Stewart won’t run at Bristol
(Reuters) — Tony Stewart will skip this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at the Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee, the third consecutive event the three-time champion has missed since being involved in a fatal on-track accident.
Jeff Burton will replace Stewart for the second straight week, Stewart-Haas Racing said Wednesday.
Stewart, one of the highest-paid drivers in NASCAR, was competing in a sprint car race on Aug. 9 in upstate New York when he clipped the car of 20-year-old driver Kevin Ward Jr.
Ward was sent careening into a retaining wall while Stewart continued racing. When the caution flag came out, Ward jumped out of his car and, while in the middle of the track, pointed angrily at Stewart when he came around on the next lap.
Stewart’s car struck Ward, causing fatal injuries in the non-NASCAR race.
No charges have been filed against Stewart although the investigation has not yet been completed.
Stewart, 43, skipped the NASCAR race at Watkins Glen, New York, the following day and then sat out the Michigan 400 last week.
Stewart’s plans for the rest of the season have not yet been determined, Stewart-Haas Racing said.
Gibbs offers support for Stewart
Joe Gibbs believes that Tony Stewart will eventually overcome the trauma associated with the accident that killed sprint car driver Kevin Ward Jr.
Gibbs and other drivers have not spoken with Stewart since the incident in New York on Aug. 9.
“From what I saw with Tony, he’s got great courage, he’s smart, he loves this sport,” Gibbs said Tuesday. “He’s totally focused on it.”
Gibbs said he has been praying for his former driver.
“We all love Tony, we love what he did for us here,” he said. “We know he’s a racer’s racer and he’s big for our sport. I would love to have a chance to speak with him at some point and encourage him.”
Gibbs was told that Stewart is in seclusion with close family and friends while he grieves.
“This is a horrible thing to have happen — for the (Ward) family, for (Stewart) — so we’re all praying for ‘em,” Gibbs said. “This is just hard to go through, so everybody is going to have to prayerfully work their way through it.”