by Scott Aberdeen | Top Right Sports
Stunning development from upstate New York late last night.
NASCAR driver Tony Stewart ‘ran over’ a competitor, 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr., during a confrontation at a sprint car race on Saturday night at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in New York. Ward was killed.
In the video below, you can see Ward confronting Stewart on foot after Ward’s car is run into the wall. He is struck, dragged, then thrown a large distance (a shocking 25-50 feet, according to witnesses). According to Ontario County Sheriff Philip C. Povero, Ward was dead on arrival at the hospital.
In the video, shocked fans sob and scream after Stewart runs over another driver and that driver lies motionless on the track while emergency personnel respond. sports lost way too soon.
You can hear the motor rev just before the car hits the driver, who flies about 50 feet.
“People that witnessed it were horrified,” Povero said of the crash, according to AP. “They were extremely shocked.”
Povero said the the 25-lap race was under caution when Ward was struck. Stewart’s car was behind another before he hit Ward.
“The first car swerved to avoid the driver,” Povero told the AP.
The race was cancelled. CMP posted the following to its Facebook page:
Tonight’s racing events were suspended due to an accident. Please hold off on any speculation until we have further information to share.
According to FoxSports, “police are investigating” the incident, and were “seeking” Stewart, although police at the scene described Stewart as “fully cooperative” and appeared “very upset” over what had happened.
Above: The deceased, 20-year old Kevin Ward, Jr.
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.”
Sporting News provided some more details later, around 1:30am:
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.”
According to FoxSports, Graves said he didn’t believe it was intentional:
“You never mean to do something like that,” Graves told Sporting News. “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.“
Michael Messerly, a fan who witnessed the crash, told The Associated Press it appeared Stewart struck the driver as he tried to “speed past” him.
Messerly said the crash appeared to be the result of “a number of bad decisions” and not “any intent on Tony Stewart’s part.”
“Auto racing is a dangerous sport,” he said. “I think it was just an unfortunate set of circumstances that created a tragic situation.”
After the incident, police were dispatched and fans were told to leave the track. The sheriff is asking for people who have video of the crash to contact the office so copies can be obtained for review. The Sheriff also said they are investigating the incident and seeking Stewart for questioning, although “no criminal charges” are being considered at this time.
Stewart was involved in a July 2013 accident at CMP that seriously injured a 19-year-old driver. He later took responsibility for his car making contact with another and triggering the 15-car accident that left Alysha Ruggles with a compression fracture in her back.
We will update with further details on the tragedy on this page as they come in.
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