During a late-night, 20-lap Sprint race at a dirt track in Canandaigua N.Y., 20-year-old driver Kevin Ward Jr was run over and lost his life. This happened after Ward slammed into a wall in his #13 car, got out of his vehicle, and was subsequently hit by fellow driver Tony Stewart.
Ward had been clipped by fellow driver Tony Stewart during the race, and Ward was none to happy about the incident. Ward then got out of his car to let Tony know how angry he was about the clipping. As Ward walked onto the race-car filled dirt track and approached Tony's vehicle which was making his way back around to Ward, Stewart's vehicle hit Ward and killed him. It is extremely unclear if it was intentional from the footage captured and uploaded onto Youtube
. And I must warn you, this video is graphic in nature and should be viewed with caution.
Also, there's this statement
that explains the incident:
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.
"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 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."
It must be said that Tony Stewart has a terrible reputation within the NASCAR league and community
. He is known as a hot head, to put it nicely. Now, of course, that does not incriminate Stewart in any way. In fact, the police investigating the incident spoke with Tony afterwards, and see no reason to pursue criminal charges at this point, saying that Tony is "fully cooperative" and "very upset". Sheriff Povero residing over the incident said, "He [Tony] was visibly shaken by this accident." AP also reports that Sheriff Povero said that while Stewart is being investigated, the investigation is not criminal and that no charges have been filed.
To watch the video though does tell a different story. Not one where Tony Stewart is fully at fault. Also not one where Kevin Ward Jr was completely innocent. Instead, what you see is Ward endangering himself by walking onto a race track at night with dark clothes on, appearing to show little regard for his own safety. And then you see Tony Stewart (who perpetrated the incident that led Ward into the wall to begin with) unable to avoid the lone man on the track, when the first driver that approached Ward was able to swerve.
Either way, it was a tragic incident and I am sure that neither dreamed their frustration in the moment would have ever amounted to what took place. And I am sure that to do it all over again, cooler heads would have most certainly prevailed.