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The death of an amateur sprint car driver cast a pall over Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race Sunday at Watkins Glen International.
While A.J. Allmendinger won the Cheez-It 355 today in Watkins Glen, N.Y., the mood was somber less than 24 hours after Tony Stewart was involved in the death of Kevin Ward, Jr., following an on-course collision Saturday night at a dirt track in Canandaigua, N.Y. Stewart announced Sunday morning that he would not drive in the race at Watkins Glen.
When the Sprint Cup schedule continues Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, it could go on without Stewart.
As of 6:45 tonight, Stewart-Haas Racing had not decided whether Stewart or someone else would drive the No. 14 Chevrolet this weekend in Brooklyn, Mich. An MIS spokesperson wrote in an email to The Blade that a driver, team or NASCAR makes a decision as to whether or not a driver will compete in a race.
NASCAR did not rule on Stewart’s status at Watkins Glen. Greg Zipadelli, the vice president of competition for Stewart-Haas Racing, this morning originally said Stewart planned to drive. Less than three hours before the start of the race, Zipadelli said the three-time Sprint Cup champion decided not to race.
“There aren’t words to describe the sadness I feel about the accident that took the life of Kevin Ward, Jr.,” Stewart said today in a statement released by spokesperson Mike Arning. “It’s a very emotional time for all involved, and it is the reason I’ve decided not to participate in today’s race at Watkins Glen. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and everyone affected by this tragedy.”