Tony Stewart, three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, hit and killed fellow driver Kevin Ward Jr. after an on-track altercation sent the 20-year-old Ward into the wall, leaving him out of the race. According to witnesses and video recorded from the stands, Ward exited his car, throwing his hands up in frustration, and walked toward Stewart as he came back around the track under the caution flag. Stewart's car came into contact with Ward, who was sucked under Stewart's car before being thrown several meters back toward the wall. Ward was pronounced dead on arrival at a nearby hospital.

Stewart had been scheduled to drive today in a NASCAR race at Watkins Glen, but Stewart-Haas racing, the team that Stewart races for and is co-owner of, has issued a statement saying he will sit out of the race, with Regan Smith taking over in the No. 14 car.

The Ontario County (N.Y.) Sheriff's Office issued a statement saying that Stewart is fully cooperating with the investigation, and has not been placed under arrest. The Sheriff's Office has reportedly asked witnesses with any amateur video to come forward, apparently in an effort to help shed light on the incident.

Several videos of the incident have been uploaded to YouTube. We have embedded one below in an effort to shed light on what happened. Please be advised that the footage is graphic, so be sure you want to see a racer losing his life before choosing to watch. We have also included footage of the Sheriff's press conference.




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  • 133 Comments
      jonnybimmer
      • 4 Months Ago

      Any fatality is a sad situation, but Ward certainly didn't help preventing his. If the story read "idiot gets hit by car after walking onto live race track" people would correctly blame the idiot, so what makes Ward an exception? Could Stewart have better prevented it? Perhaps, but in the end it was Ward who was responsible for placing himself in such an unfortunate position. 

        SloopJohnB
        • 4 Months Ago
        @jonnybimmer

        It is a misleading headline designed to draw clicks.

          dukeisduke
          • 4 Months Ago
          @SloopJohnB

          Agreed.  What altercation?  Sure, Ward was mad, and walked out into the middle of the track, but Stewart never came out of his car, and they didn't meet face-to-face.  I'm sorry about Ward's death, but walking in the middle of a dirt track during a race is not a good idea.  Ward was only 20, and his lack of experience and poor judgment got him killed.

          gtv4rudy
          • 4 Months Ago
          @SloopJohnB

          I guess it's ok to kill a driver standing on the side of the road going by all the readers here. People are in total denial.

          m3laszlo
          • 4 Months Ago
          @SloopJohnB

          I agree. Jeremy Korzeniewski chose to slander.  He had plenty of time to think about his headline.

          If Stewart loses one sponsor, he can sue Autoblog.

        MotionDesigner
        • 4 Months Ago
        @jonnybimmer

        Nobody is denying the idiocy of the kid walking onto the track. But his stupidity shouldn't warrant instant death. There was a caution light and all the cars were going slow and avoided the kid. But Stewart had ideas of scaring the kid by buzzing past him, but instead hit him which resulted in the kid's death. Did he intentionally try to murder the kid? I highly doubt it. But he DID try to give him a buzz, which lead to the fatal accident. The kid was stupid, no doubt. But Stewart was baited into playing along with his antics when he should've (and Could've) simply avoided him. The cars DO have steering wheels and brakes. There's also no proof the lighting was dark. The video was shot by a spectator from what appears to be a cellphone cam or some other low quality recording device. Plus the kid had reflectors all over his suit, so the "black suit" theory doesn't fly either. Simply put, there's no reason to think Stewart did not have control over his car and didn't see the kid in the track. He wanted to embarrass the kid but ended up killing him instead.

          Dustin Long
          • 4 Months Ago
          @MotionDesigner

          Its unfortunate that you are blatantly assuming Stewart was trying to do anything. We weren't in Tony's seat, and couldn't possibly know what he was thinking or trying to do. As you stated, the video was shot at a bad angle, and with low quality. You cant fault people for using the video as there proof, then turn around later and use the same video for your proof.

          wabbit62
          • 4 Months Ago
          @MotionDesigner

          IF Kevin Ward Jr would of followed proper safety he would of been in his car awaiting the tow truck as he should have been. These type of cars cannot 'stop on a dime' or turn tightly. They run on wet tracks and slide around corners so they were fighting for the straight away, a common thing with these cars. The car before Stewart even had to swerve to miss him and if you listen you will hear that Stewart locks the brakes but Ward steps towards the car, a very stupid move. I am by no means a Stewart fan but this is not his fault. It is a tragic accident that this young man lost his life but simply that ... an accident.


          MotionDesigner
          • 4 Months Ago
          @MotionDesigner

          @Dustin Long

          It's unfortunate that you and hordes of others are blatantly assuming Stewart mysteriously became paralyzed, lost all control of his body movements, all while at the same time his car took a life of its own and steered its way toward the kid, while countless other cars and drivers had no problem avoiding him during the slow caution flag. Because it's not like Stewart has a penchant for being a hothead himself. 

