Former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart hit and killed another driver following an altercation at Canandaigua Motorsports Park according to multiple spectators at the race.
Kevin Ward Jr. approached Stewart’s car following an accident on the track and was hit by Stewart’s car. Ward was then transported by ambulance but was pronounced dead at the arrival of a local hospital.
Stewart was scheduled to start 13th for Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen. He will not be competing in that event. Regan Smith has been called upon to drive his No. 14 Chevrolet SS.
According to Ontario County Sheriff Povero “This is an ongoing investigation of an on-track crash.” No charges pending at this time.”
Povero added (via WROC) that “Mr. Stewart has been fully cooperative… He is very upset and confirmed his continuing cooperation.”
In a statement released Sunday morning, a representative for Stewart says, “our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.” The statement says Stewart’s team is still trying to sort through the details of the accident.
Tyler Graves, a sprint car racer and friend of Ward, relayed the following account of the incident.
“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.”
Graves does not believe Stewart hit Ward intentionally. “Kevin was pissed and he let Tony know. And Tony was trying to give the message back that he wasn’t happy either. He went over the line with it.”