Monday, August 11, 2014

Drivers Say Tony Stewart Saw Kevin Ward Jr.

A day after the tragic death of Kevin Ward Jr., there is a lot out there to discuss. Apparently Tony Stewart was going to run his NASCAR race until his handlers told him he would look awful for doing so. Until that decision was made for him, Tony Stewart said it was just going to be business as usual. Tony and Kevin have a history of confrontations despite Kevin being just 20 years old when he was killed. They had hit each other and bumped each other in previous races and there was a great deal of bad blood between the two.

Drivers who were on the track said that all the drivers were under caution and that Tony Stewart could have easily seen Kevin standing in the road. Another driver had already gone around him with plenty of room to spare because the speeds they were traveling were so slow. One driver said it looked to him like Tony Stewart increased speed when he saw Kevin because these types of cars start sliding to the left when they increase speed which is exactly what Tony's did. Meanwhile, police are looking for any kind of evidence in the case but have struck out so far. At this point they are still calling it an on track incident and it is not a criminal investigation yet.

66 comments:

Meanie Rhysie said...

Sigh. Boys and their toys.

sandybrook said...

I dont watch auto racing but saw this video Enty. Its kind of hard to avoid hitting someone who turns and runs directly at you in the middle of the road like this guy did. One driver barely avoided him.
The police arent pressing charges so most everyone--except you-- consider this a tragic accident and place the blame on the guy who got killed for getting out of his car in the first place. RIP.

sandybrook said...

Should have said "arent pressing charges right now".

cubsfan1990 said...

how is tony not in jail yet?

fancyscreenname said...

**

Kitty said...

My sympathies to the Ward family, but the kid should never have gotten out of his car and walked into the path of the cars. It was suicidal.

Rome said...

Still with this, Enty? Seriously, this guy got out of his vehicle and walked onto a race track with cars speeding past him. And the first car didn't "easily" miss him either. He swerved to miss him and Stewart was riding directly behind him. Besides, does anyone believe Stewart would intentionally murder someone on a race track over bad blood, and if so, would a 20 year-old nobody really be his target? Give me a fucking break, already. This was a tragic accident, period, and the victim was the cause of his own demise.

fancyscreenname said...

why was he confronting speeding cars?

he ran RIGHT in the path of SPEEDING CARS.

i cant believe what i just saw.

surfer said...

I saw the video yesterday (on Deadspin). Kevin Ward walked right into the middle of the track, so it seems as if there's no way Tony Stewart didn't seem him. Ward was pointing his finger right at Stewart.

I really hope they get to the bottom of this.

nora nader said...

Wow. Entry really wants Stewart to be guilty, doesn't he?

I can't watch the video. I can't intentionally watch someone else die. I just can't do it. I won't do it.

So, while I haven't any visual proof...I find it very difficult to believe a professional race car driver would deliberately hit another driver in front of thousands of people, not to mention all the video/photographers at the event.

Vera Christina said...

+1 Rome

The idea that Tony would throw away everything he has because a 20 year old racer on a dirt track in NY yelled at him is insane.

This was tragic. This was horrific and this was an accident.

Vera Christina said...

I think there will be a wrongful death lawsuit (and quiet out of court settlement) but criminal charges? Not likely.

FSP said...

He shouldn't have been playing Frogger.

fancyscreenname said...

HA!

Frufra said...

I obsessed over this situation for a while yesterday. It's one of those cases that really makes me want to know the truth. I can see compelling arguements on both sides.

snookiemonster said...

Wish i never saw video

Tina Mallette said...

I am still reserving judgment but some of the comments from eyewitnesses and things other people at the track saw and heard makes me think this is not conclusively an accident totally to blame on the victim. The fact they were in Caution mode for one thing. Everyone should have been travelling as a slow enough speed so they could react to emergency crews etc on the track.

Very curious that Stewart had to be talked into withdrawing from his NASCAR race on Sunday. Clearly a lack of perception of the optics amongst other things.