          Re your video statement, there is no proof in that video that shows Stewart had "no control" of his car or that he could not avoid hitting the kid. The only sure thing is that it was of poor quality which nullifies peoples' excuse that the track wasn't lit well enough. 

          It's also worth noting that of all the cars that passed by and were able to avoid hitting the kid, it just so happened that it was Tony Stewart's car that could not avoid hitting him for some reason? The same Tony Stewart that was involved in bumping him out of the race a lap earlier, causing the kid to get angry and bait Stewart into an altercation? That's quite a coincidence, wouldn't you say? 

          And lastly -- because I know people are going to try to use this excuse -- yes, the kid was an idiot and he was definitely trying to wave Stewart down while standing dangerously in the middle of the track like a moron, but he did NOT wontonly jump in front of Stewart's car as he passed by as if he wanted to commit suicide. Just face it. Stewart was baited into the altercation caused by Ward Jr., and instead of buzzing him like he intended to, he accidentally killed him. Stewart was capable of avoiding the kid, but he simply chose to play along instead.

          ayeco
          • 4 Months Ago
          @MotionDesigner
          BTW, reflectors only work if you have a light source near your perspective. Maybe there was, maybe there wasn't. 
          ufgrat
          • 4 Months Ago
          @MotionDesigner

          We know Tony Stewart's vehicle hit another car (Ward's, in this case), so obviously, Stewart's car was in perfect condition.  We also know dirt is an ideal medium for racing, because of the high levels of grip it offers.

          No, wait-- We don't know that.  We don't know what condition Stewart's suspension was in after the initial contact, we don't know what level of grip Stewart had, we don't know what kind of throttle position was in use.  We do know that someone walked out in the middle of a track, at night, under questionable lighting, wearing a dark suit.  

          We believe Stewart's car fishtailed, but whether that was in an effort to "buzz" Ward, or avoid him, we don't know, because none of us are Tony Stewart.

          You're accusing someone of vehicular homicide, and you're doing it in writing.  You might want to be careful about that, because freedom of speech doesn't include freedom to libel.

          Ultimately, there is no excuse for being on-track in the middle of the race.  Period.

        pwr2lbs
        • 4 Months Ago
        @jonnybimmer

        Stop making sense! ;)

        SetNick
        • 4 Months Ago
        @jonnybimmer

        Not trying to defend the writer, as I see your point, but maybe he was referring to an altercation between the two vehicles...not what we race fans would consider a "real altercation."  Either way, a simple edit would clear up the confusion.

        Valerie Downey
        • 4 Months Ago
        @jonnybimmer

        bull,  stewart aimed  reved his car and killed him  listen for yourself


      Joseph
      • 4 Months Ago

      Not meant to be callus. But could we please change the headline from "Stewart kills driver" to "Driver dies attempting to assault moving vehicle while out of car, unprotected, on foot". Again not callus but would this be national news if it was not Stewart? Just a local driver on local driver incident? Unfortunately, no, is the answer. But hey, lets sell some advertizing time by using Stewart's name.

      Had Mr. Ward stayed in his car there would be no event as is now. Perhaps we can see on a national or even world level a rule that says unless the vehicle is on fire, the driver has to stay in the car until assisted by track personnel and any attempt of a driver to advance towards a moving vehicle on the track will result in being benched, possibly even barred from the track and/or racing altogether.

      The only winners in this are the advertizes and the mental health professionals that everyone involved will need to talk with. 


        1454
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Joseph

        Thank you for your rational comment. There seem to be very few of them here. If you are dumb enough to chase an open wheel car on foot, be prepared to accept the consequences. 

        SoffMouf
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Joseph

        Whew, for a second there I thought the entire web had gone mad, so thanks for being rational.  I can't find a single headline that describes what I saw in the video I've watched almost 50 times now.  Ward was throwing a tantrum and offered himself up for a darwin award.  I feel awful for his family and friends, but jeez people.

        SloopJohnB
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Joseph

         any attempt of a driver to advance towards a moving vehicle on the track will result in being benched, possibly even barred from the track and/or racing altogether

        Ward in effect has been barred from the track and/or racing altogether...

          gtv4rudy
          • 4 Months Ago *Edited*
          @SloopJohnB

          I just don't understand why everybody is blaming the victim here, Kevin Ward Jr. As you can see it's a yellow and everybody is slowed on the bottom of the track as Ward is waiting for Stewart to come around but as Stewart approaches Ward, he accerlerates extremely close to Ward as to intimidate him with his car but striking him dead instead. Many race drivers get out of their race cars and then flip the bird to a driver, does that make it right to run a driver over ?

