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Tony Stewart speaks out about accident

ATLANTA, Ga. -- NASCAR driver Tony Stewart will get back behind the wheel at Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday night. 

Stewart is also speaking out about the incident three weeks ago, when he struck and killed fellow driver, Kevin Ward. Jr.

An emotional Stewart showed remorse in his first public comments since this Aug. 9th accident, when his car struck and killed Ward, 20, during a dirt track race.

"This has been one of the toughest tragedies I've ever had to deal with, both professionally and personally," Stewart said during a Friday new conference. "This is something that will definitely affect my life forever. This is a sadness and a pain that I hope no one has to ever experience in their life."

Stewart, a three-time NASCAR champion,has spent the time since the incident in seclusion.

No charges have been filed against him but New York authorities say the investigation will continue for at least another two weeks.

NASCAR says Stewart has received all the necessary clearances to return to racing.

"I've taken the last couple of weeks off out of respect for Kevin and his family and also to cope with the accident my own way," Stewart said. "I want kevin's father, Kevin Sr., his mother, Pam, and his sisters, Christy, Kala and Katlin, to know that every day I'm thinking about them and praying for them.

Since ward's death, NASCAR has implemented a new rule requiring all drivers to remain in their cars following an accident until safety crews arrive, unless they are in immediate danger.

Stewart says his return to the track is part of his healing process.

"I miss being back in the race car and I think being back in the car this week with my racing family will help me get through this difficult time," he said. "I'm here to race this weekend and I appreciate your respect and there will be a day when I can sit here and answer the questions."

Stewart has two races remaining to try and qualify for NASCAR's version of the playoffs.