Tina Mallette said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tina Mallette said...

People in the grandstand on that turn are claiming Stewart gunned his engine as he approached the other driver on the track which with those cars means your car will slide to the side. Why is he gunning his engine in caution mode with a man clearly on the track. Maybe he was just trying to scare the other driver by coming close but he miscalculated.

My initial assessment was Stewart's racing career might be over. Even if not criminally charged I am wondering if that might be the case because racing is an expensive game and all racers need their sponsors to keep their teams going.

FingerBinger said...

Kevin Ward Jr was culpable in his own death by getting out of the car. I'm guessing that getting out of the car and running onto the track is not what the drivers normally do when they've crashed. It seems like he was a young guy that let his emotions get the better of him and he paid for it with his life.

Zoe Cialite said...

I'll let the cops decide on the matter but for Tony Stewart to treat this "accident" as business-as-usual made him appear so callous. And what kind of a forty something is he to have a history of bad blood with another man who's young enough to be his son? He's an arrogant POS.

Karen said...

From what I read, Stewart never said "business as usual." Someone from his team did. That doesn't mean that Stewart wasn't still planning to race, but he at least wasn't the one to say something so flippant.

Vera Christina said...

I don't think Stewart should have raced yesterday, however not racing meant he was out of contention for the chase and he (and his organization) is out millions of dollars.

Now I've never been in an accident where someone died, but I imagine that for a few days, or possibly weeks afterwards I would not be thinking straight.

Pip said...

There wasn't much time to stop. Even if he tried, he probably would've hit the guy still. He just kept walking further into the track. I don't think Stewart would risk everything over a pissed off competitor.

BlondeB said...

Stewart has a history of losing his temper. It seems it was bad judgement on both sides, but the fact that he doesn't seem to have any remorse, suggests that further investigation is required.

CoBe said...

I haven't seen the video, but I have done a great deal of research on sociopaths.

This would be normal behavior for a sociopath, particularly not understanding why he should skip a race until it is explained to him.

I don't know if this is what happened or anything about either of these two guys, but I do urge people not to judge the actions of a sociopath by what they would or wouldn't do in the same situation.

It is a common error and makes regular people primary targets for sociopathic behavior.

Trilby said...

If it had happened to a regular joe, you know they'd be in jail. I think Stewart absolutely lost it and did it on purpose. And Ward was an idiot for getting out of the car. But hey, money buys justice.

Brian said...

KWJ killed himself when he left his car and ran into the race traffic. He put himself in harms way and the worse happened.

Trilby said...

People "throw away everything" every day in road rage incidents.

Prunella Buggerweeds said...

I don't believe Tony Stewart intended to come into contact with Kevin but I do think it's possible that if he gunned his engine, it was sort of a "fuck you" gesture to Kevin standing there pointing at him, he wasn't expecting to make contact but maybe to scare him or diss him by coming close. And he misjudged. Which in my book is manslaughter.

Layna Day said...

@Purnella: you're spot on with the 'fuck you' gesture. Apparently, 'throwing dirt' at other drivers is common if someone got bumped off a dirt track by a competitor--much like what Stewart did to Ward just a moment before the tragedy.

It's not a stretch to think that Stewart, with his temper and refusal to back down, decided to get close to Ward and spray Ward with dirt/gravel.

Those particular cars don't have clutches/throttles. So when you rev up the engine, the car's backside can spin around a bit. There's no way to get a good grip on dirt. It appears that the right rear tire on Stewart's car is what caught Ward.

Stewart has driven on every kind of surface known to humanity. So he would know what the car could and could not do. But if he was looking to further piss off Ward/teach Ward a lesson--it's possible that in that exact instant, he got caught up in the rush without thinking.

I can see an argument for reckless endangerment. But anything beyond will be nearly impossible to prove.

Stewart is a hothead. But I can't imagine him intentionally hurting someone in that fashion.

