Watkins Glen, NY, United States (4E Sports) – The future of three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart is uncertain after he hit and killed Kevin Ward Jr. in a Saturday night race at Canandaigua Motorsports Park.
Last season, Stewart missed the August race at Watkins Glen International due to a broken right leg. This year, he did not participate because of the mental anguish in connection with Ward’s death.
The potential legal ramifications of the crash are being investigated by the Ontario County Sheriff’s Department, led by Sheriff Philip Povero.
Povero said the investigation is being reviewed by the district attorney, and there had been no evidence to support intent or criminal charges.
Eyewitness testimony and video still is being gathered as the sheriff’s department seeks to reconstruct the crash.
Autopsy results from the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office still are pending for Ward and funeral arrangements also haven’t been announced by the family, which released a statement Sunday requesting time to grieve.
Citing his emotional state, Stewart elected not to race Sunday at Watkins Glen, where he was replaced in the No. 14 Chevrolet by Regan Smith (who finished 37th).
NASCAR’s premier series heads this weekend to Michigan International Speedway with four races remaining before the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins.
Stewart isn’t qualified for the 10-race playoff, but he will retain his eligibility for making the Chase via a victory if he attempts to qualify Friday at Michigan.
With A.J. Allmendigner’s stunning victory Sunday at the Glen, 12 of the 16 spots in the Chase have been filled by race winners.
Because he is ranked 22nd in the points, Stewart’s only shot at making the Chase for the first time in two years is via a victory – if he can return behind the wheel.