It’s not easy being Tony Stewart these days. Certainly a love/hate-type of guy for race fans, Stewart has aroused the emotions of folks on the Internet due to accidentally colliding and killing Kevin Ward Jr. in Canandaigua Motorsports Park last weekend. Certainly he’s a guy with some humanity, so for now he has chosen to sit out of the upcoming NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event this weekend at Michigan International Speedway.
The Star Gazette is reporting that Jeff Burton will replace Stewart in the No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing. Meanwhile, Stewart’s future in the Sprint Cup circuit is up in the air. Stewart has already sat out one race, the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen at Watkins Glen International, after Saturday’s accident.
It is not clear what happens to Stewart’s chances for winning the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship if he sits out a few races. NASCAR rules says “a driver must either qualify the car or race the car each weekend,” and NASCAR does not grant waivers. So far this season, the three-time NASCAR champ is winless and 21st in the Cup standings; he would need a victory in one of the last four races to become eligible for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero has indicated that investigators currently do not have evidence of any criminal intent from Stewart, but the investigation is not yet over. “The investigation continues, and we are monitoring the situation,” ExxonMobil spokesman Christian Flathman added.
Said Stewart after the accident, “There aren’t words to describe the sadness I feel about the accident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr.”
Ward was laid to rest yesterday in Boonville, New York.