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Ton Stewart hits/kills driver on track

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Ton Stewart hits/kills driver on track

Postby *YNC* Aloha Nole » August 10th, 2014, 4:30 am

Tony Stewart hits, kills walking driver on sprint-car track

By Bob Pockrass @bobpockrass
Last updated on August 10, 2014 4:08am EDT

Tony Stewart hit and killed driver Kevin Ward Jr., who walked toward Stewart's sprint car Saturday night after the two had an altercation at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park, according to authorities, witnesses and video of the tragedy.

The three-time Cup champion was racing a sprint car in the Empire Super Sprints series at the half-mile dirt track in upstate New York, about an hour from Watkins Glen International, site of this weekend’s Cup race.

The Ontario County (N.Y.) Sheriff’s Office confirmed in a news release that the victim, whom it did not name, was declared dead 45 minutes after the accident upon arrival at Thompson Hospital.

"Mr. Stewart has cooperated with the investigation, which is ongoing," the release stated.

Stewart was not arrested and the sheriff told reporters that the driver had returned to Watkins Glen. The case will be handled by the district attorney.

Tyler Graves, a sprint-car racer and friend of Ward's, told Sporting News in a phone interview that he was sitting in the Turn 1 grandstands and saw everything that happened.

"Tony pinched him into the frontstretch wall, a racing thing," Graves said. "The right rear tire went down, he spun on the exit of (Turn) 2. They threw the caution and everything was toned down. Kevin got out of his car. … He was throwing his arms up all over the place at Tony for most of the corner.

"I know Tony could see him. I know how you can see out of these cars. When Tony got close to him, he hit the throttle. When you hit a throttle on a sprint car, the car sets sideways. It set sideways, the right rear tire hit Kevin, Kevin was sucked underneath and was stuck under it for a second or two and then it threw him about 50 yards."

Rich Willis, who was at the track, said he didn’t see exactly what happened but his sister down in Turn 1 did. His description was similar to that of Graves and video of the tragedy showed Stewart's car hitting Ward.

“People (who could see it better) said the guy got out of his car and was gesturing angrily at Tony Stewart when Tony Stewart came by during the next lap under yellow,” Willis said in a phone interview. “He approached him and evidently when he was driving by the guy standing on the track gesturing at him, he gunned his engine.

“What happened was the back end kicked out and clipped the guy and the guy flew across the track.”

Graves said it appeared to him that Stewart swerved before gunning the engine but he did not believe it was intentional.

"You never mean to do something like that," Graves said. "Kevin was pissed and he let Tony know. And Tony was trying to give the message back that he wasn't happy either. He went over the line with it."

Graves got emotional as he talked about Ward, whom he raced against last week in the Patriot Sprint Tour. In that race Graves' car broke, he got upside down and Ward hit him.

"The first thing Kevin said to me (last week after the accident) was, 'I'm glad you're OK,'" Graves said. "He hit me full throttle. I've been friends with Kevin for the last several years. … He's a clean racer."

The sheriff's department asked for any amateur video be sent to it for use during the investigation. It said the race was on lap 14 of a 25-lap event.

"The driver of the car that spun, exited the race car and walked down the track onto the racing surface," the sheriff's news release states. "Two racecars traveling in tandem approached as the driver continued down the track, gesturing to the two approaching cars.

"The first car swerved to avoid the driver out on the track. The second car, operated by Tony Stewart, struck the driver."

The 43-year-old Stewart has 48 Cup wins in 542 career starts. Stewart, who missed the last 15 Cup races last year after breaking his leg in two places in a sprint-car crash, is winless and 19th in the standings this year.

There was no immediate word whether Stewart-Haas Racing, co-owned by Stewart, would field Stewart’s car Sunday at Watkins Glen. With him released without being arrested, Stewart could race at The Glen, or the team could opt to put a different driver in the car or withdraw. Stewart is scheduled to start 13th .

"A tragic accident took place last night during a sprint car race in which Tony Stewart was participating," an SHR spokesman said in a statement. "Tony was unhurt, but a fellow competitor lost his life. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends."

Graves, who described himself as a huge Stewart fan until Saturday night, doesn't think Stewart should be racing.

"Tony Stewart needs to be put in prison for life," Graves said.

http://www.sportingnews.com/nascar/stor ... kevin-ward
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Re: Ton Stewart hits/kills driver on track

Postby irishmark » August 11th, 2014, 1:24 pm

"I don't care if Pat Terrell is so wide open, you could walk up and hand him the football! Take the sack"!

Lou Holtz to Tony Rice.

