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Stewart sitting out Michigan after Ward's death

Stewart Won't Race At Michigan

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- 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 at Watkins Glen, a day after he struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr. during a sprint car event in Canandaigua, New York. 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, New York. He died of blunt force trauma.

Stewart's dirt-racing career is on hold, and he could face criminal charges.

Stewart has not commented since he made a statement Sunday.

"There aren't words to describe the sadness I feel about the accident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr.," Stewart said in the statement.

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 says 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. The investigation could last another two weeks.

His sponsors have stayed with him as the investigation unfolds. Mobil 1 has served as the primary sponsor of the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Chevrolet for 19 of the 22 Sprint Cup Series races this season.

"The investigation continues, and we are monitoring the situation," ExxonMobil spokesman Christian Flathman said Thursday.

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.

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MICHAEL August 14 2014 at 9:30 PM

I pray for ya, Tony. Keep the faith.

God Bless you.

Flag Reply +11 rate up
1 reply
diessothunder02 MICHAEL August 14 2014 at 10:57 PM

Dear Tony Stewart
may you get healed and strong from this
it was NOT AT ALL your fault you know
people are praying for you too!!!
you are my fav of all please take good care

Flag Reply +3 rate up
ikemccannski August 15 2014 at 8:09 AM

I am a racer. Have been all my life. I always know that when I am on the track that I could die there. Place fault where fault is due. Ward got out of his car cause he was a hot head in the moment. If he'd stayed in his car he still be alive & racing. This is the fact of the matter. Plain & simple.

Flag Reply +9 rate up
2 replies
Di ikemccannski August 15 2014 at 8:41 AM

I agree 100%.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
puff13puffpass ikemccannski August 16 2014 at 12:30 AM

Too b ad his Dad does not understand that concept

Flag Reply 0 rate up
jakelovestracy August 15 2014 at 7:51 AM

why do you people keep saying tony hit ward? ward jumped on tonys car thats a fact.if fact ward spun himself out the lap before. do you think maybe that if ward stuck to racing rules he should have stayed with his car he would be alive today.trying to jump on a race car doing 35 -40 mph was his own doing.this media blitz against stewart defies logic and just is to make headlines at tonys expense.get off tonys ass!!!

Flag Reply +8 rate up
2 replies
mkraven77 jakelovestracy August 15 2014 at 9:28 AM

The first driver missed and Tony clearly did not try avoid him. Sorry your a racing fan . Stewart deserves jail time

Flag Reply 0 rate up
3 replies
puff13puffpass jakelovestracy August 16 2014 at 12:32 AM

mkraven...u know nada about sprint cars try reading some of the articles on this. No ONE IS BLAMING Tony

Flag Reply 0 rate up
TomVann August 14 2014 at 10:54 PM

Stewart has always been a hot head. A witness, whose account I read said Tony goosed it and it fish-tailed. The kid was an athlete. If Tony's path hadn't changed for some reason, he wouldn't have been in the way. Stewart is a skilled driver and knew that gunning it might make his car step out. He is just such an aggressive person that he was not thinking. I do not imagine that there was criminal intent but criminal negligence is pretty much certain. A young man's life is gone, probably because Stewart wanted to intimidate him. If that is the case, Stewart should face criminal charges and should never race anywhere again.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
4 replies
macdonnall August 14 2014 at 11:39 PM

Sure, both Stewart and Ward must share blame. But Ward paid with his life. Tony is still in one piece. Racing is no fun if it is deadly. 1) Don't get out of the protection of your car unless there is greater danager inside (i.e. a fire, etc). 2) If you are partly to blame for a fatal accident, you must set out for one year. This MIGHT make others more respectful. JMO AKOOLHEAD

Flag Reply +5 rate up
mixnmatch4 August 14 2014 at 9:49 PM

Yeah...grieving that he might get jail time.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
1 reply
mbat830123 mixnmatch4 August 14 2014 at 11:37 PM

It's hard to put someone in jail when they haven't done anything wrong. The people that are hurting from the accident have enough to think about without the snide remarks from people that don't mean anything to either party. Keep it up, no one is listening, at least the ones that have any brain.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
wrascil August 15 2014 at 1:40 AM

we'll leave the light on for ya,
Rikers Island 6 months ta life.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
Finchie August 15 2014 at 2:00 AM

I heard an attorney today from New York that said they have the leanest laws in the country pretaining to death by auto accidents. He doesn't seem to think he'll be charged but will have a civil suit. Personally I don't think he'll come back after this.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
Nancy August 15 2014 at 8:54 AM

None of this was premeditated. It's sad and tragic that someone lost his life...and no amount of finger pointing is going to change that. The conditions of lighting, speed getting out of his car...all contributed to this death. I can't imagine how deeply this is affecting Tony Stewart. My condolences to Ward's family and frieinds...and my prayers are with all.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
Sheri August 15 2014 at 10:56 AM

Tony you are the best, we are praying for you during this time of sadness, keep your head up and stay strong!!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
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