A spokesman for Tony Stewart is denying reports that the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion will test a car this week, and could return to competition Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Stewart has not raced since the Aug. 9 Sprint Car incident that claimed the life of driver Kevin Ward, Jr. at New York’s Canandaigua Motorsports Park. Multiple sources say he is slated to test a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series entry either today or tomorrow at an undisclosed location, with a possible return to competition in time for Sunday afternoon’s Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta.
Longtime Stewart spokesman Mike Arning denied those reports today, saying, "Stewart Haas Racing is testing at Chicagoland Speedway today and tomorrow with the No. 10 and No. 41 teams, but the No. 14 car and Tony Stewart are not a part of that test."
Asked if Stewart will test elsewhere this week, Arning said, "Absolutely not. Tony and the No. 14 car are not testing anywhere."
The Ontario County (NY) Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate the circumstances surrounding Ward’s death, and a rough timeline offered by Sheriff Philip C. Povero immediately following the incident indicated that the investigation could wrap-up sometime this week. Officer Nathaniel Ross, the department’s Senior Communications Officer told FOXSports.com’s Tom Jensen today that the investigation is "finishing up," but gave no definitive timeline for completion.
Regan Smith and Jeff Burton have replaced Stewart in the last three races at Watkins Glen International, Michigan International Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway, dropping the former series champion to 26th place in the championship standings. Even if he were able to return and win one of the final regular-season races at Atlanta or Richmond International Raceway, Stewart would need a special exemption from NASCAR to compete in the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
NASCAR has not commented on whether such an exemption would be offered.