Tony Stewart’s NASCAR driving status is still be determined for this weekend’s upcoming NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400, and all his external racing activity is now on an indefinite hiatus, per a report from NBCSN’s Nate Ryan for USA Today.
In an email, Stewart-Haas Racing communications director Mike Arning wrote to Ryan:
“The decision to compete in this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Michigan will be Tony’s, and he will have as much time as he needs to make that decision. It is still an emotional time for all involved, Tony included. He is grieving, and grief doesn’t have a timetable.”
He also confirmed the lack of other racing outside NASCAR commitments within the same email.
As of 2:30 p.m. ET Monday, SHR had not released an official statement on its website or social media pages to confirm whether or not Stewart would be in the field. Until further notice, he will be listed on the race entry list in the team’s No. 14 Chevrolet.
As it pertains to his potential status in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, Stewart would need to attempt to qualify for the race to ensure he’s been active at each race weekend. A driver has to attempt to qualify for each of the 26 regular season races and be inside the top 30 in points – plus in Stewart’s case, he’d need a win – in order to be Chase-eligible.
Although he did not race at Watkins Glen this weekend – Regan Smith filled in – Stewart did qualify the car and thus remains Chase-eligible at the moment.
Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.
“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”
The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.
Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.
“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”
Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.