Nascar Star Tony Stewart Kills Driver During Confrontation on Racetrack

The Nascar driver Tony Stewart struck and killed another driver on Saturday night while competing in a dirt track sprint car event at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in Central Square, N.Y.

A graphic video posted on YouTube showed Stewart, a three-time Sprint Cup champion in Nascar, hitting the driver, Kevin Ward Jr., 20, as Ward stood outside his racecar on the track.

Ward and Stewart had bumped cars during an earlier lap, sending Ward’s racecar into an outside wall and prompting a caution flag. Ward then exited his racecar and approached on foot as Stewart’s racecar came around again. As Ward stood on the track and pointed at Stewart, Stewart’s racecar sounded as if it revved its engine then fishtailed, the right tire hitting Ward and dragging him under the car.

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Video contains graphic content and coarse language. Video by Popeye Newsman

Ward was thrown several feet behind the car, and he was later declared dead at F.F. Thompson Hospital.

The death occurred about an hour away from the site of a Sprint Cup race on Sunday at Watkins Glen. Greg Zipadelli, vice president of competition for the Stewart-Haas Racing team, announced on Sunday morning that Stewart would not race in the Sprint Cup event. He was to be replaced by Regan Smith.

Ambulances were on the track after Kevin Ward Jr. was struck by Tony Stewart’s car Saturday night. Credit Logan Messerly/Logan Messerly, via Associated Press

Stewart was reportedly cooperating with an investigation by the Ontario County sheriff’s office, but was allowed to return to Watkins Glen, where he had been preparing to race on Sunday. Zipadelli earlier told USA Today it would be “business as usual” at the track and that Stewart would compete. That was before he announced that Stewart would be replaced by Smith in the No. 14 car for the race on Sunday.

A witness to the crash, the sprint car driver Tyler Graves, told The Sporting News that Stewart’s action led to the fatality.

“I know Tony could see him,” Graves said. “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.”

Stewart has moonlighted racing in sprint cars for years. Last year, he sustained a broken leg while racing in a sprint car event and missed much of the second half of the Nascar Sprint Cup season. He returned this year to the series in February and was back racing in sprint cars again within the last month.

Although it seemed Ward had put himself at grave risk by walking onto the track while racecars were on it, that kind of action is not unheard-of in racing. Drivers will often try to confront other drivers directly on the track. In 2012, Stewart walked onto the track at Bristol Motor Speedway after a wreck with Matt Kenseth and threw his helmet at Kenseth’s racecar in disgust.

Stewart has a long history of confrontations with drivers, news media and officials in Nascar, and was once fined by his former race sponsor, Home Depot, and reportedly sought anger-management counseling after an altercation with a reporter early in his career.

Read More: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/11/sports/autoracing/tony-stewart-kills-driver-during-confrontation-on-racetrack.html?_r=0

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