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Tony Stewart

Back On The Track

1st Race Since Deadly Incident

8/28/2014 2:00 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
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Tony Stewart will get behind the wheel of his NASCAR ride again -- 3 weeks after his tragic on-track incident that killed fellow driver Kevin Ward Jr

Tony's team, Stewart-Haas Racing, just announced he will be driving his #14 car this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Stewart sat out the last 3 NASCAR Sprint Cup races.

Cops have said it could be several more weeks before they determine whether Stewart will face any criminal charges for Ward's death.

Stewart sat out races that were critical, since he's battling to make the Chase -- NASCAR's playoff season. Presumably, he's taken the time to mentally recover from the incident -- which he called a tragedy.

Since then NASCAR put a new rule in place that requires drivers to stay in their cars after an on-track collision -- barring any immediate danger -- until safety officials get to them.

NASCAR

New Rule After Tony Stewart Incident

STAY IN YOUR CAR

8/15/2014 6:13 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
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NASCAR is laying down new laws after Tony Stewart's deadly accident, and the new bottom line is simple -- after a wreck drivers should stay in their cars and stay away from other moving cars.

NASCAR VP of competition Robin Pemberton announced the rule change this morning and acknowledged it is the direct result of Stewart driving over Kevin Ward Jr. during an dirt track race last Saturday night.

The new rule is drivers who get into a wreck should not get out of the car or remove any safety equipment until safety personnel tell them to -- and once a driver is out of the car he or she should not walk around on the track or approach moving vehicles.

The only exception would be if there's fire or smoke in the car ... then, obviously, drivers should get the hell out. 

Ward and Stewart were not in a NASCAR governed race the night of the incident, but Pemberton encouraged all motor sports leagues to follow NASCAR's lead and institute similar rules of their own.

Tony Stewart Crash

Sheriff Has Seen Second Crash Video

Still No Charges

8/11/2014 2:54 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
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Ontario County Sheriff Philip C. Povero said he has now reviewed a second video from the fatal crash this weekend involving Tony Stewart ... but still does not see anything that indicates this was a criminal act.

Stewart has yet to be charged in the accident that claimed the life Saturday night of 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr. Povero said the autopsy on Ward was completed and the cause of death was massive blunt trauma. 

Povero said the Sheriff's Department is still investigating. He said they are analyzing the second camera angle to see if it shows anything different, but right now there are "no facts" so far that show there was any criminal behavior on Stewart's part.

'Purge: Anarchy' Star

Tony Stewart Is Innocent!

And Here's Why ...

8/11/2014 6:45 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE
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Don't blame Tony Stewart for the accident that killed Kevin Ward Jr. -- blame Ward ... at least that's the way the star of "Purge: Anarchy" sees it.

Frank Grillo broke down the horrific video of the Canandaigua Speedway tragedy with us Sunday night outside Madeo -- and he immediately stated, "Totally not Tony Stewart's fault!"

There's been a ton of speculation Stewart lost his temper, and cops are still investigating ... but Grillo explains why he thinks Tony did the best he could, under the circumstances.

Interesting theory.

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Tony Stewart

'Emotional' Night

Before Decision to Pull Out of Race

8/10/2014 9:25 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
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10:50 AM PT -- Tony Stewart just released a statement, saying … "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."

He added, "My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and everyone affected by this tragedy."
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Tony Stewart
is just trying to "get through today" … according to the exec from his racing team who announced Stewart was bowing out of today's NASCAR Sprint Cup Race.

Greg Zipadelli, a V.P. at Stewart-Haas Racing, was visibly emotional as he held the news conference in Watkins Glens, NY … describing Stewart's state of mind hours after he hit and killed fellow driver Kevin Ward Jr. during a race at a nearby track. 

Zipadelli talked about Stewart's decision not to race today -- the team initially said he would -- calling it, "the right thing to do."

Reporters were instructed not to ask about the investigation into Ward's death.

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Tony Stewart

Hits and Kills Another Driver

During Dirt Track Race

8/10/2014 1:41 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
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081014_tony_stewart_launchupdate_graphic_red_bar7:45 AM PT -- Stewart has pulled out of today's Sprint Cup race. His team says Regan Smith will fill-in behind the wheel of Stewart's #14 car.
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NASCAR superstar Tony Stewart drove his race car into another driver Saturday night … sending the man to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

Kevin Ward Jr. had gotten out of his #13 car after an on-track accident involving Stewart during a sprint car race (dirt track) in Canandaigua, NY. 20-year-old Ward appeared angry after the wreck and attempted to point and yell at Stewart as he drove past in his #14 car on the next lap -- but Tony ended up hitting him … sending Ward flying down the track.

Hours after the accident, cops said they were investigating Ward's death as an "on-track" incident, and not a criminal matter. But it could turn into one if the evidence warrants. 

Stewart was supposed to race Sunday in the Sprint Cup race in Watkins Glen, NY.

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Nick Young

NASCAR Became a Sport?

8/5/2014 12:45 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE
080414_nick_young_launchLakers star Nick Young just stepped on the same landmine that blew up in Donovan McNabb's face -- questioning whether NASCAR deserves to be called a sport.

Swaggy P was answering a simple enough question -- we asked him which sport is most affected by rain. Nick could have just said softball ... he was in the middle of a rain delay at a celeb game, anyway.

Instead he went and said this.

Someone get 5-time Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson on the horn ... we've got a new passenger for him.

Then again ... maybe you agree with Swaggy.

'Blackfish' Car

RACE ON AT TALLADEGA

Thanks to 'Simpsons' Creator

4/1/2014 11:30 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
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Former NASCAR driver Leilani Munter WILL be taking her "Blackfish" car to Talladega, TMZ has learned -- all thanks to an incredibly generous donation from "Simpsons" co-creator Sam Simon.

