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.
The invite has been received, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. has another iRacing event on his schedule.
The NASCAR on NBC analyst tweeted Wednesday that he will make his debut in the IndyCar iRacing Challenge with Saturday’s race at Michigan Speedway. The race will be shown live on NBCSN at 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday.
The 2-mile oval was chosen by IndyCar drivers as the third track in the six-race series. Earnhardt heartily endorsed Michigan as a potential iRacing venue Monday along with Daytona and Talladega. Michigan nearly was selected by fans as the opener in the iRacing Challenge.
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Earnhardt, a longtime avid iRacing fan, had been lobbying since last Thursday that he was interested in racing with IndyCar drivers.
He has driven in the first three races of the eNASCAR Pro Invitational, finishing second to Denny Hamlin in the opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Last year, he attended his first Indianapolis 500, working as an analyst as part of NBC Sports’ inaugural broadcast of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
“I’d love to do it,” Earnhardt said Monday about joining the IndyCar iRacing Challenge. “I think I’d love to get to know those guys.
“I had such a great time at the Indy 500 last year, and the reception that I received from other drivers there really meant a lot to me. So I know they’re all a lot of great dudes in that series that I already know that I’d love to get to know some of them even better.”
It already has been quite the week for Earnhardt, who was announced Monday as one of 15 nominees for the 2021 NASCAR Hall of Fame.
The field for Saturday’s race at Michigan should include another NASCAR driver in Jimmie Johnson. The seven-time Cup champion has driven the first two races of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge (and has plans to race IndyCar part time in the future).