        Esteban Rápido
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Joseph

        Stewart has been running out onto tracks to throw a helmet or point at another driver longer then Ward's short life.  It is clear that Stewart gunned it before hitting him.  Tony Stewart has been to anger management.  People don't change.  He need to stay out of racecars all together.

          Lynchenstein
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Esteban Rápido

          Yup. I'd love to see some justice come to Stewart for all the really stupid and dangerous things he has done. The fact that he is continued to race the same weekend shows that he has no remorse for what happened (whether it was his fault or not) and shows that he simply has no class whatsoever.

          I obviously have no idea if he intentionally hit him, intended to scare him or spray mud on him, or even if he was just minding his own business and the idiot ran in front of his car (because you ARE an idiot if you do that, especially given Stewart's history). Stewart's past actions leads me to a suspicion, but that means nothing.

          You run over a guy and kill him and you're cool with it and just keep on racing like nothing happened? You're sick.

          Farzad
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Esteban Rápido

          The race was under caution, and everyone including stewart had backed off the pace significantly.  There was no need for stewart to gun the engine like he did as he passing ward, other than to rotate the car outward at that point... looked pretty intentional to me.  He may not have intended to kill ward, but he certainly intended to assault him.

          wabbit62
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Esteban Rápido

          With this type of thought IF you were mad at work and left to go home getting into an accident because someone walked out between two cars then you are guilty of trying to kill them. He took his safety into his own hands when he violated safety procedures by getting out of his car and walking down into the traffic.


          Ryth
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Esteban Rápido

          It's possible Stewart gunned it to get away from Ward quickly before Ward possibly tried to assault Stewart's car or even try to jump on it under caution.

        Hernan
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Joseph

        Listen to the engine. He guns it.

          wabbit62
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Hernan

          kinda hard to gun a sprint car without spinning the tires. Didn't spin in the numerous videos I watched.


        Dustin Long
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Joseph

        You know whats funny, a lot of people type in Stewart kills another driver in Google, and then they get to a site that says Stewart kills another driver, and then complain the headlines false.

      m3laszlo
      • 4 Months Ago

      Don't Chase After Cars!!!!

      Graham
      • 4 Months Ago

      And the Darwin Award goes to...

      OptimusPrimeRib
      • 4 Months Ago

      Headline should be "Guy gets out of car and tries to headbutt on coming car. On coming car wins." 

      Donny Hoover
      • 4 Months Ago

      Who knows what Stewart did, or didn't do but the bottom line is the other moron got out of his car and literally played in traffic. He should get a Darwin Award and nothing more should come of it. It's a good thing he didn't cause another accident and get someone else hurt.

        chevysrfaster55
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Donny Hoover

        I have seen Tony do the same thing and he threw his helmet  at another car too. He's a hot head hope he goes to prison for a long time. He has been a hot head for so long that no one will beleive he did not sweerve at the guy, I am sure he did not mean to hit him but he tried to scare him. Why is a big time nascar guy playing with young people beniethhis skill level. Guess if you suck at nascar might as well be a pee wee. Not coming back to this post so I don't care if you argree or not.

          Jeff Helgeson
          • 4 Months Ago
          @chevysrfaster55

          I'm with you. To believe that this veteran driver suddenly forgot how the steering wheel works is just idiotic. It's manslaughter at the very least, and numerous spectators agree that Stewart did not even try to drive around Ward, and in fact a lot of people watched and got the impression Stewart quite intentionally got close.

           Pisses me off that so many people are rushing to this guys defense when it's a DEATH, that had he chosen to, he could have easily prevented himself. This "rubbing is racing" bullshit goes out the window when something like this happens. This kid died and he's being vilified by everybody, as though Stewart played no part whatsoever in the incident. 

          Whatever, if there's any justice, the pricks career is done and I say good riddance. If he can't figure out how to steer the car when there's a human body approaching directly to him, he shouldn't be driving professionally anyway. 


          ffelix422
          • 4 Months Ago
          @chevysrfaster55

          Tony's skill level has nothing to do with this.

          That 20 year old walked into traffic!

          How many times have you told your children not to do that?

          truefanofcountry
          • 4 Months Ago
          @chevysrfaster55

          Tony got out of his car when track officials were surrounding him.  Never solo.

          wabbit62
          • 4 Months Ago
          @chevysrfaster55

          Racing beneath his level?? This is where Stewart got his start and he races because he loves it. I fail to see where being a hothead is against the law and to go to prison you have to break a law. Ward broke the track safety by exiting his car and reminded the other drivers why this rule is in the book. Be like all the other drivers and deal with it in the pits.

          stepside98xlt
          • 4 Months Ago
          @chevysrfaster55

          The video shows stewart steering toward the guy and if you did that to someone standing beside the road you would/should be charged with manslaughter at the least! Again...stewart drove toward the guy.video does not lie...

