Drivers Tony Stewart, 43, and Kevin Ward Jr., 20, were first involved in a minor incident on the track at the Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park Saturday night and then involved in a major one there. As a result, the Ontario County sheriff’s office is now engaged in an investigation of the events leading to a fatality unlike most associated with automobile racing.
During an Empire Super Sprints race, Stewart appeared to take Ward high on the track, causing his car to hit the wall and flatten a tire, as recounted by Motorsport.com. And it seemed Ward was none too pleased about it as he got out of his car, pointed his finger at Stewart and walked down the track. This is business as usual in the racing game: one driver unhappy about the actions of another driver.
However, Stewart then hit Ward with his car, even though the below video shows the former appeared to attempt swerving away from the latter. The attempt was clearly unsuccessful, with Stewart continuing to travel at an estimated 40 mph and Ward laying motionless on the track. This is business as unusual in the racing game: a driver killed not while speeding around the oval but while walking on it.
Ontario County Sheriff Philip C. Povero said at a press conference concluding Sunday a little after 3 a.m. EDT that Ward was pronounced dead on arrival at a nearby hospital Saturday at 11:15 p.m. EDT, Motorsport.com reported. Povero described Stewart as “cooperative” and “very upset” in the early stages of the investigation, the site said. No charges have been filed as of yet.
Stewart was the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion in 2002, 2005 and 2011; Ward has an online site that leads with this sentence, “The 2014 racing season has produced more than its share of bad luck for Kevin Ward Jr.”
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Below is extremely raw footage of the incidents involving Stewart and Ward Saturday night, with the YouTube video posted by Pete Lasow: