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WATKINS GLEN – Race car driver Tony Stewart says that “there aren’t words” to describe his sadness over the accident that killed fellow driver Kevin Ward Jr.

In a statement released by spokesman Mike Arning, Stewart says that “my thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and everyone affected by this tragedy.”

The car that the three-time NASCAR champion was driving fatally struck Ward on Saturday night as Ward walked toward it following contact between the two during their race at Canandaigua Motorsports Park.

The full text of the statement read: “There aren’t words to describe the sadness I feel about the accident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr. It’s a very emotional time for all involved, and it is the reason I’ve decided not to participate in today’s race at Watkins Glen. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and everyone affected by this tragedy.”

Ward family says that it “appreciates all the prayer and support” but that members “would like time to grieve.”

Ward’s website said he began racing go-karts in 1998 at age 4 but didn’t start driving sprint cars until 2010. Ward, 20, of Port Leyden, Lewis County, was Empire Super Sprints rookie of the year in 2012. This season was his fifth racing Empire Super Sprints.