Tony Stewart: Venue Change Request Reveals Interesting Fact


Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Stewart and his team of lawyers have once again made a request that would impact the pending wrongful death lawsuit that has been filed against him by the Ward family. In August Stewart’s team requested that the trial be heard in federal court as opposed to state court and that request was granted. Now Stewart’s team is requesting that the trial be held in federal court in Rochester, NY as opposed to federal court in Utica, NY.

According to a recent report by Bob Pockrass of ESPN, a hearing for the venue change is set to be heard on October 9th. The report notes that the federal court in Utica is closer to the hometown of the Ward family while the federal court in Rochester is closer to Canandaigua Motorsports Park which is where the fatal accident took place last summer.

"Stewart attorney Brian Gwitt stated in a motion filed Friday that the Rochester court is much closer — about 30 miles as opposed to more than 100 miles — to the police, detectives and coroner who worked the initial investigation into Ward’s death, as well as track personnel.Other potential witnesses, including Stewart car builder Jimmy Carr, Stewart’s expert investigator Gary Cooper and Stewart’s Sprint Cup crew chief Chad Johnston, who was at the race, would have an easier time getting to Rochester than Utica, according to the motion.The motion states that it would be about a 150-minute drive for the Ward family to get to Rochester — instead of 45 minutes to Utica — which the motion says “would not be an inconvenient distance” for them as plaintiffs."

The motion to move the case makes sense and with it comes an intriguing note that not many might have been aware of before; Chad Johnston was at the race last summer.

In the fallout of the accident and everything that came with it the fact that Johnston was present at the track seems to have been lost. Johnston being there is of interest because of the large role that he plays in Stewart’s racing life. As the crew chief of the No. 14 machine, Johnston and Stewart spend a lot of time together.

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The fact that Johnston was there is interesting, plain and simple.

It’s interesting in that it wasn’t really talked about in the months following the accident. It’s interesting in that Johnston (who has always supported Stewart) has never really said anything more than the average supporter of Stewart has said. Sure, it’s possible that Johnston didn’t see it or see enough to offer any insight. However, one would have to imagine that he was around Stewart in the aftermath of everything that transpired.

Then of course one has to wonder if Johnston’s presence at the accident has had anything to do with him still being with the No. 14 team.

It’s no secret that Johnston has come under fire numerous time in 2015 from Stewart Nation for decisions and strategies that he has made during races. That criticism combined with Stewart’s poor performance could have been a recipe for a change to be made atop of the pit box. However, Stewart has publicly supported Johnston all season long and according to numerous reports Johnston is expected to return as crew chief in 2016.

Could Johnston having been at the track that night be playing a role in what is going on now?

Of course there is also the possibility that there is absolutely nothing to see here. Johnston could simply have not spoke more in-depth about that night out of respect to Stewart and him remaining with the team could be simply because Stewart likes him. Regardless, it’s interesting that Johnston was not only present that night but that it wasn’t really a known fact until over a year later.

Next: Report: Clint Bowyer To Replace Tony Stewart At SHR In 2017