Tony Stewart kills fellow race car driver in ‘tragic accident’

ONTARIO COUNTY, New York — NASCAR driver Tony Stewart hit and killed another driver who was walking on a track during a dirt-track race in upstate New York, authorities said early Sunday.

Kevin Ward Jr., 20, died from injuries suffered in the incident, which occurred Saturday night at the Empire Super Sprints series event at the Canandaigua Motorsports Park.

The track is about a two-hour drive from Watkins Glen International race track, where Stewart had been scheduled to race in a NASCAR event Sunday.

“There aren’t words to describe the sadness I feel about the accident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr.,” Stewart said Sunday, according to a written statement tweeted by NASCAR. “It’s a very emotional time for all involved. … My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and everyone affected by this tragedy.”

Stewart’s team director Greg Zipadelli said Sunday morning the driver has decided not to drive in the event.

“Our hearts go out to Kevin’s family,” Zipadelli said. “This is a very tough, very emotional time for everybody — his family, our family at Stewart-Haas Racing.”

On Saturday night, Ward’s sprint car hit the outside wall during lap 14 of a 25-lap race, Ontario County Sheriff Philip C. Povero said.

A video of the incident [scroll down] shows two cars coming out of a turn with Stewart’s No. 14 car sliding up the track toward Ward’s No. 13 car. The two cars get close and appear to make contact before Ward’s car hits the wall and spins out. Another car narrowly avoids hitting the 13 car as its sits on the track facing the wrong direction.

Ward gets out of his crashed car, walking on the track toward the race cars, which had slowed for a yellow flag. Ward points a finger and appears to be yelling. One car swerves to avoid Ward on the half-mile dirt track.

Stewart’s car passes close to Ward, and it appears that its right rear tire hits him.

An ambulance took Ward to a hospital, but he died before it arrived, Povero told reporters.

“Stewart has fully cooperated” with an investigation, Povero said. “He acknowledges the collision with the driver.”

Povero said it appeared to an on-track incident.

“But I want to make it very clear, there are no criminal charges pending at this time,” he said.

Ward, from Port Leyden, was in his fifth season in the Empire Super Sprints series. He began racing when he was 4 years old, running go-kart events.

Stewart’s spokesman said they are trying to sort out the details.

“A tragic accident took place last night during a sprint car race in which Tony Stewart was participating,” Mike Arning said. “Tony was unhurt, but a fellow competitor lost his life. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.”

A competitor, which runs the car that swerved around Ward, expressed sympathy.

“Our deepest condolences go to the entire Ward Family. We are one huge ESS family, you will be truly missed bud! #RIP13,” Hebing Racing tweeted.

Stewart is a three-time champion in NASCAR’s top division and also won a sprint car championship in 1995.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends, and fellow competitors of Kevin Ward Jr.,” NASCAR said in a written statement Sunday. “We support Tony Stewart’s decision to miss today’s race and we will continue to respect the process and timeline of the local authorities and will continue to monitor this situation moving forward.”

Regan Smith will replace Stewart on Sunday, Zipadelli said.

Stewart also owns a dirt race track in New Weston, Ohio, and has frequently raced sprint cars during the NASCAR season. He broke a leg last year in a crash that ended his racing season. He has raced the full NASCAR season this year, but only returned to sprint cars in July.

Video of the incident was posted to YouTube. WARNING: This video is graphic.

65 comments

    • sw

      I’m sorry but two wrongs don’t make a right. Tony clearly should have been at the bottom of the track during a caution. He was still riding the middle of the track. People there claim he intentionally tried to scare this kid and it went wrong. Guess we will see what happens.

  • Crystal

    True the fellow driver should have been more cautious about crossing the track, however if there was a accident in front of him hopefully Tony did everything he could to reduce his speed and use caution and just simply could not in any way avoid this tragic accident. So sad to hear, thoughts and prayers to everyone involved especially the victim’s family and friends, most of whom probably witnessed this event :-(

  • ford

    ..tony Stewart killed the guy…plain and simple……yes…the guy was hotheaded and went out on the track…..happens countless times……but tony Stewart was in control of a 2000 lb weapon….and aimed it at him and killed him..

