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In this April 11, 2014, photo, Tony Stewart stands in t... In this April 11, 2014, photo, Tony Stewart stands in the garage during practice for a NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race at Darlington Speedway in Darlington, S.C. Authorities are investigating a serious crash that injured one person Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, at a New York dirt track where Stewart was racing on the eve of a NASCAR race. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)
NASCAR driver Tony Stewart struck and killed a sprint car driver who had climbed from his car and was on the track trying to confront Stewart during a race in upstate New York on Saturday night.

Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero said his department's investigation is not criminal and that Stewart was "fully cooperative" and appeared "very upset" over what had happened.

"He was visibly shaken by this accident," Povero said.

A video of the crash at Canandaigua Motorsports Park showed driver Kevin Ward Jr., wearing a black helmet and firesuit on a dimly lit track, walking toward Stewart's car before being hit and hurtled 50 feet.

Povero said 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 said.

Povero said the driver was pronounced dead Saturday night at a Canandaigua hospital. Stewart was unhurt.

A witness said it appeared Ward was trying to confront Stewart, the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion. The 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."

Povero said the 43-year-old Stewart, a frequent competitor at local sprint car events, was questioned and released. The sheriff asked for people who recorded video of the crash to provide copies for investigators to review.

A spokesman for Stewart's racing team called Ward's death a "tragic accident."
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends," the spokesman said in a statement. "We're still attempting to sort through all the details."

Stewart's racing team manager Greg Zipadelli said Stewart will race in NASCAR's event Sunday at Watkins Glen, calling the race "business as usual."

The dirt track, about 30 miles southeast of Rochester, canceled the remainder of the race and later posted a message on its Facebook page encouraging fans to "pray for the entire racing community of fans, drivers, and families."

It said a statement on the crash would come later Sunday.

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.

Stewart was involved in a July 2013 accident at Canandaigua 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.

After Saturday's accident, ambulances, fire trucks and police arrived within moments, Messerly said. Fans filed out in stunned silence, he said.

The accident Saturday came almost exactly a year after Stewart suffered a compound fracture to his right leg in a sprint car race in Iowa. The injury cost him the second half of the NASCAR season. Stewart only returned to sprint track racing last month. He didn't return to racing in any form until February when preparation forNASCAR's season-opening Daytona 500 began.

Stewart was a spectator at the Knoxville Nationals in Iowa on Tuesday, the one-year anniversary of the accident, and posted on his Twitter account: "Thank you to everyone that worked so hard to get me back to where I'm at today. It's your life, live it!"

Roughly three hours after Saturday night's accident in New York, Donny Schatz, a sprint car driver for Tony Stewart Racing, won the prestigious Knoxville Nationals in Iowa for an eighth time.

"I was just told there was an incident involving Tony. I don't know to what extent or what's happening," Schatz said.

Stewart is co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, the four-team NASCAR organization that fields cars for Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick. He's struggled a bit this year since returning from his leg injury, and heads into Sunday's race winless on the season and ranked 19th in the standings.

Stewart was scheduled to start 13th on Sunday at Watkins Glen International in south central New York state. He has just five races remaining to either score a win or move inside the top 16 in points to grab a valuable spot inNASCAR's championship race.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Months Ago
      Been to many NASCAR races, drags...etc. doesn't these races follow the same safety procedure's as other races? Many of these cars did another loop, including Stewart...yes Stewart gun the engine and swerved into Ward, raw video shows this.. not saying it was intentional but it does not look good in Stewart's favor and I agree Ward should had stayed in his car. Funny....within seconds all racers stop after he was hit, because you can see the emergency crew was there in seconds....all race car drivers had plenty of time to stop until Ward and his car could go to the pit. Something not right here?
      • 5 Months Ago
      James you are not allowed to have a spotter in sprint cars or mirrors
      • 5 Months Ago
      Horribly sad all the way around.. prayers for the family.
      • 5 Months Ago
      • 5 Months Ago
      they tell you a million times you should not be on the track and its a fine for doing so......this moron decided to walk on the track himself with cars going by........was his own decision that caused his own death....if he would have stayed in the pits he would be alive today
      • 5 Months Ago
      Once that accident occurred, all cars should had did an immediately stop...appears Stewart went around the track again after the accident as well as other cars. No safety measures here..jmo
        • 5 Months Ago
        You have never been or seen a race, have you? A race is NOT RED FLAGGED (stopped) unless the track is blocked. The race was under YELLOW (caution), which means the cars slow. That is was was being done. These are cars. They do not stop the instent the brake is presses, so don't go believing all those stupid brake commercials that are out. Drivers also know you do not exit a car unless it is on fire until emergency cars arrive. The driver not only got out of the car, he started walking in traffice, in a dark driving suit, no reflectors, on a poorly lite dirt track. It was an tragic accident, but one that could have been avoided if he had just stayed in his car.
      • 5 Months Ago
      OK Toney Stewart feels bad OK but what about The other driver? Why no anything on him? Him being dead isn't as important as Mr. Stewart's feeling bad?
        • 5 Months Ago
        "Why no anything on him?" First, is this an actual sentence? Second, can you name any of the other drivers in this race? Third, since you can't name any other drivers, then yes, Tony Stewart is the story of this incident. Is it fair... no. But if Kevin Ward had been killed by a local driver, you wouldn't be commenting on this site, because you would not have read about this incident.
      • 5 Months Ago
      So--is he going to get off Scott free.. b/c he is a NASCAR driver??? WT? He's a killer and has a HOT temper and impulse control.. He needs to be BANNED for LIFE from driving.. in races OR put in jail like any other poor dude would be who is not famous.
        • 5 Months Ago
        you must be stupid ....stewart was in his car....this other driver had no business on the track its his own fault...............its like jumping out of a plane without a parachute and then trying to blame the ground for the death..........his own fault............
        • 5 Months Ago
        You do get that it is the dead guy who was trying to confront him right?
      • 5 Months Ago
      What a mess, two hot heads in the throws of racing The kid walked down 5' too far. Tony probably gave it a touch too much throttle and his rear kicked out just enough to hit the kid and now we have a useless death. A tragedy for all involved.
      • 5 Months Ago
      Not a good time for CONFRONTATION!!!
      • 5 Months Ago
      Who cares!
      • 5 Months Ago
      Before each race, no matter what type or where it is, a drivers meeting is first. You're told not to get out of your race car until all cautions are in effect. No matter what the final verdict is, it would not have happened if the rules were followed. I feel for the family with the loss and I know he will be missed.
        • 5 Months Ago
        I could not agree more. I use to race modified stock back in the 1970's and we always had a meeting befor each race to make sure there were no hostilities between the drivers.
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