Tony Stewart is a NASCAR driver that a lot of people like to hate. Stewart has made many enemies over the years. His mouth and his temper have surely gotten him in trouble plenty of times.
In a Sprint Car race at a track in Canandaigua, NY, Saturday night, Stewart struck and killed fellow driver, 20 year old Kevin Ward Jr., after Ward had climbed from his car to confront Stewart after the two of them tangled and Ward was sent flying into the wall.
I watched the video that was shot by a fan on the other side of the track (You can search for it. I won’t post it here). It is very disturbing to watch. Reactions have been all over the place and quite honestly, most of them have been stupid, with a lot of them coming from people who gladly mock the sport and know nothing about it.
IJ Review wrote up something about it and it’s the worst kind of tripe:
In the video, several cars can be seen ducking under the visibly-angry driver. Just prior to the impact, the driver of a blue and white car clearly sees Ward and swerves to avoid him.
A split-second before striking Ward, Stewart revs his engine. While some reports say the rear of Stewart’s car kicked out as a result, causing him to hit Ward, the video suggests he hit the young driver before the rear of his car came around.
Needless to say, it’s a terrible tragedy for all involved, including Tony Stewart. But questions remain.
Stewart has a long history as a hot head, on and off the track. Did he see Ward, as several other drivers did? If so, was he attempting to “buzz the tower” and continue the confrontation that began on the previous lap?
Police have questioned Stewart twice about the incident and are asking eyewitnesses to come forward.
Again, an unavoidable tragedy for Tony Stewart, or did his anger finally get the best of him?
There are several areas that need to be addressed but the singular most absurd accusation being leveled at Stewart is that he purposely hit Ward or was trying to “scare” him by swerving towards Ward and wound up hitting him.
That’s just a bunch of crap. Yes, Tony Stewart has been involved in fist fights and has bumped and spun cars during his time as a driver. But not even Stewart is stupid enough to play chicken with a race car. Sprint cars are powerful and fast (900 horse power). They can hit speeds of up to 140mph. These are not go-carts. Stepping in front of one is asking for trouble and that is exactly what Ward did.
John Ekdahl has a great recap of what happened and you should read about that here. He explains how it played out.
I want to specifically address the accusation that Stewart “revved his engine” because it has been an accusation that has been coming from all different areas.
The most important thing to keep in mind is the video in question was amateur video. It was made from the other side of the track. Granted, it’s a half mile track, but no video camera has a microphone that good it will pick up the sound of a revving engine that clearly from such a distance.
The most likely explanation is the microphone picked up the engine sound of one of the cars close to where the video was being shot. It’s merely a coincidence it happened to sound at the same time Stewart struck Ward.
Tony Stewart has been a race car driver for nearly 20 years. The idea that he would suddenly lose it so badly (in an incident where he suffered no ill effects to his car, no less) as to purposely run down another driver or even “buzz the tower” is just absurd.
Stewart has to live the rest of his life with what happened. But no crime was committed. It was a tragic accident. Nothing more.