Dale Jarrett talks with Tony Stewart: ‘He made the right decision’ not to race Sunday

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As can be imagined in a situation such as Saturday night’s tragedy at Canandaigua Speedway in upstate New York that claimed the life of young race car driver Kevin Ward Jr., Tony Stewart did not choose to speak with the general media Sunday morning at Watkins Glen International.

But Stewart did speak privately to at least one high-profile member of the media – who also happens to be a former driver/champion and a NASCAR Hall of Famer – but more as friend-to-friend than athlete-to-reporter.

That was ESPN analyst Dale Jarrett.

To his credit, Jarrett put his brief meeting with Stewart in context during the network’s pre-race show about an hour before the green flag dropped for the Cheez-It 355 at WGI.

Said Jarrett:

“I did speak to Tony as a friend. My conversation with Tony was just to let him know that he had many friends like myself and an entire community that was thinking about Tony, he’s in our thoughts and prayers, and we all love and support him.

“We all go through challenges in our life. We don’t know sometime why these challenges are put in front of us and face us, but that he had all of us to lean on in a most difficult time.

“I’m fortunate to call Tony Stewart a good friend, and I was honored that he would take a little bit of time to be there, and I could be there with him this morning, just as a friend, wanting to let him know I am here if there is anything I can do.

“It was basically Tony’s decision that he did that (decided not to race in Sunday’s event at The Glen). After you think about things, that you realize that this is the right thing.

“That was the last thing I told Tony – other than that I loved him like a brother – that he made the right decision. He didn’t need my reassurance, he knew that he made the right decision, and it was the only decision. And Tony Stewart is that type of person and showed that once again.”

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MRTI: Juncos signs Carlos Cunha for Pro Mazda campaign

Photo: Juncos Racing
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Juncos Racing continued to bolster its entries in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires by signing Carlos Cunha to pilot a third Juncos Pro Mazda entry for 2018. Cunha, who finished third in the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season on the back of seven podium finishes, joins Rinus VeeKay and Robert Megennis in Juncos’ Pro Mazda lineup for 2018.

Cunha previously tested with the team at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in October and joined Juncos for the Chris Griffis Memorial test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in November, testing cars for both the Pro Mazda and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires teams.

“It’s great to become a part of Juncos Racing,” said the 18-year-old Cunha. “I am really excited to start the 2018 season with Juncos Racing. This fall we did some testing together and from there I was able to see how focused everyone on the team is and I even felt like I became a part of their family in no time. I am confident we will get great results together next year and I look forward to learning and growing more with the team. It will be a huge pleasure and also a great responsibility to carry the number one on my car, thanks to (2017 Pro Mazda champion Victor Franzoni) and I hope to deliver it back to the team at the end of the year!”

Team owner Ricardo Juncos added, “We are excited to add Carlos to our Pro Mazda lineup. From the moment we started testing with him in early October, we knew he would be a great fit for our team. Carlos has been very quick in testing and even had an impressive showing in the Indy Lights car at the Chris Griffis test back in October. He had a great run this past season in the Pro Mazda series and we are confident he will carry that momentum into the 2018 season.”

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