Topper Madison said...

@Brian, exactly. I couldn't watch the whole video, but once I saw Kevin GET OUT OF HIS CAR I was flabbergasted. No one could have predicted that, and it was effectively suicide.

Racing in dangerous ya'll, and the drivers all know it. Getting out of a car in the middle of a race is simply dumbass, and in this case, proved fatal.

Tina Mallette said...

Well there is the circumstance that a driver might have to get out and away from his car if it is on fire.

While he may have breached the rules all the remaining drivers were under a caution warning so it meant they needed to be driving at a slower speed and being extra diligent. Enough to attract some level of civil liability, maybe not 100% maybe 50 maybe 25 percent. Though I also think race drivers may to sign waivers given it is a risky activity in the first place which might impact on any lawsuit.

B626 said...

Not only is Stewart ' s career over, the family's civil suit is going to cost him a bundle.

JoElla said...

Tony screwed the pooch on this one. I just don't see how he can recover from this.

I realize it is racing, and things happen in a blink of an eye, but he was the veteran on the track, he knew better.

Gayeld said...

Wow, I just watched a video of the accident. Kevin Ward pretty clearly caused his own death. Getting out of the car, when there was no need to, was just stupid to start with. But he compounded that by practically jumping in front of Tony Stewart's car to confront him. Ward jumped out into almost the middle of the track when Stewart's car was approaching, was almost hit by the car in front of Stewart (who was going the same speed Stewart was) and didn't get out of the way after that.

Stewart's car didn't begin to swerve and fishtail until after he hit the kid.

Brenda L said...

Nothing will ever stick to Stewart about this because the kid walked out onto the track and into the path of his car. But I am sure his career will suffer if not totally fail after this.

FS said...

1. Tony Stewart is a hot headed ass with a history of bad behavior on the track and towards other drivers. That is a fact.

2. The track was under a caution, and I believe a caution in Sprint-Car racing means to slow the hell down and go to the inner part of the track because those vehicles skid sideways, as noted above.

3. Kevin Ward got out of his car. Yes, that happens, but worse, he got out of his car and ran around on the track dodging cars, waving his arms, shouting, and pointing. He made a horrible, stupid, immature, foolish decision, and basically caused his own death, but if Tony Stewart did anything other than slow down and move to the inside of the track, than he also made a very bad decision and contributed to Ward's death. Negligent manslaughter perhaps, or civil but not criminal liability.

I don't think Stewart is going to walk away clean. I hope he never races again and I will probably tweet a few of his sponsors later this week. I hope NASCAR gets in front of this, but I suspect they will circle the wagons and protect their own, just like the NFL, NBA, MLB, etc, etc.

nevarmore said...

FS < yes, this.
Stewart could have avoided Ward, but miscalculated and killed a man, who also made a foolish decision to stand in the track. Stewart should be criminally prosecuted, and banned from racing. Ward has already paid for his mistake. OTHER drivers, who recognize the maneuvers in this sport, have already stated, it looked calculated, and deliberate on Stewarts part.

Little Miss Smoke and Mirrors said...

Watched the video. All the drivers had slowed. When Ward pointed his finger, Stewart revved his engine and turned his car slightly in order to hit Ward. It's obvious.

I can't believe anyone is blaming the victim here. Stewart hit him with malice and intent.

Lady Heisenberg said...

The data collection system of Stewart's car should give us a better idea of what happened. This is one clusterfuck of a hot mess and mistakes were made, but a young man is dead and it must have been traumatic for the spectators. I'm sure others on here can attest to how horrible it is to watch someone suddenly die. Rest in peace, kid, and condolences to your loved ones.

Amy in MI said...

Because when your dirt track racing you have to hit the throttle to turn. There is absolutely no grip on those cars. It's all about letting off and on the throttle to drive it. Tony grew up dirt track racing and loves racing anything with wheels. Mad or not I believe he did not intentionally hit the kid. Why he ran onto a dirt track of all things boggles my mind

Amy in MI said...

