Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) competition director Greg Zipadelli announced Sunday morning that Tony Stewart has decided not to race in Sunday's Cheez-It 355 Sprint Cup Series event at Watkins Glen International. Stewart was driving a sprint car Saturday night that struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr. after Ward exited his race car during a caution.
Zipadelli announced that Nationwide series driver Regan Smith will fill in for Stewart in the No. 14 SHR Chevrolet in the Sunday afternoon Sprint Cup race. The team had announced earlier in the day that Stewart would drive Sunday but Zipadelli said after meeting with several team members, the three-time champion had decided not to race.
Zipadelli did not address when Stewart will return to the NASCAR Sprint Cup car. With only five races left to qualify for the championship field, a win on the road course at Watkins Glen might have been his best chance to make the field.
The Ontario County's Sheriff's Department gave details of the accident in a press release posted on the department's web site, “On Saturday August 9, 2014, at or about 10:30 PM there was an on track incident at the Exit of Turn 2 at the Canandaigua Motorsports Park, during the Lucas Oil Super Sprint Feature race. The race was in lap 14 of a 25 lap race, when one car lost control and spun coming to rest along the outside retaining wall. The race was immediately put into caution, slowing the cars on the track. The driver of the car that spun, exited the race car and walked down the track onto the racing surface. Two racecars traveling in tandem approached as the driver continued down the track, gesturing to the two approaching cars. The first car swerved to avoid the driver out on the track. The second car, operated by Tony Stewart, struck the driver. The driver was treated by on track medical staff and was transported to F.F. Thompson Hospital where he was pronounced deceased at 11:15 PM. At this point, Mr. Stewart has cooperated with the investigation, which is ongoing. The Sheriff's Office has asked the individuals who possess amateur video, to please make contact with this office so that copies of the video accounts can be obtained for review. “
Although Smith will get into the No. 14 Sunday without previous time in the car, he will have the knowledge he gained Saturday when he finished 17th in the ZIPPO 200 AT THE GLEN NASCAR Nationwide race at the New York track. Smith, who drives for JR Motorsports in the Nationwide series, was forced to return to pit road Saturday to tighten the lug nuts on the right-front tire and did not get the finish the team expected.