Sunday, August 10, 2014

(GRAPHIC FOOTAGE) Kevin Ward Jr. Dead At 20 Years Old, Run Over By NASCAR Champion Tony Stewart

Tony Stewart has revealed that he will not be racing later today after the tragic death of Kevin Ward Jr.

  • Kevin Ward Jr and NASCAR champion Tony Stewart collided on the track Saturday night during a race in Canandaigua, New York.
  • Ward Jr got out of his car and angrily approached Stewart's vehicle as he was making another lap about the track.
  • Stewart's car then hit Ward Jr and the 20-year-old driver was later pronounced dead.
  • Race was immediately suspended and crash is now under investigation.
  • Stewart's racing team says he will compete in another race on Sunday, despite the tragedy.

A driver has died after being struck by a NASCAR star's car following a collision on a race track in New York state.

Veteran NASCAR driver Tony Stewart hit young racer Kevin Ward Jr, who was walking on the track after they collided on the previous lap.

Authorities are investigating the crash, which took place during the Empire Super Sprints at the Canandaigua dirt track in upstate New York on Saturday night.

Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero said his department's investigation is not criminal and that Stewart was 'fully co-operative' and appeared 'very upset' by what had happened.

A video of the incident posted on YouTube shows 20-year-old Ward, wearing a black helmet and firesuit on the dimly lit track, leave his vehicle, which had spun into the wall at the side of the track, apparently to protest with Stewart.

Ward is shown pointing in the direction of Stewart as he completes his next lap, gesticulating angrily as other racers pass him.

The racer then steps into the oncoming traffic before he is suddenly struck and flung 50ft along the track.

The video showed Ward standing to the right of Stewart's familiar No 14 car, which seemed to kick out from the rear and hit him.

'The next thing I could see, I didn't see (the other driver) anymore,' witness Michael Messerly said. 'It just seemed like he was suddenly gone.'

In the next scene, emergency services can be seen rushing to Ward's aid as he lies on the track.

He was pronounced dead at a Canandaigua hospital on Saturday night.

Another eyewitness, Adam Dulski, told USA Today: 'It happened in turn two.

'The prior lap, Tony had gotten into him – just spun him, nothing big, just spun him around. The caution came out. He hopped out of the car – the driver of the 13 [Kevin Ward] ... he hopped out to go and yell and point a finger at Tony, typical thing.'

'Tony came around ... the back end slid out, and he definitely caught him – I couldn't tell if it was with the front or the back of the car. ... The body made contact with the car and went sliding across the track a long distance, at least 50 feet. It was the worst thing I've ever seen.'

Povero said three-time NASCAR champion Stewart, 43, a frequent competitor at local sprint car events, was questioned and released.

The sheriff asked for people with video footage of the crash to submit it for investigators to review.

A spokesman for Stewart's racing team called Ward's death a 'tragic accident.'

He added: 'Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. WE're still attempting to sort through all the details.'

The dirt track, about 30 miles south-east of Rochester, cancelled the remainder of the race and later posted a message on its Facebook page encouraging fans to 'pray for the entire racing community of fans, drivers, and families.'

Stewart is co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, the four-team NASCAR organization that fields cars for Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick.

He's struggled a bit this year since returning from his leg injury, and heads into Sunday's race at Watkins Glen International winless on the season and ranked 19th.

Stewart was scheduled to start 13th on Sunday and he has just five races remaining to either score a win or move inside the top 16 in points to grab a valuable spot in NASCAR's championship race

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