There aren't data collections on these type of cars. It isn't NASCAR. It's folks dirt track racing on a sat night. That's why the PD wants videos

bluebonnetmom said...

I agree with you. I think he thought he was going to just scare Kevin because they were both angry and he killed him. I want to know if there is audio from the car to his team. Not having much remorse after killing a 20 year old does not look too good either.

Count Jerkula said...

Only reason that kid is dead is because he was fucking stupid. You walk into the middle of a track and blame a driver when you die? That's like an asshole hopping the fence at a zoo and someone blaming a lion for mauling him to death.

Darwin Award material.

bluebonnetmom said...

The video sure looks that way to me too.

Randaleese said...

Any idiot getting out of a wrecked racer in a DARK racing suit on a DARK surface, to go offer another driver, pointing at him, turning his head to track him, is playing a dangerous game. I am not a Tony fan, but this is CLEARLY not his fault!

Scarlett Drawl said...

If the rules were reversed the kid would be awaiting the investigation results in jail. You get the justice you can afford in this country.

texas rose said...

Little miss and blueblonnet - what video did you see? If it was the only one I've been able to find then you don't know what you're talking about. Nothing is obvious from that video except that he was out of his car and was hit.

rosie riveter said...

Yes. This.

HudsonJoe said...

Tony Stewart maybe a world class creep but the lion's share of the blame for the of Kevin Ward Jr. has to be placed on Kevin Ward Jr.

He would have been completely safe if he had stayed up near the outside rail. The video posted to deadspin is not the best nor the best angle. What it does seem to show is Tony driving straight at a constant speed till after his car obscures Kevin Ward. Only after the 14 car obscures Ward is there a change in direction; presumably that change is caused by impact with Ward.

Ward was almost hit by the blue and white car and yet stepped closer to the line the cars were driving, to me that is borderline suicidal.

My prediction Stewart won't see a criminal trial. The DA may take this to a grand jury but they will refuse to hand up a true bill. If the Ward family sues they might get a small award from a local jury against the deep pocketed out of towner.

The much bigger question is will Stewart hang on to his sponsorship deals.

Enty read your second paragraph and then look at the video. A push or slide to the left would have taken Stewart further to the inside. You cannot use the quotation you did and then turn around and indite Stewart for an action which you just quoted a driver as moving him inside the line he was on.

Prunella Buggerweeds said...

@Count, that's not the ONLY reason he's dead. It's a contributing factor. Possibly the major factor. But for him to die, he had to do something incredibly stupid (go out into the track, which others have said on here, drivers DO in this type of dirt racing when they get mad) ... AND Stewart had to hit him. So the question is, did Stewart rev BECAUSE he saw him, and not make every effort to avoid him? If Stewart did rev, is there a plausible explanation for WHY he did it at that point other than to spray him with dirt?

If Stewart was in any way negligent, whether or not he intended to harm the kid, then that's the definition of criminal manslaughter.

Either way, I can't see him booking a lot of endorsements, or keeping all the endorsements he has.

There's criminal ... and there's civil. In a civil case, you just have to prove with a preponderance of the evidence (51% or more) that the defendant contributed to the accident by being negligent - or worse. If the jury finds that he did, then it assigns a percentage of blame to all the parties involved, and awards pro rata punitive damages.

In a criminal trial you have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Stewart was negligent in order to convict him.

Remember OJ Simpson? aquitted in the criminal trial, found liable in the civil trial. The Goldmans and the Browns have taken every penny he makes except his retirement plan. And that swag that he was trying to get back, that got him sent to prison again? That actually was the Goldmans' and Browns' property. But of course OJ isn't a big one on the legal fine print is he?

Diana Maras said...

The video I saw showed a guy getting out of his car and intentionally going after another car, on foot. Emotional decisions are never good ones and I feel sorry for his loved ones.