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Re: Ton Stewart hits/kills driver on track

Postby Domer » August 18th, 2014, 8:04 am

Is there any news about this or is it considered a closed case?
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Re: Ton Stewart hits/kills driver on track

Postby *YNC* Aloha Nole » August 18th, 2014, 9:59 am

Last I heard was that it is still under investigation.
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Re: Ton Stewart hits/kills driver on track

Postby *YNC* Aloha Nole » September 16th, 2014, 7:03 pm

Tony Stewart case sent to grand jury

Updated: September 16, 2014, 3:43 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

A grand jury will decide whether NASCAR driver Tony Stewart will be charged in the August death of Kevin Ward Jr., a fellow driver at a sprint car race in upstate New York, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo said he made the decision to present the case to a grand jury after reviewing evidence collected by county sheriff's investigators.

Tantillo could have determined there was not enough evidence to support charges and dropped the case, but instead announced his decision more than a month after Stewart's car struck and killed Ward at a dirt-track race on Aug. 9.

In a statement, Stewart said he respects the time and effort authorities have spent "investigating this tragic accident."

"I look forward to this process being completed, and I will continue to provide my full cooperation," he said.

Stewart spent three weeks in seclusion before returning for the final two races of the Sprint Cup season. He did not make the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship field, and finished 18th in the first Chase race Sunday at Chicagoland.

Stewart still will compete in this weekend's Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Stewart-Haas Racing said.

Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero spent weeks investigating the accident at the small track in Canandaigua, several times saying investigators did not have any evidence to support criminal intent by Stewart. Ward had spun while racing alongside Stewart and then the 20-year-old climbed out of his car and walked down the track, waving his arms in an apparent attempt to confront the 43-year-old NASCAR veteran.

"Upon my review of all of the information contained in the entire investigation," Tantillo said, "I have made the determination that it would be appropriate to submit the evidence to the grand jury for their determination as to what action should be taken in this matter."

He said the law prevented him from saying when the case would be scheduled or who would be called as witnesses.

The sheriff asked in the days after Ward's death for spectators to turn over photos and videos of the crash as investigators worked to reconstruct the accident. Among the things being looked at were the dim lighting, how muddy it was and whether Ward's dark firesuit played a role in his death, given the conditions.

After Ward's death, NASCAR announced a rule that prohibits drivers from climbing out of a crashed or disabled vehicle -- unless it is on fire -- until safety personnel arrive.

Stewart, who has 48 career Cup wins in 542 starts, is one of the biggest stars in the garage. From the small town of Columbus, Indiana, he has long been one of the most proficient drivers in racing, winning in every kind of series, from sprint cars to the elite Sprint Cup Series. He has for years taken part in little races in nondescript towns because he loves the thrill of the high horsepower, lightweight cars skidding around the dirt.

He rarely made his schedule public, popping up when he pleased, and he was welcome at the clay track at Canandaigua Motorsports Park the night before the NASCAR race in nearby Watkins Glen. Instead, tragedy struck.

NASCAR spokesman Brett Jewkes said the series was closely following the case.

"We are aware of the completed investigation and the announced next steps," he said. "We will monitor this process and stay in close contact with Stewart-Haas Racing. It would be inappropriate for NASCAR to comment on this case so we will continue to respect the process and authorities involved."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

http://espn.go.com/racing/nascar/cup/st ... grand-jury
Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell, author of "Lone Survivor," described Medal of Honor recipient LT Michael Murphy as "An iron-souled warrior of colossal and almost unbelievable courage in the face of the enemy."

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Re: Ton Stewart hits/kills driver on track

Postby DiehardLonghornFan » September 24th, 2014, 2:22 pm

No charges to be brought against Tony Stewart:

http://www.foxsports.com/nascar/story/n ... -jr-092414
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Re: Ton Stewart hits/kills driver on track

Postby MikeTheTiger » September 25th, 2014, 1:50 pm

DiehardLonghornFan wrote:No charges to be brought against Tony Stewart:

http://www.foxsports.com/nascar/story/n ... -jr-092414


I suspect that Ward's father is correct about what happened relative to Stewart's intentions, but I don't think there's enough evidence to support a charge against him. One way or the other, Stewart is going to have to live with this the rest of his life.

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Re: Ton Stewart hits/kills driver on track

Postby *YNC* Aloha Nole » September 25th, 2014, 2:13 pm

Agreed, MTT.

I honestly think that this will be Stewart's final season as a full time driver.
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Re: Ton Stewart hits/kills driver on track

Postby Domer » September 26th, 2014, 7:45 am

http://espn.go.com/racing/nascar/cup/st ... t-accident

There were days when Tony Stewart couldn't get out of bed. It was a chore to take a shower, to leave his room. The television was on, he would stare at it, and have no idea what he was watching.

