Tony Stewart will be skipping this weekend's Irwin Tools Night Race at the Bristol Motor Speedway, Stewart's employer confirmed. Jeff Burton will sub for Stewart in the Number 14 Chevrolet, according to Yahoo Sports.
Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), the ownership group of Stewart's team, has given Stewart as much time as he needs following an incident earlier this month in which Stewart's car struck and killed a fellow driver at a sprint car race in upstate New York (see this Inquisitr article). Since the incident, Stewart has been "in seclusion," according to ESPN, and has not given any statements to the media.
This will be the third race that Stewart has skipped since the fatal crash; he sat out the Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International, which began just hours after the fatal accident, and he also missed last week's Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway. He won't have to make another decision until shortly before the upcoming Oral-B 500 USA, scheduled for August 31st at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Several of Stewart's colleagues at NASCAR have come to his defense since the tragic accident. Stewart's SHR teammate Kevin Harvick told ESPN:
"I've known Tony Stewart for a long time... I know for sure that Tony Stewart is not going to run over somebody. I don't think there's anybody in this garage that would. It would be hard to find somebody in the racing world that could point that car, just run somebody over."Stewart's replacement for the Bristol race, Jeff Burton, stands in sharp contrast to Tony. Where Stewart has a fiery temperament that has drawn criticism often clashing with reporters, other drivers and even NASCAR officials, according to the L.A. Times, Burton has earned the nickname "The Mayor" for his calm demeanor and conduct. According to USA Today, he's "one of the most respected people in all of NASCAR, always seems to say the right thing, and conducts himself with the utmost class."
Thank u all for your support!Burton has won 21 Sprint Cup races in his career but has only raced twice this year, finishing 17th at the Kobalt 400 in March and 20th at the Camping World RV Sales 301 last month.
— Jeff Burton (@JeffBurton) August 15, 2014
Do you believe Tony Stewart has made the right decision in sitting out this weekend's Irwin Tools Night Race at the Bristol? Let us know what you think in the Comments.
Images courtesy of: USA Today