Tony Stewart hasn’t gotten back on the racetrack since his car struck and killed driver Kevin Ward at Canandaigua Motorsports Park dirt track on Aug. 9. Almost two weeks later, it’s unknown when the 43 year-old will compete in another NASCAR event.
Following the incident in upstate New York, Stewart withdrew from the next day’s race at Watkins Glen. He also skipped Sunday’s race at Michigan International Speedway and canceled his racing appearances outside of NASCAR. According to Brett Frood, executive vice president of Stewart's team, Stewart-Haas Racing, the three-time Cup champion is privately grieving Ward’s death.
The next NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is set for Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee. Stewart has yet to address whether or not he will return this weekend.
Stewart has had his share of history at Bristol. He’s a former winner at the track, finishing in first place nearly 13 years to the date on Saturday. It’s also the home to one of his most famous blowouts, as he threw his helmet at Matt Kenseth’s car on the racetrack in 2012.
Stewart’s immediate future in NASCAR remains unclear. He could chose to wait until the investigation into Ward's death is over, which could take a few more weeks. However, Joe Gibbs, who Stewart raced for from 1999-2008, believes that the driver will eventually be back.
''Tony's got great courage," Gibbs said on Tuesday. "He's smart. He loves this sport. He's totally focused on it. He doesn't have distractions. He's very important to our sport. This is a horrible thing to have happen for the Ward family, for him.''
Gibbs has not spoken to Stewart since Ward’s death. Other top drivers have attempted to speak with Stewart, but been unsuccessful.
"We all love Tony, we love what he did for us here," Gibbs continued. "We know he's a racer's racer and he's big for our sport. I would love to have a chance to speak with him at some point and encourage him."
Stewart currently ranks 25th in the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Driver Standings with 537 points. Only three races remain in the regular season, before the Chase for the Cup begins on Sept. 14 at Chicagoland Speedway.