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The Associated Press contributed to this story.
ONTARIO COUNTY, N.Y. -
The fate of NASCAR driver Tony Stewart could soon be in the hands of a jury. The jury will decide whether he'll face criminal charges for hitting and killing Kevin Ward during a race in August, despite investigators announcing last month they were not going to charge him with a crime.
Stewart and Ward were participating in a race on a dirt track at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in Canandaigua, New York. A video shows when Ward got out of his car and started waving his arms, possibly in pursuit of Stewart, who repeatedly bumped into Ward's car during the race. On another lap around the track, Stewart struck and killed Ward.
Ontario County's district attorney in New York announced Tuesday he was going to be taking evidence from the incident to a grand jury to see if the evidence supports criminal charges against Stewart.
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"I think there is a lot of pressure on people up there in that county to see that the right thing is done," said former Charlotte Motor Speedway General Manager Humpy Wheeler.
Wheeler believes Stewart's celebrity is fueling a second look since the announcement comes more than a month after the incident and after a investigation with the Ontario County Sheriff's Office.
So far, no charges have been filed and that's why Stewart continues to race. He took three weeks off after the crash before returning for the final two races of the Sprint Cup season. He's expected to race this weekend in New Hampshire. His friends believe that's the best thing for him.
"He's going through the dickens since the whole thing happened and now his fate is in the hands of a jury. That's a pretty tough deal," Wheeler said.
Stewart released this statement that reads:
"I respect the time and effort spent by both the Ontario County District Attorney and the Sheriff's Office in investigating this tragic accident. I look forward to this process being completed, and I will continue to provide my full cooperation."
We don't know when the grand jury will meet because it is confidential.
NASCAR said it will monitor what happens through the legal process, but would not comment further on this latest development.
NASCAR released a statement Tuesday afternoon regarding Tantillo's announcement:
"We are aware of the completed investigation and the announced next steps. First, our thoughts continue to be with all who have been impacted by this tragedy. We will monitor this process and stay in close contact with Stewart-Haas Racing. It would be inappropriate for NASCAR to comment on this case so we will continue to respect the process and authorities involved."