a significant factor, no question about it.”

Tantillo also said that police experts, along with a prominent accident reconstructionist hired by Stewart’s legal team, analyzed video of the accident in detail with enhanced images slowed to 75, 50 and 25 percent.

“It made it very clear that Tony Stewart was driving on a straight path until he collided with Kevin Ward and then he veered to the right, up the track as a result of the collision,” Tantillo said. “When you look at it you may say, ‘Oh, it looks like he swerved.’ But in reality that was not substantiated by the lab work.”

The story reports that the defense reconstruction team determined a time of 1.3 seconds between when the car ahead of Stewart passed Ward and when Ward was struck by Stewart’s car. The story reports that a N.Y. State Police investigation revealed a similar timeframe.

“They were off in their calculations by a couple hundredths of a second, but both arrived at the same conclusion that Tony Stewart, from the moment he could have been able to see Kevin Ward, he had about 1 second to react,” Tantillo told the Democrat & Chronicle. “The grand jury felt that’s not sufficient to attach criminal liability to.”

An Ontario County (N.Y.) grand jury ruled Sept. 24 that Stewart would not face criminal charges. After that ruling, Tantillo said that the toxicology report revealed that Ward “was under the influence of marijuana”

Friday, attorneys for Ward’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Tony Stewart. Ward’s parents issued a statement Friday saying: “Our son was truly the light of our lives and we miss him terribly every day. Our hope is that this lawsuit will hold Tony Stewart responsible for killing our son and show him there are real consequences when someone recklessly takes another person’s life.”

The Democrat & Chronicle story notes that Tantillo did not feel there was grounds to charge Stewart with a crime, but that the matter deserved a grand jury’s investigatory powers.

“We put everything else we were working on on the shelf,” Tantillo told the Democrat & Chronicle. “It was an important case and it deserved it.”

Daytona road course trophy: Handle with care

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A word of warning for the Cup Series driver who wins Sunday’s inaugural race on the Daytona road course (3 p.m. ET on NBC).

When you’re celebrating the victory, don’t get too excited with the trophy.

It could wind up all over Victory Lane.

That’s because the trophy waiting at the end of the 65-lap/234.65-mile-race is made out of glass.

More: Will chaos (and rain) reign on the Daytona road course?


The 18” tall/4.5” wide trophy for the Daytona road course race was produced by the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York. It’s the same institution that’s been responsible for designing the Watkins Glen International trophy since 2012.

Sunday’s race is being held in the place of the Cup Series’ annual visit to Watkins Glen.

Incorporating a blown glass cup, the trophy is inspired by the history of NASCAR and racing at Daytona.

“Thinking about the history of the track and long-held traditions, I was reminded that historically, trophies used to be cups and have evolved into sculptural forms,” said Eric Meek, Sr. Manager of Hot Glass Programs at The Corning Museum of Glass, said in a media release. “We took this trophy back to a more traditional shape. Daytona is the most historical track, and in thinking about a trophy design for a race held in this storied location, I was transported back to the golden age of speed. I wanted to design something that felt like a bit of a throwback – like it belonged in the era of streamline racers and the quest to go faster.”

NASCAR Pinty’s Series 2020 TV schedule released

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The NASCAR Pinty’s Series, which competes in Canada, will get its season under way this weekend after it was postponed back in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The shortened season will consist of three doubleheaders with twin 125-mile races.

The races will be held at Sunset Speedway (Aug. 15), Flamboro Speedway (Aug. 29) and Jukasa Speedway (Sept. 12).

More: Xfinity Series start time for Daytona road course

No NASCAR Pinty’s Series champion or Rookie of the Year will be crowned in 2020 due to the shortened schedule. There will be special recognition for the overall winner of the shortened season.

All races will air delayed on TSN and RDS in Canada and MAVTV in the United States. Fans in the United States can stream races after they air on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.

Here is the full schedule with TV information.


Saturday’s Xfinity race at Daytona road course: Start time, forecast and more

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Saturday’s Xfinity race at Daytona will mark the first time the series has competed in the track’s road course circuit.

Austin Cindric, who has won four of the last five races, is on the pole. He is joined on the front row by fellow Ford driver Chase Briscoe.

Here are the details for the Xfinity race at the Daytona road course (all times ET):

START: The command to start engines will be given at 3:07 p.m by Dr. Jeff Jarvis, president of UNOH. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:19 p.m.

PRERACE: Garage access health screening begins at 8:30 a.m. Drivers report to their cars at 2:50 p.m. The invocation will be given at 3 p.m. by Chaplain Farzad Nourian. The national anthem will be performed at 3:01 p.m. by Temecula Road.

DISTANCE: The race is 52 laps (187.72 miles) around the 3.61-mile road course

PACE LAP: At the direction of race control, the entire field will go down pit road during a pace lap for pit road speed verification. If a driver stops in the pit box for any reason, pulls over or slows down, they will start at the rear of the field.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 15. Stage 2 ends on Lap 30.

TV/RADIO: NBCSN will televise the race. Its coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. with Countdown to Green followed by the race broadcast at 3 p.m. ET. Motor Racing Network’s radio broadcast will begin at 2:30 p.m. and also can be heard at SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry MRN’s broadcast.

STREAMING: Watch the race on the NBC Sports App by clicking here.

FORECAST: The forecast calls for cloudy skies, a high of 88 degrees and a 70% chance of rain and thunderstorms at the start of the race.

LAST RACE: Austin Cindric beat AJ Allmendinger and Chase Briscoe to win at Road America.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for Xfinity starting lineup

Justin Marks planning to start new Cup team

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Former NASCAR driver Justin Marks is in the process of starting a new Cup Series team and competing as early as 2021, Marks detailed to the Sports Business Journal.

Marks, who has 80 NASCAR starts and last competed in 2018, is building a team called Trackhouse that would have a “cause-marketing focus around promoting STEM education” according to SBJ.

More: Bubba Wallace lands multi-year deal with DoorDash

Marks, who once was a co-owner of an ARCA Menards West team with the late Harry Scott, said a goal of the team is to “serve America’s minorities and underrepresented youth population”

Marks told SBJ he is in negotiations to acquire a charter for the team, that his family foundation will use investment capital to fund 50% of the team’s budget and that a “nationwide family entertainment business” will be a sponsor.

One of Marks’ partners will be Ty Norris, a former executive at Michael Waltrip Racing.

Click here for more from Sports Business Journal.