      • Jase Michael

        Tony Stewart is a thug, he is always involved in accidents and now he has killed someone. The fact is NEVER tried slow down or swerve-, in fact he hit the gas when he was close. I honestly think he tried to brush into the guy and flat out killed the guy. I hope he goes to jail for manslaughter, never races again, and loses big time in a civil lawsuit.
        For those of you who remotely think his was a COMPLETE accident-he knew there was a wrecked car on the track, thus slow down, there was a Yellow flag out, thus slow down, service crew would be out on the track to attend to the wrecked car he helped cause thus slow down, he’s a professional he knows better—-but his thug like anger killed the guy. PERIOD—-GO TO HELL EVIL STEWART

    • jeff

      The driver before Tony car had just barely miss the guy and it was not a well lighted track and they don’t have spotters at that track. Tony back tire hit him. Don’t think he tried to hit him.it’s just sad

  • Unsure

    Not saying this is what happened but look at the video it almost appears Tony kind of “bobbed” the car a bit to maybe scare the guy and the back end popped out on him. I dont think he would ever do anything intentionally but thats what it looked like to me.

    • Debbie

      The Kid should NEVER have gotten out of the car and did what he did.. Once he put himself on that track with his boots…. He put himself in jeopardy…

  • cseeb

    Kevin willfully walked onto the track without common sense and disregard for oncoming traffic. Very tragic and horrible accident. I am unaware of spotters on this course, but all drivers were low and slowing.

    • Jase Michael

      Tony Stewart is a thug, he is always involved in accidents and now he has killed someone. The fact is NEVER tried slow down or swerve-, in fact he hit the gas when he was close. I honestly think he tried to brush into the guy and flat out killed the guy. I hope he goes to jail for manslaughter, never races again, and loses big time in a civil lawsuit.
      For those of you who remotely think his was a COMPLETE accident-he knew there was a wrecked car on the track, thus slow down, there was a Yellow flag out, thus slow down, service crew would be out on the track to attend to the wrecked car he helped cause thus slow down, he’s a professional he knows better—-but his thug like anger killed the guy. PERIOD—-GO TO HELL EVIL STEWART

      • athynz

        You must have been watching a different video – Stewart was not going any faster than the guy who was in front of him. Ward got in the middle of the track – add to that the fact he was wearing all black makes him hard to see in a place where a person’s presence is unanticipated… what you have is the recipe for a tragic accident. Stewart is a jerk from what I’ve heard – I don’t follow racing – but from what I’m seeing in the video it did not seem to be deliberate.

        Queue trolling comments.

      • David

        athynz said “Queue trolling comments.” This is how we know you are archiving comments, even though you claim not to be.

      • athynz

        “DAVID
        athynz said “Queue trolling comments.” This is how we know you are archiving comments, even though you claim not to be.

        AUGUST 10, 2014 AT 9:29 PM”

        No David it’s because you always manage to comment on most of my posts using one of your many screen names. So why do you keep stalking me? Why do you beat your dog?

  • John

    The driver, Kevin Ward, walked into the middle of the track. If he would have stayed to the side of the track, this would have never happened. I realize that he was emotional, but he should have kept a safe distance from the cars on the track and settled his differences after the race. It is a terrible outcome. I pray for all those involved.

  • sw

    Kevin walked onto the track which was a mistake. He is not the first driver to do it and he won’t be the last. He is the first driver to be hit by the person who actually wrecked him earlier. Everyone knows Tony Steward is a hot head and I don’t believe he intentionally wanted to kill this guy but I do think he wanted to scare him and it went wrong. He clearly had enough room to be lower on the track during the caution but was not. Just because someone runs in front of you doesn’t mean you don’t have to do anything to try and avoid them. It becomes a 50/50 situation.

  • Robbie

    There’s fat slob Tony Stewart with his unlimited resources racing with guys that do it for the love of it on a limited budget. Ole saturated fat Tony teaches the kid a lesson and wrecks him. Running over him was tragic but lardo Stewart deserves no sympathy. He has wrecked many in his day to teach them a lesson. Well he really taught this kid a lesson his family will never forget. You people keep shedding a tear for poor Tony and saying it was nothing he could do. I look at the hot headed tub of lard and wonder how this hasn’t happened before now.