He didn't care about racing. He didn't want to talk to anyone, let alone face his family, friends or other drivers. Stewart's grief over the death of Kevin Ward Jr. was overwhelming, and he couldn't find his way out of the fog.

Stewart, one of NASCAR's biggest stars, spent three weeks in seclusion at his Indiana home after the car he was driving struck and killed Ward at a dirt track in upstate New York. He describes those weeks as the darkest of his life.

"I know 100 percent in my heart and in my mind that I did not do anything wrong. This was 100 percent an accident," Stewart told The Associated Press on Thursday in his first interview since a grand jury decided he would not be charged in Ward's death.

On the advice of legal counsel, Stewart would not describe what he remembers about the crash at Canandaigua Motorsports Park.

Ward and Stewart had been racing for position when Ward crashed, exited his vehicle and walked down the dark track in an apparent attempt to confront Stewart. A toxicology report found Ward also had marijuana in his system.

Ward's family has said "the matter is not at rest," and Stewart may still face a civil lawsuit.

Sitting on the couch of his North Carolina home, a sprint car race in Arkansas on mute on the television, Stewart said not being able to talk about what happened is extending his anguish.

"It keeps me from moving forward. It just stays there, hanging over my head," Stewart said.

Ward and Stewart didn't know each other, and Stewart doesn't recall them ever talking. He laments that in the scrutiny that followed -- some questioned if Stewart had tried to intimidate Ward for stepping on the track -- that the loss of the 20-year-old driver and his promising career fell to the background. He said he can't imagine how the Ward family is feeling.

"I guess the end result is I don't blame them for anything they say," he said.

Understanding how to deal with his grief and getting back on the track was difficult. Stewart has had his share of controversy and drama in his volatile but successful 16-year NASCAR career; none of it prepared him for the emotions he felt following Ward's death.

He said he needed professional help to cope with the situation, and asking for assistance wasn't easy. Stewart, 43, isn't married, has no children and keeps a tight inner circle. He's a solitary figure of sorts, someone who broods and stews alone, and opening himself up for self-examination was a monumental task.

He had no choice.

"You sit there and you wrack your brain, you try to analyze 'Why did this happen?'" Stewart said. "I made myself miserable just trying to make sense of it ... I just couldn't function. I've never been in a position where I just couldn't function."

His tumble into depression began almost immediately. Stewart left Canandaigua after the crash and went to Watkins Glen, where he was scheduled to race the next morning. It was roughly 2 a.m. when he got back to his motorhome, and he looks back now and says he was in shock.

But Stewart is a racer through and through, and racers pick themselves up and race. So that's what he told his team he would do.

He wanted to get into his No. 14 Chevrolet that Sunday and go, because that's what he had done his entire life. But when he woke up the next morning, he realized immediately he was in no condition to be in a car, nor did he have the desire to drive.

He did an about-face and pulled out of the race, the first of three he sat out.

"You race hurt, you race sick and that's the way racers have always been," he said. "You say you can go do what you need to do, and then it becomes very clear that you can't."

He watched the closing laps on television at home in Indiana, only because he wanted to see the late-race battle for a berth in NASCAR's playoffs. He watched half of the race he missed in Michigan. Stewart said practices and qualifying sessions didn't interest him, even as the three other cars he co-owns at Stewart-Haas Racing continued with their season without their leader at the track.

It wasn't until Bristol, the third race he missed, that Stewart was interested in watching.

"It just wasn't important to me," he said.

But he had to go back to work eventually, and he had to get out of his house. If he didn't give himself a routine, he would never begin to heal.

So Stewart returned to the track at the end of the August, racing at Atlanta, where he received a rousing ovation from the crowd during driver introductions. It wasn't easy going to the track -- it still isn't -- and although he's back in his car, his life is far from normal.

At home in North Carolina, Stewart barely steps outside the house. He needed a hairdresser to come to his place just to get a much-needed haircut.

"You are part of something so tragic and so unthinkable, it's hard to face anybody," he said. "It was hard to wrap my arms around this, and it still is. I haven't been a part of society for more than six weeks. You are scared to be around anybody, you are embarrassed to be around anybody because of what happened."

Focus comes whenever he pulls on his helmet and fires up his engine. Though his performance has been horrific by his own standards in his last three races, getting back into the car is a step toward normalcy.

The rest of the time? A day feels like a month. His mind wanders, his emotions get the best of him.

"There hasn't been a day that's gone by that I haven't thought about it. And it will be like that all your life," he said. "You are never going to forget about it. You are never going to not see it happen all over again. It's going to be a part of me forever."
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