Friend to drive car of the late Kevin Ward Jr.
OHSWEKEN, Ontario (AP) The No. 13 car belonging to the young sprint car driver who was struck and killed by three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart last month will be in the lineup at this weekend's Canadian Sprint Car Nationals.
Kevin Ward Jr.'s car will be driven by his best friend, Dylan Swiernik, in its return to racing at Ohsweken Speedway.
The Ontario track is where Ward completed his final race, finishing second on Aug. 8, the night before he died, race director Doug Leonard said Friday.
Swiernik, who is from Ward's hometown of Port Leyden, New York, delivered a moving tribute at Ward's funeral, describing himself and his friend as ''two small-town boys trying to make it in the big world.''
About 20 of Ward's relatives were expected to attend the nationals Saturday, as well as a Friday night tribute event - the Kevin Ward Jr. Young Stars Challenge. The 13-lap race involving the youngest 13 drivers who sign in will be an annual event, with a plaque listing the winners to be housed at the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Iowa, organizers said.
Ward, 20, died after being struck by Stewart's car at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in upstate New York during a nighttime race Aug. 9. Ward had climbed out of his car and walked onto the dirt track to confront Stewart after he spun out while the two raced side by side.
County prosecutors are expected to announce late next week whether they will pursue criminal charges against Stewart. Sheriff's officials said Thursday they had completed their investigation. The findings were not released.
Ward grew up in a racing family and started racing go-carts at age 4. He moved on to sprint cars and was Empire Super Sprint racing rookie of the year in 2012. He was one of a small, tight group of drivers that traveled to races around New York state and parts of Canada and Pennsylvania.