During a sprint car race at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in New York last night, NASCAR bad boy Tony Stewart struck and killed racer Kevin Ward, Jr. with his car when Ward was walking on the track. Ward was apparently attempting to confront Stewart on foot after Stewart knocked him off the race course in a particularly tight turn. You can see the incident in the video below– but be warned that it’s graphic and potentially NSFW…
According to The Sporting News’ Bob Pockrass, Stewart may have intentionally tried to hit Ward with his car.
Rich Willis, who was at the track, said he didn’t see exactly what happened but his sister down in Turn 1 did. He saw Stewart and Kevin Ward get into the wreck. “People (who could see it better) said the guy got out of his car and was gesturing angrily at Tony Stewart when Tony Stewart came by during the next lap under yellow,” Willis said in a phone interview. “He approached him and evidently when he was driving by the guy standing on the track gesturing at him, he gunned his engine. “What happened was the back end kicked out and clipped the guy and the guy flew across the track.”
Another eyewitness to the scene, fellow racer Tyler Graves, backed up this version of events.
Tyler Graves, a sprint-car racer and friend of Ward’s, told Sporting News in a phone interview that he was sitting in the Turn 1 grandstands and saw everything that happened. “Tony pinched him into the frontstretch wall, a racing thing,” Graves said. “The right rear tire went down, he spun on the exit of (Turn) 2. They threw the caution and everything was toned down. Kevin got out of his car. … He was throwing his arms up all over the place at Tony for most of the corner. “I know Tony could see him. I know how you can see out of these cars. When Tony got close to him, he hit the throttle. When you hit a throttle on a sprint car, the car sets sideways. It set sideways, the right rear tire hit Kevin, Kevin was sucked underneath and was stuck under it for a second or two and then it threw him about 50 yards.”
Surprisingly, the racing community seemed outraged that Stewart was scratched from his start today at Watkins Glen. Stewart’s manager told USA Today that it would be “business as usual” for Stewart today, but the same publication is also now reporting that Stewart has opted not to race today. Stewart also released the following statement.
“There aren’t words to describe the sadness I feel about the accident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr. It’s a very emotional time for all involved, and it is the reason I’ve decided not to participate in today’s race at Watkins Glen. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and everyone affected by this tragedy.”
Whether it was intentional or not remains to be seen, and we may likely never know. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Kevin Ward, Jr. today.