NEW YORK (Reuters) - NASCAR star Tony Stewart will sit out of an upcoming Michigan event, his team said on Thursday, just five days after he fatally struck a competing racer at a low-stakes New York dirt track race.
Stewart’s team, Stewart-Haas Racing, said in a statement he will not participate in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events at the Michigan International Speedway this weekend, adding the team has not decided on future races.
On Saturday, the mercurial racer and one of the highest-paid drivers in NASCAR, was competing at the Canandaigua Motorsports Park in upstate New York when he clipped the car of 20-year-old driver Kevin Ward Jr., according to video of the event published online.
Ward then stepped out of his car and onto the track and seemed to gesture at Stewart before being struck and killed by Stewart’s vehicle, according to the videos.
“There aren’t words to describe the sadness I feel about the accident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr.,” Stewart said in a statement after the incident.
Stewart, 43, decided to sit out last Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Watkins Glen, New York, but only after facing a storm of criticism on social media.
Ward’s father on Tuesday lashed out at the three-time NASCAR champion Stewart in a newspaper interview over the death.
“Apparently, Tony Stewart was the only one driving out there who didn’t see him,” Kevin Ward Sr. Told the Syracuse Post-Standard.
County officials have said that the investigation into whether Stewart should face criminal charges will last at least for two weeks.
In Stewart’s place at the weekend Sprint Cup will be veteran driver Jeff Burton, the team said in the statement.
Reporting by Curtis Skinner; Editing by Sandra Maler