Overwhelmed with grief and emotion, Tony Stewart is not ready to get back behind the wheel, according to Stewart-Haas Racing officials.
This will be Stewart’s second consecutive race outside the car after being involved in an incident that killed Kevin Ward, Jr., in a Sprint Car race August 9th at Canadaigua Motorsports Park (located roughly 40 minutes from Rochester). The decision to sit out this weekend was Stewart’s and it will bge his call when to return.
SHR executive vice president Brett Frood:
“This was an emotional week for him. He’s grieving and made the decision he’s not ready to get in the racecar and will take it week by week. It will be up to Tony when he’s ready to get back in the car.
“Anytime someone is lost, especially at a racetrack, it’s tragic. It was a tragic accident and he’s dealing with quite a bit of grief.”
Stewart could face criminal charges, pending results from an investigation into Ward’s death by the Ontario County, NY Sheriff’s department. However, no evidence exists to suggest “criminal intent” on Stewart’s part, according to Ontario County Sheriff Phillip Povero during a Monday press conference. The investigation should end in two weeks.
“I’m quite certain when we get through this that everyone will get the story from the key parties.”
“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 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.”
Jeff Burton will drive Stewart’s No. 14 car in Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400.
“My role here is to hopefully provide a little stability, give that team a chance to have the most success they can have in a very difficult situation. Hopefully I can find a way to help the healing process start. I don’t know how that is, but that would be my ultimate goal for everybody.
“Obviously, it’s an awkward situation for everybody. But there’s a lot of people at Stewart-Hass Racing that work really, really hard and deserve 100 percent effort from me and that’s what they’re going to get.”
Source: SB Nation