Race Weekend Central

Driver Killed After Being Hit By Tony Stewart at New York Dirt Track

Update (3:04 a.m.): Local police have confirmed that an incident at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in Canandaigua, N.Y., on Saturday night (Aug. 9) involved NASCAR driver Tony Stewart.

According to police in a press conference at around 3 a.m. ET – and later reiterated in a press release – Stewart made contact with a driver who had gotten out of his car and had walked down the dirt track, visibly frustrated with Stewart. The two cars had made contact a lap prior, causing the driver’s car to spin out and come to a rest at the top of the dirt banking.

The driver was reportedly dead on arrival at Thompson Health Center in Canandaigua. His name is not currently being released by police, pending contact of family members. His name was originally reported by various outlets as Kevin Ward, Jr., 20.

Stewart has reportedly been cooperative in the ongoing investigation and is back in Watkins Glen, where he is currently set to race in the Sprint Cup Series race Sunday afternoon.

No charges have been brought in the investigation at this time.


Local police are investigating an on-track incident at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in Canandaigua, N.Y., that reportedly involved NASCAR driver Tony Stewart.

A call placed by Frontstretch to the local sheriff’s department confirmed that police are investigating the incident, and that as of midnight ET (Aug. 10) authorities were still on the scene with no other information currently available.

The racetrack posted to its official Facebook page late Saturday night (Aug. 9), confirming that all racing events at the speedway “were suspended due to an accident.” (Edit: The post has since been deleted.) The track later posted again at around 1 a.m., noting that it would “not have an official statement” on the accident until Sunday.

Unconfirmed reports came in on Twitter at around 11 p.m. ET concerning the incident at the track, which is located about 30 miles southeast of Rochester, N.Y. According to witnesses claiming to have been at the track, Stewart was involved in an on-track accident with fellow driver Kevin Ward, Jr. that necessitated medical attention for the latter. Stewart, according to reports from apparent witnesses at Canandaigua, hit Ward, who was out of his machine, with his racecar while on track.

Video footage posted to YouTube later confirmed the incident, with Stewart’s car making contact with Ward in turn 2. He is shown being attended to by track workers, with Stewart’s car found sitting at the end of the backstretch.

Thompson Health Center in Canandaigua has confirmed that a driver was received there with serious injuries.

There is currently no word if Stewart’s entry in Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at The Glen, located at Watkins Glen International about 54 miles south, has been affected.

Stewart recently returned to dirt track racing, competing at Tri-City Speedway in Auburn, Mich., last month, following 11 months out of a sprint car after breaking his leg in an accident at Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa, Iowa.

This is a developing story.

About the author

Rutherford is the managing editor of Frontstretch, a position he gained in 2015 after serving on the editing staff for two years. At his day job, he's a journalist covering music and rock charts at Billboard. He lives in New York City, but his heart is in Ohio -- you know, like that Hawthorne Heights song.

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Carl D.

I’ve watched various videos of this tragic accident and there’s nothing to support any claims that this was intentional on Stewart’s part. The driver walked down the track and put himself in danger by doing so. It’s sad that a young life was lost, but hopefully there will be lessons learned and preventive measures will be taken to avoid future tragedies like this.


I read various accounts of what happened as I really didn’t want to watch the video. In some of the articles there were eye witnesses that stated that Tony goosed the throttle when he went by Kevin which kicked the rear of his car out causing the car to strike Kevin. Logically I could see that happening but I had trouble reconciling Tony consciously doing that knowing he was that close to Kevin so I ended up watching one video, (Deadspin). After watching it I’m not quite sure I see where Tony goosed it and kicked the rear out as it shows his car actually turning_away from Kevin. I agree with you that this tragic accident prevents other drivers from hopping out of their cars to confront another driver in a moving car, (I doubt it though when emotions are running high).

Fred Madden

It appeared to me that he hit the throttle to slide the rear left, in order miss Ward. It is hard to tell in the video where exactly Ward got hit by Stewart’s car, but the media is all saying that it was by the right rear wheel, which would support my theory.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see what Stewart has to say about it.


I pray NASCAR does not show local law enforcement the arrogant “We will tell you what you think” attitude that it displays towards its fan base and participates fully in this investigation. We all need to reserve judgement as to whether this is a tragic accident or an unintended vehicular homicide until all the facts are in.

Fred Madden

Considering that Ward walked all the way down into the groove that he would have been hit by the 45 car (the blue car in front of Stewart) if it hadn’t turned. Combined with that fact that they don’t have spotters, I don’t think Stewart even saw Ward until it was too late. The 45 car would have blocked his view of Ward, and then he only had a fraction of a second to react. Not to mention that it was dark as hell out too.

It’s a tragic incident. But unless another angle is posted that shows Stewart aiming for Ward, I have to chalk this up to Stewart being in the wrong place at the wrong time, while Ward let his anger overtake his reasoning. I know Stewart has a temper, but he would never hit a person with his car. He’d hit their car or hit them with his fist, but never the driver with his car. Also, his temper has cooled down quite a bit over the years too.


Again, we don’t know and we won’t know what happened until the incident is completely investigated. There is no point in speculating until all the facts are in.


As tragic as this event would be anywhere, New York State may be the worst place for something like this to happen. I hope some liberal politician doesn’t use this as an opportunity to make a name for themselves by trying to drum up all sorts of extreme regulation on auto racing.

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