A sprint car racing incident involving NASCAR driver Tony Stewart left another driver with fatal injuries at an upstate New York dirt track Saturday night.
Ontario County (New York) Sheriff Philip C. Povero confirmed the news early Sunday morning to local news reporters, saying the other driver was declared dead on his arrival to a local hospital. The sheriff identified Stewart but did not issue the other driver’s name as family members were being notified.
The tragic incident was captured on a fan video. (Warning: The footage is graphic and the fans let loose with a stream of expletives after the incident.
This video has been age-restricted based on Youtube community.
The YouTube video of the incident showed Stewart racing to the low side of Kevin Ward Jr., of Port Leyden, New York. The two cars made contact, sending Ward’s No. 13 car bounding off the Turn 2 wall.
After Ward spun to a stop with a flat right-rear tire, the driver quickly dismounted to confront Stewart, walking out onto the track and pointing at the veteran driver’s No. 14. Stewart’s car revved and fishtailed, catching Ward with its right-rear tire and sending him a sizable distance from the crash site.
Ward was prone and motionless on the track as safety workers came to his aid. Povero said that, “people that witnessed it were horrified. They were extremely shocked.”
Povero said that both Stewart and track officials were “cooperating fully” with the ongoing investigation. According to the sheriff, no charges are pending. He said Stewart “is very upset and confirmed his continuing cooperation.”
Watch Ontario County (New York) Sheriff Philip C. Povero’s news conference below:
A Stewart-Haas Racing spokesperson issued the following statement that read: “A tragic accident took place last night during a sprint car race in which Tony Stewart was participating. Tony was unhurt, but a fellow competitor lost his life. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. We’re still attempting to sort through all the details and we appreciate your understanding during this difficult time.”
Stewart, a three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, lined up 12th in the 22-car field for the 25-lap “A” Main for the touring Empire Super Sprints series. Ward started sixth. First place paid $1,500.
Canandaigua Motorsports Park, a half-mile dirt track on the Ontario County Fairgrounds, said through its Facebook page that the remainder of Saturday night’s program had been canceled. The track is approximately 50 miles north-northwest of Watkins Glen International, site of Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at The Glen for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Stewart returned to sprint-car racing July 18 at Tri-City Motor Speedway in Auburn, Michigan with a win nearly a year after a season-ending crash at Southern Iowa Speedway on Aug. 5 severely injured his right leg, which required multiple surgeries. (nascar)