Sunday, August 10, 2014

Driver Kevin Ward Jr Dies After Bodily Impact from Car Driven by Tony Stewart

There has never been any illusions that auto racing can be a dangerous sport. Over the years, helmets, roll bars and most recently SAFER barriers detail just a few products engineered to reduce injury and death to those involved in motorsports. At the end, with all the technology invested into race cars, drivers remain the key to providing a safe atmosphere. Late Saturday night on a New York dirt track, one young sprint car driver has lost his life by an action that can only properly described at this as a tragic lapse of competitors assuring safety.

The incident took place during an Empire Super Sprints (ESS) race at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in New York. Making a special appearance at the event was NASCAR Sprint Cup three-time champion and USAC title winner Tony Stewart. Stewart has been renowned for his numerous appearance at short tracks across the United States. Racing regular competitor Kevin Ward Jr.'s on track, Stewart's #14 car collided with the #13 machine of Ward. The result from their interaction had Ward's car getting wrecked. With the sprint car race under caution, the driver decided to passionately express his displeasure at Stewart. An action customary at short track and even part of major auto racing, Ward stepped away from his wrecked #13 car and proceeded closer to lower part of the race track where running sprint cars were crossing him. With Stewart just above the lower line of the dirt oval, the sprint car slammed into Kevin Ward Jr. sending the driver violently to the ground. With no signs of movement, safety officials were quick to provide medical assistance to Ward. Unfortunately, early Sunday morning, the Ontario County Sheriff Phil Povero announced to local media outlets that the driver has been confirmed dead.

According to the driver bio on his racing website, Kevin Ward Jr. was about 20 years old with a passion and talent for sprint car racing. Progressing through the ladder of sprint car racing as a two-time champion in micro sprints, he entered the ESS series in 2012 and was bestowed with rookie of the year honours. Since debuting in the series, Ward won four-time ESS feature races on route to fourth place in the 2013 championship. Before the event at Canandaigua, he was in seventh place in the 2014 drivers' standings.

With the passing of Kevin Ward Jr. under such violent circumstances of a person being struck on-foot by a race car, a investigation has been immediately launched by police. Several reports by witnesses is supporting a notion that Tony Stewart allegedly hit Ward intentionally based on the speed and positioning of his car. Social media buzz based on videos of the crash has been strongly against the NASCAR Sprint Cup driver/team owner. Stewart has been cooperating with the police investigation following the collision and there has been no charges as of Sunday morning relating to the incident. There has also been no news relating to the #14 Chevrolet Tony Stewart regularly rides in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series.

Regardless to fault, the passing of Kevin Ward Jr. serves as a sad end to a young life that accomplished so much and was full of promise.

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