Tony Stewart says he never thought of retiring after incident with Kevin Ward Jr.

Tony Stewart reiterated the impact that the Aug. 9 incident with Kevin Ward Jr. has had on him and said Monday that he never considered retiring from driving after he struck and killed the 20-year-old.

Stewart had his first press conference since the accident on Monday. Outside of an interview with the AP last week, it was Stewart's first public question and answer session since he struck and killed Ward in a sprint car race at Canandaigua Motorsports Park.

While Stewart didn't consider giving up driving altogether, he said he's not sure if or when he'll ever drive a sprint car again.

"I've had drivers that I race with every week and drivers that I haven't raced with for months that have said 'Don't let this keep you from doing what you love,' and this is what I've done all my life," Stewart said. "This is what I've done for 36 years. I wouldn't change anything about it. I love what I do. I love driving race cars.

"But I think it might change right now as far as how much of it and what I do, but there was never a thought in my head about stopping. That would take the life out of me."

An Ontario County (N.Y.) grand jury didn't charge Stewart for his role in the incident. After Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo released the findings of the investigation into the incident, Stewart said that he knew it was "100 percent an accident" and that the night would stick with him the rest of his life.

Stewart and Ward were racing together when Ward hit the wall. He exited his vehicle and ran down the track to confront Stewart. He was hit by the right rear tire of Stewart's car and killed.

Tantillo said toxicology reports showed Ward was under the influence of marijuana and the amount was substantial enough to impair judgment. Stewart said the knowledge of those toxicology reports changed nothing about how the incident impacted him.

"Honestly, for me it didn't change anything," Stewart said. "To me, a young driver lost his life and it didn't matter why or what was going on. The end result was the same. And no matter what was said it was still a tragic accident. I know in my heart it was 100 percent an accident and that detail didn't mean anything to me personally."

Stewart also said that he had seen video from the crash. Two videos were used as evidence in the investigation. He also said that he'd be available to talk to the Ward family about the incident if they so chose, but that he doesn't need to speak with them for closure.

Ward's aunt issued an open letter Sunday that asked many questions about the incident. While the open letter or the possibility of civil action from the Ward family didn't come up at all during Stewart's 36-minute press conference, he said he'd read reaction from others about the crash and called the tendency of people to pick sides supporting a driver in the matter was "worthless."

"I tried to do my best to insulate myself from that but I finally started reading what was out there and what people were saying and you can't control that," Stewart said. "Last Wednesday the facts came out and through the weekend, the same people that had the same opinion before the facts came out still have the same opinion and no matter what side they think about, but to me it's worthless to pick sides. It's not about picking sides."

"A young man lost his life and I don't care what side you're on, it doesn't change that. His family's in mourning, I'm in mourning, my family's in mourning. Picking sides isn't solving or fixing anything. It's a waste of time to pick sides. Instead of honoring a young man who had a promising racing career, people are picking sides and it's like watching people throw darts at each other."

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!