A 20-year-old sprint car driver died on Saturday night when he got out of his car following a in-race crash, and then was hit by another car driven by Tony Stewart, a three-time champion on the NASCAR circuit. Kevin Ward Jr. died from his injuries after being thrown more than 50 feet down the dirt track at the Canandaigua Motorsports Park in upstate New York.
Ward's car was knocked out of the race after colliding with Stewart and running into the wall. He then got out of his car and appeared to be attempting to confront Stewart as the race continued under caution. Video of the incident, captured by spectators, shows Ward stepping out into the middle of the track and pointing at Stewart's car. As Stewart passed him, his car accelerated, causing the back end to fishtail and strike Ward.
The race was immediately stopped and all other events at the track were canceled. Ward was pronounced dead on arrival at a local hospital in Canandaigua.
Local sheriff's officials questioned and released Stewart, but said the investigation was not a criminal one. Although, he appeared to accelerate right at the moment of impact, Ward was standing in the middle of the track while the cars were still moving.
Stewart is scheduled to participate in a NASCAR event at nearby Watkins Glen speedway on Sunday, but it's not known if he still plans to race.
UPDATE, 8:00 a.m.: Stewart's race manager announced early on Sunday morning, that Stewart will indeed race on Sunday at Watkins Glen, saying it will be "business as usual." Today's race, the Cheez-It 355 At The Glen, will start at 1:00 p.m.
UPDATE, 10:22 a.m.: After some time has passed, it seems that Tony Stewart's team has reversed their position and Stewart will not race at Watkins Glen today. Driver Regan Smith take his place.