        Valerie Downey
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Donny Hoover

        all who watch and listen to the video should know he aimed and reved his engine and fishtailed right over the guy


      scott3
      • 4 Months Ago

      Oh please Jail? We have drunk drivers today that get no jail time.

      This was nothing but a racing accident. You had one guy who was mad in a black driver suit on a dim track walking into the line of cars upset and not thinking clearly. Then you had a second guy who hit the gas to get buy him only to catch him with a tire that is about 4 feet wide.

       

      This is why track workers around the world grab drivers from F1 to the grassroots to prevent accidents like this. It is amazing it does not happen more often.

      I get so tired of people wanting people in jail for poor judgment on things that bad but not criminal.

      Note in interviews the friend and people who knew the victim here call it an accident and nothing more.

      Also if you see the video the car did not go right and the rear went to the left so if anything he may have been trying to get away from him. The car ahead of him had to swerve just before Stewarts. did.

       

      Prays to the family and Stewart as he now has to live with what happened.

        Mario Bonilla
        • 4 Months Ago
        @scott3

        If Juan Montoya, kills Stewart in same way, I couldn't imagine the hate

          Devonblue4u
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Mario Bonilla

          +1. Anybody who believes that if the situation was switched, if Ward was the driver and not the victim, they wouldn't go after him with pitchforks on the spot is living in a dream world.

          scott3
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Mario Bonilla


          The hate would only be from idiots that have no clue like you if you feel this way.

          Though Juan is the only guy I had seen that hit a track dryer that I have seen.

          I am just kidding as Juan like Tony are both good guys and hell of a pair of drivers and both know this was an unfortunate accident.

          Again this is a case of personal responsibility and that if you charge a running race car with large open wheels you have a greater share of the responsibility than anyone else. Emotions run high but you have to keep them in check or you can die because of them.

          If this had happened with a no name driver hitting him we would not even be discussing this.

          Anyone stupid enough to think Tony did it on purpose needs their head examined.

          This is another case where the media will stir this up to something it really is not. This was not like the Ramming case in NC where the drivers rammed and rammed again each other.

      Brett Padgett
      • 4 Months Ago

      Your headline for this story is at the very least ignorant but to me more like slander. It was a freaking accident.  The was no "altercation".  Stewart most likely didn't even know Ward spun.  

        m3laszlo
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Brett Padgett

        I agree, the headline chosen by Jeremy Korzienewski is very easily considered  slander

          RetrogradE
          • 4 Months Ago
          @m3laszlo

          Liable, not slander. Liable is written, slander is spoken.

      WJK
      • 4 Months Ago *Edited*

      "Road raging race car driver runs into Tony Stuart's path and is struck and killed" - There, fixed your completely misleading title Autofarce.

      Kelly Hatcher
      • 4 Months Ago
       Very unfortunate accident.  No driver should ever get out and walk towards the racing.  Sad...   Not intentional by Tony. Sadly his irrational anger and choice to get in traffic caused his death.      Very sad.
      dinobot666
      • 4 Months Ago

      This is going to send shock waves through the entire racing community at nearly every level. I understand that drivers get frustrated in the heat of the moment like this, but an on track confrontation such as the one illustrated in this tragic death didn't resolve anything.


      My guess is that most tracks will implement some kind of draconian and ban any kind of driver getting out of his car and onto a hot track to confront somebody. I'm sure insurance companies will enforce the issue as well.

      mylexicon
      • 4 Months Ago
      The person shooting the footage seems convinced that Stewart ran into the guy, not vice versa, which is Stewart's biggest problem, at this point.

      This will get ugly. Even if no criminal charges are filed, the family will still sue the series, NASCAR, Stewart-Haas, and Stewart himself. It will settle out of court for lots of money, and regardless of court findings, a group of people will always consider Stewart to be a murderer.

      In general, oval track racing does not seem to take seriously people walking around on the track after an accident. It should be grounds for temporary loss of racing license, expulsion, or financially debilitating fines. This is not the first time a hot-headed racer has nearly gotten himself or someone else killed.
        WJK
        • 4 Months Ago
        @mylexicon

        "The person shooting the footage seems convinced that Stewart ran into the guy, not vice versa, which is Stewart's biggest problem, at this point." - If that was how guilt was assessed, this would be a very sad country.

         

        Trobbins88
        • 4 Months Ago
        @mylexicon

        NASCAR had nothing to do with this...Tony Stewart Racing was the company fielding Tony's cars.  I am not sure if TSR is a part of Stewart-Haas Racing, I believe that TSR is Tony's private company.

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