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Tony Stewart appeals insurance ruling in Kevin Ward Jr. case

Tony Stewart will appeal a ruling by a U.S. District Court judge who determined Axis Insurance Company does not have to cover legal costs and claims by the family of Kevin Ward Jr. against the three-time Cup Series champion.

Judge David Hurd had ruled July 29 that Stewart's policy did not cover Empire Super Sprints events, the series Stewart was competing in when Ward died in August 2014 at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park.

Stewart's legal team filed a notice of appeal Friday to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Stewart's car struck and killed the 20-year-old Ward after Ward exited his vehicle and approached Stewart's car. Ward's parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Stewart, who was not charged and claims Ward -- who had used marijuana within five hours of the race, according to toxicology reports cited by Stewart -- attempted to make contact with Stewart's car before getting hit.

Whether insurance covers Stewart could impact how the Ward case goes forward, whether it puts it solely in Stewart's hands on how much he would want to spend on a legal defense and any potential settlements.

Tony Stewart Racing, which operates Stewart's sprint-car fleet, had policies with Axis Insurance Company that had $4 million in coverage, and a provision listed the events covered -- 65 World of Outlaws events, 30 USAC sprint-car events and 10 USAC Silver Crown events.

Stewart had argued that the specific series listing was the result of underwriting confusion, and the policy covered TSR drivers competing in other events.