CHARLOTTE, N.C. — 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, N.Y. 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.
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Ward’s funeral was Thursday in Boonville, N.Y. 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 standings. 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 say a driver must either qualify the car or race the car each weekend. NASCAR does have the power to grant a waiver.
Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero said investigators don’t have any evidence at this point to support criminal intent. The investigation could last another two weeks.
At Ward’s open-casket funeral, mourners wept and laughed at favorite stories about the boy who began racing not long after he began walking. The 90-minute service was held at the South Lewis Senior High School to accommodate crowds from this tight racing community in central New York.
Ward, a 2012 South Lewis graduate, was buried in his nearby hometown of Port Leyden, 55 miles from Syracuse.
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