Driver hit by Tony Stewart at New York dirt track dies

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CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. – NASCAR Sprint Cup driver and owner Tony Stewart struck a fellow competitor late Saturday night at a dirt track in Northern New York.

He was participating in a Sprint Car event at the Canandaigua Motorsports Park when his car hit 20-year old Kevin Ward Jr, who had left his car following an incident with Stewart.

Ontario County (NY) Sheriff Philip C. Povero confirmed that driver struck by Stewart was killed in the incident. He didn’t name Ward specifically, waiting for all family to be notified.

Video of the incident was posted early Sunday morning on YouTube. It shows Ward making his way down the track appearing to gesture towards Stewart’s sprint car when the driver was struck. Emergency crews from the track were on the scene immediately and Ward was taken by ambulance to nearby Thompson Medical Center.

Povero said that the driver was pronounced dead upon arrival at 11:15 P.M.

During the news conference, Povero said that Stewart was questioned about the incident and was upset but fully cooperated with authorities. He also said the District Attorney’s office has been notified of the incident and that no charges have been filed at this time.

Povero, who said Stewart was “very upset” about the incident, also said  it’s believed that the driver has returned to Watkins Glen International, where NASCAR will hold a Sprint Cup race on Sunday afternoon at 1 PM. It is unknown if Stewart will participate in that race.

Early Sunday morning, Stewart Haas Racing released this statement on the incident: “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.”

The Canandaigua Motorsports Park released this statement on their Facebook page early Sunday morning: “Please pray for the entire racing community of fans, drivers and families.”