The case dates back one year from today. The incident occurred on August 9, 2014, when Stewart and Ward were competing in a sprint-car race (not to be confused with the NASCAR Sprint Cup in which Stewart also competes) on the half-mile dirt oval track at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in Ontario County, NY. After spinning out into the wall, Ward got out of his car on an active or "hot" track – albeit under a yellow caution flag – and was seen charging towards Stewart, whose car was still traveling at speed. Though several other drivers managed to avoid Ward as he stood on the track, Stewart struck his competitor with his right rear tire, sending Ward's body flying 25 feet down the track. Ward was subsequently pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
Stewart was described at the time as deeply shaken by the incident and fully cooperative with authorities. Due in part to Ward's reckless actions and the marijuana found in his system at the time of the incident, Stewart was not charged criminally in relation to the incident. However he may now face civil charges. The lawsuit alleges that "Stewart acted with disregard for Ward's life and safety by driving his vehicle in a manner that would terrorize Ward and thereafter strike, severely injure and kill Ward."