After driver's death, Tony Stewart's return to NASCAR cut shortBy Holly Yan and Joseph Miller, CNNUpdated 9:17 AM ET, Tue September 2, 2014Racer Tony Stewart 13 photosRacer Tony Stewart – Driver Tony Stewart looks on in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International on Friday, August 8, in Watkins Glen, New York. Stewart is a three-time champion in NASCAR's top division and also won a sprint car championship in 1995.Hide Caption 1 of 13Racer Tony Stewart 13 photosRacer Tony Stewart – Stewart signs autographs for fans during a practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 11 in Loudon, New Hampshire.Hide Caption 2 of 13Racer Tony Stewart 13 photosRacer Tony Stewart – Stewart gets out of his car after an incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 6 in Daytona Beach, Florida. Hide Caption 3 of 13Racer Tony Stewart 13 photosRacer Tony Stewart – Danica Patrick and Stewart ride down pit road before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 15 in Brooklyn, Michigan. Hide Caption 4 of 13Racer Tony Stewart 13 photosRacer Tony Stewart – Stewart poses with a rifle given as a pole award after qualifying for pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 5 in Fort Worth, Texas.Hide Caption 5 of 13Racer Tony Stewart 13 photosRacer Tony Stewart – Stewart in the pit during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 23 in Daytona Beach, FloridaHide Caption 6 of 13Racer Tony Stewart 13 photosRacer Tony Stewart – Driver Ryan Newman talks with team owner and injured driver Tony Stewart, on crutches, in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on September 28, 2013, in Dover, Delaware. Stewart broke his leg on August 5, 2013, during a race at the Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa, Iowa.Hide Caption 7 of 13Racer Tony Stewart 13 photosRacer Tony Stewart – Personnel prepare to load Stewart into an ambulance after he was involved in a four-car wreck at Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Stewart underwent successful surgery Tuesday, August 6, 2013, to repair the broken right tibia and fibula suffered in the wreck.Hide Caption 8 of 13Racer Tony Stewart 13 photosRacer Tony Stewart – Stewart shakes hands with Gunnery Sgt. Samuel Deeds at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 28. As winner of the annual Crown Royal "Your Hero's Name Here" program, Deeds received naming rights to the July 28 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the Brickyard.Hide Caption 9 of 13Racer Tony Stewart 13 photosRacer Tony Stewart – Stewart sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12, 2013, in Loudon, New Hampshire. Hide Caption 10 of 13Racer Tony Stewart 13 photosRacer Tony Stewart – Stewart celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400 at Dover International Speedway on June 2, 2013, in Dover, Delaware. Hide Caption 11 of 13Racer Tony Stewart 13 photosRacer Tony Stewart – Stewart, in car 14, spins out along with Jimmie Johnson, in car 48, after an on-track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 27, 2013, in Richmond, Virginia. Hide Caption 12 of 13Racer Tony Stewart 13 photosRacer Tony Stewart – Stewart poses in the victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway on February 23, 2013, in Daytona Beach, Florida. Hide Caption 13 of 13Story highlightsStewart's front right tire blows at a NASCAR race in Atlanta It was his first race since his car struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr. on August 9"This has been one of the toughest tragedies I've ever had to deal with," Stewart saidKasey Kahne won the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on SundayWhat started as a deeply emotional race for Tony Stewart ended prematurely when a blown tire cut short his return to NASCAR. Stewart came back to competition Sunday for the first time since his car struck and killed another driver on August 9. The crowd at the Oral-B USA 500 erupted in cheers as Stewart was introduced. But after just 172 of 325 laps at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, his front right tire blew, and Stewart's car smacked the wall on Turn 2. In the end, Kasey Kahne won the race and clinched a spot in the "Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup" playoff. Matt Kenseth came in second, and Denny Hamlin finished third. Just WatchedRacers react