Erin said...

Have none of you ever driven during a snow storm?????

You have to accelerate when turning to change directions. Even if your wheel is turned, if you start to skid, you move in a straight line. He revved to turn.

B. Profane said...

The CDAN ghostie who posted this ought to be horsewhipped--and those of you claiming Stewart ran the kid over deliberately ought to be horsewhipped as well!

Walking across the corner of a sprint car track in heavy traffic, regardless of whether the caution is out, is by definition an act of attempted suicide. All those cars are grooved in a full four-wheel drift on dirt. The slightest change in steering wheel position or throttle will cause a sprint car in a turn to either kick the back end out in increased oversteer or snap back with understeer bite and steer up the track. Either way the car is going UP the track, right into the impact footprint into which Ward deliberately walked! Kid might as well have fed himself face-first into a woodchipper, the outcome was that inevitable.

Any of you ever heel-and-toe'd a car around a corner at speed in a four wheel drift? No. Then shut the fuck up. You have no idea what that level of driving entails.

NaughtyNurse said...

The right side of Stewart's car hit Ward, so if he sped up to make his car slide left, it was with the intention of AVOIDING hitting him, you dumb ass Entern.

B. Profane said...

There was no way that Stewart could drive his car to tighten his turn to avoid Ward at that moment. At best he could have dumped throttle and eased his opposite-lock to tighten the radius of his turn, but by the time his tires would have had the grip to do that he'd have been well past Ward.

There is a well-worn grove in the corner of every sprint car dirt track. When a driver enters the turn at speed, all he can do is ride the grove or lose his car up into the outside fence. If you get out of your crashed car and WALK INTO that groove, you're going to get hit.

Prunella Buggerweeds said...

I defer to those who know something about dirt track and mechanics, cuz I don't.

If they were under yellow flag (caution) ... what is the protocol? Lower speed to X MPH (what is X?) and ... what?

And what's the difference between yellow flag and red flag?

And if Ward had stayed in his car, what would have happened next? Would somebody from race control have driven out to push his car off the track? I mean, is there a pit lane? How do cars get off the track when they're disabled? Was his car even disabled? And finally, do drivers in dirt track habitually get out of their cars when they get spun? or not? I thought I read somewhere yesterday that they do get out of their cars and point. Which yes, seems suicidal.

B. Profane said...

Red flag means stop immediately, usually reserved for a major crash that blocks the track completely and/or in which there have been very serious injuries.

Yellow flag means to slow down and do not pass other cars, but how slow how soon is open to interpretation. In sprint cars, where cars spin out in the corners a lot but cautions get cleared fast, some drivers want to keep their speed up as much as possible in order not to get passed when the green flag comes out. It's not uncommon for the cars to keep tooling around at just under race speeds when a yellow is initially waved.

If you go into the fence hard like Ward did, you're generally done racing for the night. Sprint cars are a little more likely to brew up than other race cars, plus they're not as well protected as stock cars or other open-wheel cars so the drivers generally hop out and get over the fence as fast as they can, provided they're not stuck in the middle of the track.

Ward should have hopped the fence or waited in the car until a track safety wrecker came to pick him up...anything but run DOWN into race traffic. That was just nuts.

Ramone Love said...

Prunella Buggerweeds,

A yellow flag means caution, whether for an accident (as in this case, with Ward's car up against the barrier and unable to move on its own) or debris, or something which prevents the race from continuing under full speed. Generally caution laps in those types or cars is about 40-45 MPH.

A red flag is for a full stop; all race cars come to a full stop and are held there until whatever happened (usually a really bad wreck with lots of parts and pieces all over) is cleaned up, barriers repaired, etc.

This particular incident happened under a caution which was thrown because Stewart slid into Ward while racing and put Ward into the wall, wrecking the kid's car. This is something which almost ALWAYS results in tempers flaring, helmets being thrown, getting out of your car and giving the finger to the guy who dumped you as he goes by your wrecked car under caution. Which is what happened here.

