Stewart To Sit Out Bristol
A still grieving Tony Stewart has decided not to compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Veteran driver Jeff Burton, a winner of 21 Sprint Cup races, will pilot the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing in place of Stewart for the second straight week.
Burton subbed for Stewart last weekend at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. Burton has 40 Sprint Cup starts at Bristol, which includes a victory in the 2008 Food City 500.
Regan Smith subbed for Stewart two races ago.
This driver change pertains only to Bristol. Stewart’s plans for upcoming Sprint Cup races have yet to be determined.
Stewart hasn’t raced since he was involved in an inciden on Aug. 9 t at a short track in New York in which a young sprint car driver was killed.
In that incident, the dirt track driver Kevin Ward Jr. died after being struck by Stewart’s car. Ward wrecked, got out of his car and then approached Stewart’s car, which was running under caution, when he was struck on the dark short track.
Stewart has been silent and, apparently, in seclusion since the incident.
Last Friday at Michigan International Speedway, six-time champion Jimmie Johnson was asked if he had talked to Stewart since the incident.
“I haven’t been able to get in contact with him,” Johnson said. “I’ve certainly tried. I have not heard back. I would imagine there is still a lot going on and I would assume he’s being advised to keep comments to a minimum right now with all the legal things that are pending. So, unfortunately, I haven’t spoken to him. I just feel for him and for Gene Haas, the team, the uncertainty that lies there, certainly from the Tony-standpoint; and then the Ward family. As much as I’m concerned for Tony and his well-being, the pain and sorrow that the Ward family and friends are going through.
“It’s such a sad, sad set of circumstances; certainly a hot button for different sides and different reasons and different opinions. I think once Tony is able to talk, or does talk, I think a lot of us and many people out there will feel better hearing his side of the situation. I know what I believe happened. I think it was completely an accident. So, in time we’ll see; when Tony is able to talk and how things go from there.”
Officials in Ontario County, N.Y., where the incident occurred, are still investigating the Ward’s death.No Comment