Veteran driver Jeff Burton will pilot the No. 14 car instead
NASCAR star Tony Stewart will not race this weekend in Brooklyn, Mich. as originally scheduled, his team announced Thursday on Twitter. Instead, veteran driver Jeff Burton will pilot the No. 14 car.
For now, the driver switch only applies to the Michigan race. Plans for upcoming events have “yet to be determined,” the Stewart-Haas team said.
Stewart withdrew from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Michigan International Speedway in the wake of Kevin Ward Jr.'s death, which occurred as a result of an accident involving the two racers on Aug. 9. Stewart also pulled out of the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International in New York, the day after the crash.
Below is the Stewart-Haas Racing announcement:
Ward Jr. was struck and killed by Stewart late Saturday night at the Canandaigua Motorsports Park in upstate New York during the Lucas Oil Super Sprint Feature race. The fatal crash happened after Ward “lost control mid-race, got out of his car, and was standing on the dirt track,” Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero said in a previous statement.
As Ward stood outside of his vehicle, two cars approached him. “The first car swerved to avoid the driver out on the track. The second car, operated by Tony Stewart, struck the driver,” the police statement said.
It was the first time Kevin had ever gotten out of his car during a race, his father said on Tuesday, adding, “Apparently, Tony Stewart was the only one driving out there who didn't see him.”
Amateur video uploaded to YouTube shows Ward standing outside of his number 13 car, and walking on the track toward other vehicles, which had slowed because the race was put into caution. Ward points a finger and appears to be yelling at the passing cars. One car swerves to avoid him, before he is hit by Stewart's number 14 car.
Ward was transported to the F.F. Thompson Hospital where he was pronounced dead a short time later, officials said.
On Tuesday, the Ontario County Sheriff's Department said that the investigation into the crash will take ”at least another two weeks or more.”
The autopsy was completed Monday, with the coroner's office listing Ward's cause of death as “massive blunt force trauma.” No other information from the autopsy will be released, the coroner's office said.
Canandaigua Motorsports Park — where the fatal accident occurred — will reopen on Saturday, according to track promoter Jeremie Corcoran.