What is unusual about this incident, and I say this as one who has been attending and watching races since I was a child, for over 40 years, is that the kid ran TOWARD Stewart's car, rather than the normal practice of standing by your wrecked vehicle, safely out of the way, and making obscene hand gestures to the cause of your wreck. Stewart compounded the problem by NOT diving low to the apron to avoid the obviously agitated kid, instead gave him what in baseball is called a brushback, essentially a counter fuck you, with the car. Stewart has been notorious for EXACTLY this behavior his entire career. I doubt very much Stewart realized the kid was standing right at the rear wheel when he gunned the engine, but that doesn't excuse the fact that he didn't dive low to avoid the kid altogether.

I'd agree with another comment here, that Stewart could be facing an involuntary manslaughter charge or possibly negligent homicide. And surely a huge wrongful death suit from the Ward family.

Count Jerkula said...

Sorry, Prunella, but the moron almost got hit by one car and continued into the track to confront Stewart's car. If I run in front of a train is it the conductor's fault I die?

Some people are just too stupid to live. It may not be nice to say, but it is reality.

B. Profane said...

Ramone, you're full of shit. Stewart was coming around still on a hot lap, having only seen a yellow flag at most half a lap beforehand. These are short tracks, so Stewart was back around to the crash site in seconds with little time to slow down.

Hit the brakes? Sprint cars don't have brakes to speak of. Drive down to the apron? Need to scrub off a lot of speed with engine-braking before you can safely drive low. Note that the car in front of Stewart's that barely missed Ward was also still in the racing grove, at speed. In fact, two cars still in the racing grove missed Ward before Stewart hit him, not one.

Hell, did Stewart even see Ward on the track? The 45 car would have at least partially blocked his view of Ward at the critical point he could have maneuvered to miss. In fact, Ward was lower on the track when the 45 dodged him and then jumped back up the track, probably trying to get out of the way of Stewart's car. If anything, Stewart was dodging high, since Ward was a little lower/to his left when the 45 car went past, and Ward inadvertently stepped into the path of Stewart's car.

Criminal charges? Not a chance? Civil suit? Not unless the plaintiffs can provide overwhelming proof that Stewart deliberately ran Ward down. Auto racing is by definition an assumed risk endeavor. You sign away all your tort rights when you walk onto the track.

Kid's lucky he's not gonna get buried with a big "IDIOT" sticker on his coffin.,

Prunella Buggerweeds said...

This is a fascinating thread. Thanks everybody for educating me. I'm going to withhold speculating any longer because that's obviously above my pay grade.

But just to follow up on something B. Profane just said about being buried with a big "IDIOT" sticker on his coffin...

I feel bad mocking him but there is this thing called the Darwin Award. There's a web site and everything and you can nominate people for the award.

Basically, anybody who removes himself from the gene pool by dying in a spectacularly stupid way, is a candidate.

Of course, being a bit OCD, I think that people who have already had children should be ineligible because obviously they have already passed on their DNA.

Mirite?

Unfortunately I think Kevin Ward is going to be nominated ... if he hasn't been already.

Oh, just checked on their web site. Apparently they stopped updating it in 2013.

Someone I know made it into their archives. He was jogging at Land's End in San Francisco with headphones on and he ran right off a cliff.

There's some question about whether it was suicide or accidental. His wife swore that he was always thinking about his work and was notoriously absent-minded.

freckledk said...

Anyone on the fence about whether or not there was malicious intent on Stewart's part should read this article from 2009:
http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/where-theres-smoke-up-close-with-tony-stewart-nascars-nastiest-driver-20140810

B. Profane said...

It doesn't matter how big of an asshole Tony Stewart is, Ward ran down in front of his car and got himself run over. Case closed.

Susan Bahns said...

ward lost his mind by walking out on the track. darwinism at its finest