    • Ya

      Well said. I couldn’t have said it better. Tony put this boy in the wall deliberately. What the kid should have done is wait until that fat slob got out of his car after the race then knock him out. That’s what I would have done.

      • Robbie

        Let’s take it a bit further! Smoke, as Stewart is often called is a nickname given to him. It’s not because he loves marijuana, it’s because he’s a hot head. An investigation will be conducted. I hope an indictment of manslaughter follows. He will surely be sued. I hope he loses everything.

      • athynz

        I don’t follow racing so I’d have to take your word that Stewart is a hothead – but from this video it looks like Ward was just as hot headed and far more reckless as he did walk into the middle of the track and was wearing all black. From what I’m seeing it appears to be a tragic accident.

    • Robbie

      WTVR, I see someone has flagged my original post on this matter. I said nothing out of the way. I ask you leave my post as is because it truly shows the disgust I have in the events that caused a man to needlessly lose hi life.

  • Richard Fukishima

    The real culprit here are the sports media, ESPN in particular, who highlight and trumpet the in-your-face confrontations on their regular programming. Ward, a local race track driver, saw a chance to make a national name for himself by challenging a well known NASCAR driver and having this replayed over and over on television. Ward’s behavior was uncalled for and has not only put a black mark on Stewart’s career but also could have caused injury to other racers and track employees. We may never know Stewart’s true motive in this incident but if Ward had not made his fatal choice this would not be a discussion today. Sadly, its not just this incident but many others that occur daily for the cameras, the hard hits in football that cause concussions and other long term injuries, the baseball fights, basketball show-offs, and on and on. The camera changes behavior and the huckster’s who offer up commentary supporting these show-boaters are as responsible for Ward’s death as Ward himself.

    • athynz

      How do you figure that? From this video Stewart wasn’t going any faster than the car in front of him, Ward walked into the middle of the track in a temper tantrum, he was wearing all black – it appears to be a tragic accident. But it’s possible I missed something in the video – could you kindly point out what I missed? You seem very certain that Stewart did this deliberately. Thanks.

  • JCadillak

    I am not taking any side – but i have watch the video over and over again – it looks like tony stewart rev up his engine to scare the little boy and things went horribly wrong from there -

  • really?

    Some of the most ignorant people on the planet have posted the most stupid comments I’ve ever read. I despise Tony Steward (REALLY!) but this was not intentional. It was a tragic accident. I watched the video 10 times. Drama seekers… get a life!

  • nikkitravis77

    Not a NASCAR fan. But, if you are in a wreck you should exit the track, not walk into the lanes because you are angry. Tony may be an ass but if Kevin had not placed himself on the track he would not have been hit. I have watched this video multiple times. The guy walking onto the track made a horrible decision. Control is never guaranteed on a racing track.

  • Kenny Powers

    The kid should have stayed in his car, or left the track. Dressed in all black, and standing in the track. Tony won’t have to pay a dime out, except to his lawyers. Another hothead bites the dust.

  • Angela

    Very disappointed that NASCAR did not suspend Tony Stewart pending a complete investigation. Accident or intentional he killed a 20 year old driver. Even though he had the common sense not to race today NASCAR owed it to this family and one of their upcoming drivers to send a clear message of support and suspend Tony Stewart.

  • They walk among us

    It is a shame the young man did not stay in his car. We will never know what he thought he would accomplish by walking down a banked, dimly lit dirt track with moving race cars. I am sure if he could have done it over again, he would have kept his cool and dealt with the injustices of his wreck after the race.

  • anonymous

    IMO I think Tony killed him on purpose. You can hear him step on the gas right before hitting Ward and get off the throttle after he hits him. It’s plain as day.

    • manalishi

      Given the footage was taken from opposite side of the track with zoom. it’s far more likely you heard throttle from the side closest to the camera.

