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Sprint Car Driver Dead Following Incident Involving Tony Stewart

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CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. — Late Saturday evening, multiple reports surfaced on social media websites Facebook and Twitter about an alleged altercation between NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Tony Stewart and local driver, Kevin Ward Jr., during a sprint car race at Canandaigua Motorsports Park.

Although the information trickling in from the track is unconfirmed and spotty, the local sheriff’s office, however; has confirmed that they are indeed investigating an incident involving Stewart and will release a statement in the coming hours.

Canandaigua Motorsports Park is half-mile dirt track located near Syracuse, N.Y. After suffering a broken tibia and fibula during a sprint car race last August that sidelined him for the remainder of the 2013 Sprint Cup Series season, Stewart returned to sprint car racing in recent weeks.

With so much information pouring in — and much of it being unable to confirm – we will continue to monitor this developing story and provide details as they become available.

UPDATE – 8/11, 2:45pm ET:

On Monday, Jeremie Corcoran, the promoter of Canandaigua Motorsports Park — the site of the tragic incident  that claimed the live of Kevin Ward Jr. — released the following statement in regards to the circumstances that took place at his facility on Saturday night:

“I am extremely devastated from the tragic incident that occurred at Canandaigua Motorsports Park on Saturday night as I know are many, many, others.

First and foremost I offer my sincerest and deepest condolences to the Ward family. Kevin Ward Jr. was a spirited competitor and loved by so many. This is a tremendous loss to this family and the racing family as well. I have spoken to the family and they spent prayer time at the track Sunday in the early morning hours. Godspeed #13!

To all the fans that witnessed this incident I have you in my thoughts. This has been difficult to process and it surely is not what you come to the races for. I do ask that you hold on to your integrity and have compassion for everyone that was involved in this. I understand that we all can have opinions and have the right to express them, I just ask that you think about all the lives that have been affected over this before you speak out. So many people are affected. So many are hurting. No one deserves more pain or blame. We need unity to support all that are hurting and the sport of racing we care so much about. That is the only way for us to heal and move forward. 

To all my staff that responded to this terrible tragedy I thank you for your professionalism and dedication. Our Medical Staff did everything they could and I know you are all hurting. All the Safety and Track Officials that scrambled to secure the track and keep everyone focused and calm I thank you. To all my friends that have called/texted me I thank you for your encouragement and support.

I have made the decision to cancel our upcoming “Whacko Wednesday” event on Wednesday August 13th at Canandaigua Motorsports Park to give my family, staff, fans, and racing teams time to grieve and process all that has occurred. I will let everyone know about next weekend as soon as I can.

Lastly, I had to have our Facebook Page taken down early Sunday morning due to insensitive and hateful comments. I plead with you to be respectful so we can keep this page active for you to keep informed.”

UPDATE – 8/10, 3:30pm ET:

Ontario County (N.Y.) Sheriff Phil Povero briefed the media a short while ago in regards to the Tony Stewart/Kevin Ward Jr. incident at Canandaigua Speedway on Saturday night.

Povero reiterated that he and his officials are still treating the investigation of the unfortunate events of the evening as an “on track accident”, and that no criminal charges are pending.

“(There are) no facts in hand that would substantiate criminal intent from any party,” he said.

Additionally, Povero stated that officials are working on accident reconstruction and taking into account certain elements such as track lighting and the racing surface itself.

Check back frequently here at Rubbings Racing as this story will be updated as it develops. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter @RubbingsRacing.

UPDATE – 8/10, 1:38pm ET:

Stewart, who elected to not participate in Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen released the following statement on Sunday afternoon — breaking his silence following the tragic events at Canandaigua Speedway.

“There aren’t words to describe the sadness I feel about the accident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr. It’s a very emotional time for all involved, and it is the reason I’ve decided not to participate in today’s race at Watkins Glen. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and everyone affected by this tragedy.”

UPDATE – 8/10, 12:14pm ET:

In response to Saturday night’s event at nearby Canandaigua Speedway, NASCAR released the following statement Sunday morning at Watkins Glen International:

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends, and fellow competitors of Kevin Ward Jr. We support Tony Stewart’s decision to miss today’s race and we will continue to respect the process and timeline of the local authorities and will continue to monitor this situation moving forward.”

UPDATE – 8/10, 10:43am ET:

As a reult of Saturday night’s tragedy at Canandaigua Speedway, Tony Stewart has elected not to compete in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355. Current JR Motorsports driver in the Nationwide Series, Regan Smith will fill in for Stewart in the familiar Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14.

Vice President of Competition for Stewart-Haas Racing, Greg Zipadelli briefed the media at Watkins Glen International to announce the change of plans.

“Our hearts go out to, obviously, Kevin and his family, thoughts and prayers.  This is a very tough, very emotional time for everybody,” said Zipadelli. ” His family, our family at Stewart-Haas, Tony Stewart, so, with that being said, we feel that as a group Tony will not drive today, Regan Smith is on his way up.”

UPDATE – 8/10, 3:03am ET:

Ontario (N.Y.) Country Sheriff Phil Povero spoke to the media just moments ago and confirmed that driver Kevin Ward Jr. was transported to a local hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival at 11:15 local time.

Additionally, Povero stated that Tony Stewart has been cooperative with the Sheriff’s Department and is believed to be back at Watkins Glen International in advance of Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355.

“Mr. Stewart has  been fully cooperative,” Povero said. “He is very upset and confirmed his continuing cooperation.”

“People that witnessed it (the accident) were horrified,” he continued. ” They were extremely shocked. The people at Canandaigua Speedway have cooperated fully.”

According to Jim Utter of the Charlotte Observer, who spoke with sources close to Stewart, the three-time Sprint Cup Series champion still plans to compete Sunday at Watkins Glen.

Povero wrapped up his brief statement by stating that an autopsy will be conducted as part of the investigation that is being treated as accidental rather than criminal at this time.

UPDATE – 8/10, 1:23am ET:

Canandaigua Motorsports Park released the following statement early Sunday morning in relation to the incident involving Tony Stewart:

“Canandaigua Motorsports Park will not have an official statement on the accident that happened in the ESS race until tommorow.
Please pray for the entire racing community of fans, drivers, and families.
Please be respectful in any comments.”

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About Kyle Brandt

Kyle Brandt is a co-owner and the Managing Editor at Rubbings Racing. He can be followed on Twitter (@kbrandtMRS) for the latest motorsports updates and information.

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