Updated: 08/10/2014 7:13 PM
Created: 08/10/2014 11:01 AM WHEC.com
Tony Stewart did not race Sunday following the death of a sprint car driver who was struck and killed by Stewart at Canandaigua Motorsports Park late Saturday night.
Greg Zipadelli, competition director for Stewart-Haas Racing, said the three-time NASCAR champion "felt strongly" that he should not race at Watkins Glen following Kevin Ward Jr.'s fatal accident. Ward had climbed from his car on the darkened dirt track and was trying to confront Stewart when he was struck Saturday night.
“It’s just an unbelievable tragedy. Our hearts go out to Kevin and his family. We send thoughts and prayers through this very tough and emotional time for everybody,” said Zipadelli.
So the green flag dropped on Sunday afternoon without Tony Stewart behind the wheel of his car.
“I’ve been coming for ten years,” said Robert Stillman, a fan at the Cheez-It 355 in Watkins Glen.
Stillman began coming to Watkins Glen to watch Tony Stewart race. He says he loves Stewart’s aggressive style and was stunned to hear the news early this morning.
“I was up at 3:30 a.m. getting stuff ready to come over. I got on the internet, and I heard about the accident. Later that day, I heard that the driver died. That kind of shook me and my wife up because we are diehard fans. Then today I see that he’s not racing,” said Stillman.
Stewart’s fans say they’re disappointed they didn’t see him race, but they feel it was the right call.
“I appreciate that he did that. Last year he broke his leg, and this year he has another mishap. It’s a terrible thing, but it’s his roots. It’s what he loves to do, and he has to do it,” said James Redding, a fan.
“I thought it showed respect. They say he’s broken up, so it would be hard to race, but it shows respect. If he were to win it would be hard to celebrate,” said Tim Archibald, a fan.
Regan Smith replaced Stewart in the car on Sunday. Stewart was not at the track.