As we reported, Leilani had desperately been trying to raise money to pay for the $115,000 fee to enter the car for a big race at an ARCA event at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3rd. As of our last story, she had raised only $7,500.

But that all changed last week -- Leilani appeared on Simon's radio show to talk about her car and orca-related activism ... and Simon was so moved, Leilani tells us, he donated the balance of her entrance fee immediately after the show ... $107,500.

We're told Simon visited Taiji in February (the place where "The Cove" was shot) and has become an outspoken advocate for the humane treatment of orcas. Leilani tells us, she plans to win the race on behalf of orcas around the world suffering in captivity.

Sam -- who has terminal colon cancer -- has vowed to give away his fortune before he dies ... specifically toward animal rights and feeding the hungry.

As if giving the world "The Simpsons" wasn't enough.

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NASCAR Legend Michael Waltrip

Pumped About Meeting Donna Summer

... Who Died 2 Years Ago

3/23/2014 1:58 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
032314_michael_waltrip_launchNASCAR legend Michael Waltrip had the thrill of a lifetime today -- HE MET DONNA SUMMER ... at least, he thinks he did ... despite the fact she died two years ago.

Waltrip was doing some pre-race work for FOX at the NASCAR Auto Club 400 race today when he THOUGHT he spotted the disco queen.

He even sang some, "Last Dance" on his way over to interview the icon ... who was really just a woman who kinda sorta looked like her.

Once he got there, it got more awkward when he attempted to talk to her -- "Hi Donna how are you? Enjoy the races today, I love your music. You’ve got a great body of work that you’ve put together!”

Moments later, he told team owner Richard Childress, “If you like Donna Summer, she’s right back there.”

Of course, Summer passed away in 2012 ... the woman at the track is just a NASCAR fan named Star Walker.

But Star says she was flattered by the mistake because she's a HUGE Summer fan -- and even went to Donna's induction to the Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame!

Ya gotta watch the clip.

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NASCAR Driver

Gunning to Race 'Blackfish' Car

... At Talladega

3/14/2014 1:40 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
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ARCA could go ORCA at the Talladega Superspeedway ... because one of the drivers is trying to raise $115k to get behind the wheel of a "Blackfish" car at a race in May ... TMZ Sports has learned. 

We spoke to Leilani Munter -- one of the Top 10 female drivers in the world -- who tells us she was so moved by the documentary, she wants to do everything in her power to spread awareness about the plight of killer whales in captivity. 

"I believe that it is a crime for these magnificent, intelligent, and socially complex creatures to be forced to live in tiny concrete tanks," Leilani says. 

And her first order of business is wrapping a car in a custom "Blackfish" design to race at an ARCA event at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3rd.  The only catch -- it's expensive. 

Leilani tells TMZ Sports she needs to raise $115k for the cost of the car so she can enter the race ... which she's doing in part with the Oceanic Preservation Society, the people behind the documentary, "The Cove."

"The car represents more than just a race car," Leilani says ... "It represents awareness. I absolutely want to win."

Nationwide at Daytona Band

WE DON'T SUCK

Our Rock N' Roll National Anthem Was Awesome!

2/24/2014 4:04 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE
022414_star_spangled_banner_launchThe band that performed an unusual rock and roll version of the National Anthem at the Nationwide at Daytona race is firing back at haters -- insisting their song was super patriotic ... and not a horrible disgrace.

TMZ Sports spoke with the lead singer of Madison Rising ... who tells us the band has been getting a serious backlash from some NASCAR fans who didn't like their guitar-heavy version ... with some people calling them "disgraceful" and "disrespectful."

But Dave Bray -- who also happens to be a Navy veteran tells us ... "We know NASCAR has some of the most patriotic fans in the country, so I'm obviously disappointed that we didn't make a better impression."

"But the vast majority have come out with goose bumps, tears in their eyes and our version downloaded onto their iPods to listen to every day."

Bray adds, "The mission of Madison Rising is to help restore a sense of pride back into this country, and we are absolutely thrilled it’s having that effect.”

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Dale Earnhardt Jr.

LIQUOR BEFORE BEER

You're In the Clear!

2/24/2014 2:04 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
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Dale Earnhardt Jr. tells TMZ Sports ... he celebrated his big Daytona 500 victory by boozin' with his team 'til around 4AM -- so why isn't he a hungover mess this morning??? Simple. He followed the cardinal drinking rule.

You know how it goes ...

"Beer before liquor, never been sicker.
... Liquor before beer, you're in the clear."

Dale Jr. was out in NYC yesterday and told us he abides by the code -- usually startin' with some Jim Beam before switchin' to suds.

*Warning -- cardinal drinking rule does not always work. Booze with caution*

Richard Petty to Danica:

I ACCEPT THE CHALLENGE

... Let's Race!

2/21/2014 11:16 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news
0221-danica-richard-getty-01Gentlemen ... and ladies ... start your engines -- 'cause Richard Petty says he's ABSOLUTELY DOWN to race Danica Patrick in a 1-on-1 grudge match after trading shots in the media.

Of course, this whole thing started when Petty criticized Danica's crappy record -- and D.P.'s friend/team owner Tony Stewart said Petty and Patrick should settle their beef on the track.

Well, today ... Petty went on "Fox and Friends" and said HE ACCEPTS.

”Yeah you know, I’m 76 years old ... and it’s been 25 years since I’ve been in a racecar, but I’ll take that challenge.”

He then asked, "When's this gonna happen?"

Good question -- ball seems to be in Danica's court now.

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