Posted: Aug 10, 2014 9:43 AM by The Associated Press
Updated: Aug 10, 2014 7:55 PM
WATKINS GLEN, New York (AP) - Tony Stewart will not race Sunday following the death of a sprint car driver who Stewart struck and killed at an upstate New York dirt track.
Greg Zipadelli, competition director for Stewart-Haas Racing, said the three-time NASCAR champion "feels strongly" he should not race at Watkins Glen following Kevin Ward Jr.'s fatal accident.
Regan Smith will replace Stewart in the car.
On Saturday night, Ward had crashed following contact with Stewart one lap earlier and got out of his car as it was stopped along the fence. Video of the incident showed Ward walking from his crashed car onto the racing surface as cars circled by, and, as he gestured at Stewart's passing car, he was struck.
Authorities questioned Stewart but said no criminal charges were imminent. Stewart traveled to Watkins Glen International following the incident and planned to race in Sunday's NASCAR event.
Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero said Stewart was "visibly shaken" and had been cooperative in the investigation. Authorities were asking spectators and others to turn over any video they recorded of the crash.
"This is right now being investigated as an on-track crash and I don't want to infer that there are criminal charges pending," Povero said. "When the investigation is completed, we will sit down with the district attorney and review it. But I want to make it very clear: there are no criminal charges pending at this time."
Stewart was scheduled to start 13th on Sunday at Watkins Glen, one of just five remaining races for Stewart to either score a win or move inside the top 16 in points to grab a valuable spot in NASCAR's Chase.
The site of Saturday night's crash is the same track where Stewart was involved in a July 2013 accident that seriously injured a 19-year-old driver. He later took responsibility for his car making contact with another and triggering the 15-car accident that left Alysha Ruggles with a compression fracture in her back.