NASCAR’s Tony Stewart hits, kills rival driver on N.Y. track

Tony Stewart
NASCAR driver Tony Stewart.
(AJ Mast / Associated Press)

A race car driver was killed Saturday night when he was hit while on foot by NASCAR driver Tony Stewart during a Canandaigua Motorsports Park event in New York.

Amateur video of the incident shows racer Kevin Ward Jr. stepping toward Stewart’s car at the Lucas Oil SuperSprint feature race after it appears Stewart cut off his driving line and forced him into the wall, causing him to spin out.

In a matter of moments, Stewart’s car hits Ward and drags him several feet before Ward slides another 50 feet along the track. People in the audience can be heard screaming in horror at the incident. 

A witness told the Associated Press that it appeared Ward was trying to confront Stewart, the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion. A video showed Ward standing to the right of Stewart’s familiar No. 14 car, which seemed to kick out from the rear and hit him.


“The next thing I could see, I didn’t see (the other driver) anymore,” witness Michael Messerly said. “It just seemed like he was suddenly gone.”

Ward, 20, was pronounced dead at F.F. Thompson Hospital at 11:15 p.m., according to the Ontario County Sheriff’s Office.

The incident happened around 10:30 p.m. at the exit for turn 2 during lap 14 of the 25-lap event, according to the sheriff’s office. 

Stewart, 43, has been “fully cooperative” with the investigation, sheriff’s officials said. The Associated Press reported that according to Sheriff Philip Povero, the investigation is not criminal.


Messerly, the spectator, said Saturday’s crash appeared to be the result of “a number of bad decisions” and not “any intent on Tony Stewart’s part.”

Ambulances, fire trucks and police arrived within moments, Messerly said. Fans filed out in stunned silence, he said.

Ward’s website said he began racing go-karts in 1998 at age 4, but didn’t start driving sprint cars until 2010. The 20-year-old from Port Leyden, New York, was Empire Super Sprint rookie of the year in 2012 and this year was his fifth season racing the Empire Super Sprints.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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