Driver Kevin Ward, Jr. Dies After Being Run Over by Tony Stewart
Race car driver Kevin Ward, Jr. was killed last night after an on-track incident with Tony Stewart that resulted in the three-time former Sprint Cup Champion hitting Ward with his car.
Both were participating in a sprint car dirt race at Canandaigua Motorsports Park when Stewart squeezed Ward into the frontstretch wall and spun him out. Ward then emerged from his car and bafflingly ran out into the middle of the track, pointing in Stewart’s direction. Stewart’s car collided with Ward, dragging him beneath its wheels and throwing him several feet up the track.
Deadspin has the video of this accident, but be warned that it is difficult to watch.
According to Ontario County (New York) Sheriff Phil Povero, Ward was pronounced “dead on arrival” at an area hospital. He was 20 years old.
Sheriff Povero’s press conference from late this morning can be seen below:
Stewart was scheduled to run in today’s race at Watkins Glen, with Stewart-Haas Racing Team Manager Greg Zipadelli telling media that they’re “business as usual today,” but it was ultimately decided that Stewart should not participate. Sheriff Povero states that Stewart has been fully cooperative in their investigation. As of yet, no charges have been filed.
Tragically, this entire incident could have been avoided altogether. Conflicts are nothing new in the sport of racing, and Stewart himself is well-known for being ill-tempered. Much of the conversation spinning out of Kevin Ward’s death is going to concern the fact that Stewart could clearly be heard gunning his engine just before colliding with Ward.
It is not plausible to say that Tony Stewart intended to kill Kevin Ward, Jr., but it’s not impossible that he did not make the decision to hit Ward. Even under the lights, Ward would have been difficult to miss standing on the track, especially given that he was directly in Stewart’s eyeline. That Stewart gunned it when he could have attempted to brake is going to raise a lot of questions. Hopefully, Stewart will have answers.
What can be said with indefatigable certainty is that Kevin Ward, Jr. should not have left his car to stand on a race track. It’s a significant mistake to underestimate the danger of a car flying around a track at more than 100 mph, regardless of the setting or the level of professional experience in and around cars.
We’ll have more on this story as it develops.