  • Just a random person who is observing from a non race fan standpoint

    I dont follow Nascar at all so totally unbiased here. After watching the video a few times here are my thoughts. First of all we all know that Ward shouldnt have walked out into the middle of the track no matter what the reason. But my question is If Tony Stewart is an experienced race car driver…shouldn’t he have known reving his engine would have caused the car to fishtail back like that given his experience driving them? Gather from what other people are saying about him being a hot head…I am going with the theory that he was trying to scare Ward and not purposely hit him…but given that he did rev the car intentionally and try to scare him…he is still holds some responsibility for his death.

    • Bobby O

      100% agree with this. Either Stewart is a completely incompetent driver to not slow down on a caution from a crash he caused, or his hot head caused him to act irrationally to keep the upper hand. Either way, he should never race again. What an idiot.

  • Manny

    Stay in your f’ing car unless it is on fire! Tired of seeing grown men act like cry babies when they get hit. Then when THEY hit a car it’s just racing of course.

  • JC

    Many people here are suggesting Tony revved the engine to scare the guy; it makes sense but is wrong. It looks like he down-shifted which would increase the revs, and is a good way to control a slow down on a dirt surface. Think about it….

  • widmarc clark

    no matter where an incident occurs common sence must be in play. anything can and will happen on a race track.
    bad judgement, tempers flaring, it’s all there waiting to happen. stewart 43 is a professional race car driver. he knows
    what to do in any situation involving racing. Racing is fun for the driver and fans, it’s that simple. people watch racing
    for many reasons, however seeing someone get seriously hurt is not why fans come to the track. cars getting banged
    around skidding into guard rails is the fun of it all possibly, seeing your favorite driver win,probably the ultimate thrill.

    tony stewart knows this, or he should, maybe he forgot. a 16 year old cannot know what stewart knows. stewart should
    be setting an example, he is looked up to. the young man was doing what he has seen others do in racing, get out of
    the car and show he displeasure. on the highway when we see a car on the shoulder we move over to the left lane to
    avoid trouble. tony stewart should have done the same, he didn’t. on the highway if the driver pops out of their car you
    might hit them, if you just rode by when you could have moved over and you hit them, you would most likely be charged
    with failing to void an accident.

    had tony stewart done that all would have turned out well. apologies could have taken place after the race. this is only
    one of many opinions.

    widmarc clark

  • jayhawker420

    All I have to say is they teach you no matter what to stay in your car unless its on fire people like ward I hate to say it done it to himself rubbing is racing always has been always will be if you can’t handle it guess u had better stay on the porch. Truly sad but not Tony’s fault. Tony could have been just like ward got out of his car and could have happened to ward then what that family wouldn’t stand a chance. Good luck to all

  • manalishi

    I’m not a nascar fan at all yet the headline makes no sense. “kills fellow race car driver” Yet based on the footage, this young an became a pedestrian (not a driver) as soon as he left his drivers seat. I’m somewhat confident that there is a policy about pedestrians on the track during a live race even under yellow flag. Approaching a race car that is still circling the track is worthy of a Darwin award nomination. Why would a driver even look for pedestrians on the race track? How much debri obstructs your vision after a few laps on a dirt track? The questions are limitless. Prayers for the Ward family.

    • Dustin Cavanaugh

      Even as a pedestrian his occupation was still a “Race car driver” so he did indeed kill a “fellow race car driver” it’s whether or not he is at any fault which is the question.

  • Cheryl

    Whatever way you look at it, it is a tragedy. Not only for the young man but for Tony Stewart as well. None of us were there. We’ve only watching a grainy video, and we’ll never know if he revved his engine. This is something Tony Stewart will have to live with for the rest of his life. He may not get a criminal punishment, but the sadness he will experience May make him retire from ever racing again.

  • Cat

    Tony Stewart is my least fav driver however NO driver should run out into a track with race cars running……PERIOD!

  • Donna

    The kid should have remained in his car…. when thr wreckershowed up he foo came close to the kids ody..he brought in onhimself … drivers shouldnt leave tbere car… I comefrom a facing famkly 30 plus years..track ks ment for racing not walking around expressing your anger for all we know the kkd could had grab tonys car?? YOU JUST DONT KNKW HE WAS I N A BAD SPOT DARK SHADOWS ETC??? DRIVERS STAY JN YOUR CAR !!!!!

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