to Tony Stewart's returnreplayMore Videos ...Racers react to Tony Stewart's return 01:06PLAY VIDEOJust WatchedNASCAR's Tony Stewart hits, kills driverreplayMore Videos ...NASCAR's Tony Stewart hits, kills driver 01:38PLAY VIDEOJust WatchedWhy was Tony Stewart allowed to race? replayMore Videos ...Why was Tony Stewart allowed to race? 03:05PLAY VIDEOBut many thoughts were with Stewart and Kevin Ward Jr., the 20-year-old driver who was killed at the Canandaigua Motorsports Park in New York.Stewart declined to speak to a reporter after Sunday's race. But he spoke to the media briefly Friday about Ward's death. "This has been one of the toughest tragedies I've ever had to deal with, both professionally and personally," Stewart said. "And this is something that will definitely affect my life forever." Ward's deathSpectator video from the night of Ward's death shows two cars coming out of a turn, with Stewart's No. 14 car sliding up the track toward Ward's No. 13 car. The two cars get close and appear to make contact before Ward's car hits the wall and spins out.Ward gets out of his crashed car and walks on the track toward the race cars, which had slowed for a yellow flag. Ward points a finger and appears to be yelling. One car swerves to avoid Ward on the half-mile dirt track.Stewart's car passes close to Ward, and it appears that its right rear tire hits him. Authorities said Ward died of "massive blunt trauma."Stewart withdrew from the NASCAR race in New York's Watkins Glen the day after Ward died. He also missed races in Michigan and Tennessee.Under investigationNew York authorities have been investigating the fatal crash. Ontario County Sheriff Philip C. Povero has said there was no evidence that a crime had been committed.Ward, from Port Leyden, New York, was in his fifth season in the Empire Super Sprints series. He began racing when he was 4, running go-kart events. When he was 12, he moved to the faster sprint cars. His father blames Stewart for hitting his son."Apparently, Tony Stewart was the only one driving out there who didn't see him," the father said, according to Syracuse.com.Stewart said that he wants Ward's parents and sisters "to know that every day I'm thinking about them and praying for them."While the incident hit him hard, Stewart said he knows "that the pain and the mourning that Kevin Ward's family and friends are experiencing is something that I can't possibly imagine."Tony StewartNASCAR's Tony Stewart hits, kills driverAlthough NASCAR driver Tony Stewart is not currently facing criminal charges in the death of another driver, he is not officially in the clear.Racer died of 'massive blunt trauma'Kevin Ward Jr. died of "massive blunt trauma" when Tony Stewart hit him with his sprint car.Kevin Ward Jr. started young, loved to raceAs soon as he could, Kevin Ward Jr. got in a race car. As soon as he could, Kevin Ward Jr. started winning races.Racing death prompts new safety rulesAfter the death of Kevin Ward Jr., NASCAR has made a new rule against drivers exiting vehicles. Alexandra Field reports.Tony Stewart: Raising smoke with a hard driving lifeTony Stewart's profession is driving for millions of dollars a year in NASCAR races, but his hobby is racing against amateurs on dirt tracks for trophies.Emotional, aggressive, deadly racingEmotions play a big part in racing. The fans expect it. They want that emotion-fueled, adrenaline pumping, heart-stopping, side-by-side action.Racer: People want to see wrecksTwo dirt-track racers explain the appeal of the sport and give their opinions on the fatal wreck involving Tony Stewart.Why Tony Stewart isn't likely to face chargesEven hardened race fans, accustomed to witnessing spectacular crashes, were stunned to see the shattered body of 20-year-old race car driver Kevin Ward Jr. sprawled on a New York dirt track. Racer Tony StewartA look at recent highlights from racer Tony Stewart's career. Life on the Dirt TrackAndy Scholes speaks with 25-year dirt track racing veteran, Danny Smith, to learn more about the popular sport.Why was Tony Stewart allowed to race? With his history of violent incidents, why was NASCAR's Tony Stewart even allowed to race? CNN's Rachel Nichols reports.More from usStorm's a comin': Here's what you need to know about the blizzard of 2015'Historic' storm set to slam Northeast; airlines cancel flightsWhy does ISIS want Sajida al-Rishawi?