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

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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.


  • h

    Why the quotations around tragic accident, CBS6? Are you insinuating that Tony Stewart purposely hit this young man who was foolishly walking into on-coming traffic on a race track?

    • widmarc clark

      no matter how anyone tries to make excuses for tony stewart, he hit and killed a fellow driver. everyone knows drivers
      have been getting out of race cars and confronting other drivers on the track after getting spun out. so far tony stewart
      is the only driver to hit and kill someone. no matter what (ward) did on the track ( meaning )he was in the open standing
      there unprotected letting stewart know he was not pleased with what had happened.

      It’s done at every race that operates race cars, should a driver stay in his or her race car ( abso 100% utely), however
      drivers do what has gone on since racing begin, they show their displeasure by standing on the track shouting at the
      driver who spun him or her out or what ever the problem was.
      no one has ever expected to get run over and killed while standing there, after all it’s under caution, drive high, drive
      low, drive slow, be very careful. it’s a race folks, thats all, don’t let your temper get the best of you. next friday, saturday,
      or sunday we’ll race again. the problem this time is ( Ward ) won’t be racing next weekend or ever again. No one knows
      where all this will lead. One thing is for sure, had Tony Stewart driven down on the bottom of the track away from
      Ward, most likely nothing would have happened. This will most likely become a ugly court battle. where racing was once
      simple concerning racing disputes, it will never be again, pit fights, letting off steam, will now end up in court.
      Did all of us really need to have the legal system get into the race track to settle what good ole boys have up
      to this point alway settled.
      Now outsiders who have no interest racing will be calling the shots. this only one of many opinions.

      widmarc clark

  • randy jones

    Stewart clearly did that intentionally, you can see him throttle and pull the wheel, he should be charged full responsibility!

    • Cameron

      You are a idiot. You can not clearly see him “pull the wheel”! Throttle yes but saying he should be charged is dumb of you! He didn’t wake up that morning saying I am going to kill this man today. Stop making things up and filling your head with bull shit ideas and learn to open your eyes an see it was a mistake.

    • Cameron

      One driver passed him dumbass as he walked down the track and it was the car ahead of tony. Those cars are cramped and hard to see whats to your left and right to a degree! Not to mention he was wearing black at night and the dirt is dark. So maybe he didnt see him because of the circumstances.

  • Linda Clary

    Tony Stewart is too much of a driver and gentle man to run over and kill someone. This is so unfair of public to weigh in if they were not there in Stewarts shoes. So sorry for rhe death of the young Ward and my heart goes out to his family and to Tony Stewart has his heart is heavy too.

  • Richard Howser

    Stewart tried to play “chicken ” with that brave kid thinking he was gonna step aside for a “Big Name ” nascar driver … loose stewart

  • IC

    Can anyone see the obvious, clear, transparent Staged and Tooled Media Attack Campaigns:
    Tony Stewart, McDonalds, Israel, Russian, ex Governor McDonnell, Arizona, Wisconsin, NJ Governors, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Opponents of Bottom Ball Park, Sports Owners, Redskins Name, etc., etc., etc. Deliberately orchestrated, to attempt to slant, manipulate, mold, shape, infuse, infiltrate the masses’ opinions and attitudes. Sensationalism, emoting, feelings and commentary
    Before Facts, without disclosed facts, and contorted for Presentation..

  • Jamie

    Why would such an inexperienced young person even be COACHED to challenge an experience driver? What coach would allow such a young child to run on a live race track to express his displeasure? Very POOR coaching by Kevin Ward Jr. Team and they should explain why do they allow their drivers to get out of their cars while cars are still in motion and allow the DRIVERS be in DANGER….THE DRIVING INDUSTRY NEEDS AN EXPLANATION FROM COACHES AS TO WHY THEY SHOULD ALLOW OUR CHILDREN TO EVEN CONSIDER OUR CHILDREN/GRANDCHILDREN TO ENTER THIS SPORT!!

  • Cameron

    Opinions are like butt holes, everyone has one! I think this accident happened one of two ways. I think Tony stewart was trying to sling dirt on Kevin Ward jr. to taught at him and he by mistake killed the young man. The other way is Kevin Ward jr. walked down the track even farther towards Tony Stewart’s race card and at the last second and at the last second tried to dive down low and went wrong. I also believe possibly Tony did not see Kevin Ward jr standing/walking down the track because the car before Tony Stewart barely missed him and by accident Tony hit him. Tony should not be in trouble for this because I believe it was a honest mistake and his punishment for the rest of his life, even for not meaning to kill someone will live with him forever.

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