NASCAR: Stewart to skip this weekend's Sprint Cup race
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Tony Stewart will not race Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, skipping a second straight NASCAR Sprint Cup race since striking and killing a driver in a dirt-track race at a small New York track.
Stewart announced the decision in a statement Thursday. His plans for the rest of the season have not been determined. Jeff Burton will drive Stewart’s No. 14 Chevrolet in Michigan.
Stewart also sat out Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen, a day after he struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr. during a sprint car event in Canandaigua, N.Y. After Stewart clipped Ward’s car, sending it spinning, Ward got out of the car during the caution period, walked down the track and was hit by Stewart.
Ward’s funeral was Thursday in Boonville, N.Y.
Stewart’s dirt-racing career is on hold, and he could face criminal charges.
Stewart has not commented since he made a statement Sunday.
The three-time NASCAR champion is winless and 21st in the Cup standings this season. He would have needed a victory in one of the final four races to have a chance to become eligible for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
It’s not clear what sitting out does for Stewart’s Chase chances. NASCAR rules say a driver must either qualify the car or race the car each weekend. NASCAR does have the power to grant a waiver.
Stewart has 48 career Cup wins in 542 starts.
Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero said that investigators don’t have any evidence at this point to support criminal intent, but the investigation is not complete.
Regan Smith started for Stewart at Watkins Glen and finished 37th.
Burton made only two starts this season, the last coming in July at New Hampshire. The 21-time Sprint Cup winner parted ways with Richard Childress Racing at the end of the season, and Ryan Newman replaced him at RCR. Burton works as an analyst for NBC.