Tony Stewart hit and killed driver Kevin Ward Jr., who walked toward Stewart's sprint car Saturday night after the two had an altercation at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park, according to authorities, witnesses and video of the tragedy.
Stewart was racing a sprint car in the Empire Super Sprints series at the half-mile dirt track in upstate New York, about an hour from Watkins Glen International, site of this weekend’s Cup race. The Ontario County (N.Y.) Sheriff’s Office said that Ward was declared dead 45 minutes after the accident upon arrival at Thompson Hospital.
"Mr. Stewart has cooperated with the investigation, which is ongoing," the release stated.
Stewart was not arrested and the sheriff told reporters that the driver had returned to Watkins Glen. The case will be handled by the district attorney.
Tyler Graves, a sprint-car racer and friend of Ward's, told Sporting News in a phone interview, "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."
Our sister site RaceRap.com has already had some comments on what will probably be a heated topic. Bryan Bowyer posted, "Sad situation for all involved, especially the deceased's family.
Racing is an extremely dangerous and emotional sport.
Much will be written and spoken about this tragedy over the next several days. The incident will be investigated by law enforcement and racing experts, let them do their jobs."
Other post just exclaim sorrow..."My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of this tragedy." Said Kevin Mckinnon, known online as KOST.