Auto racing: Father of killed driver lashes out at Tony Stewart

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The father of the driver run over and killed by Tony Stewart said that “there’s no reason for” the crash that led to his son’s death.

Kevin Ward Jr. was sent into the wall when his car was bumped by Stewart’s in a dirt-track race on Saturday night in Canandaigua, N.Y. Ward got out of the car and walked onto the track, where he was hit by Stewart.

Kevin Ward Sr. told The Syracuse Post-Standard that “Tony Stewart was the best damn driver by far on the track that night. Why he had to go up as high as he did and hog my son, there’s no reason for it.”

When the 20-year-old Ward got out of his damaged car, he walked on the track and appeared to point at Stewart. Other cars drove past him, but Stewart’s right-rear tire appeared to hit him and drag him along the track.

“Apparently, Tony Stewart was the only one driving out there who didn’t see him,” Ward told the newspaper.

Noting that his son had never before left his car during a race, Ward added, “I think the reason he probably got out of that car is who put him into the wall. He was definitely put into the wall.”

No charges have been filed against Stewart, but they are still possible.

Ward also addressed that in his interview, saying: “The one person that knows what happened that night is possibly facing 10 years in prison. Is he going to say what he done?”

Any decision to charge Stewart is seen by defense lawyers as depending on whether prosecutors believe the incident could have been avoided.

A finding by investigators that there was an act that was “extremely reckless,” such as veering close to Ward to scare him, might give rise to charges said Richard Harpootlian, a defense attorney and former prosecutor in Columbia, S.C.

Investigators are still seeking witnesses and gathering evidence from the incident at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in upstate New York, as well as developing a reconstruction of the crash, Ontario County Sheriff Philip C. Povero said in a statement.

Povero declined to give details or findings of the probe, saying his office will conduct a “thorough review of all relevant facts” surrounding the crash and will meet with the Ontario County District Attorney’s Office to discuss all aspects of the investigation.

Meanwhile, NASCAR could issue an edict as early as this weekend’s race at Michigan International Speedway that makes it mandatory for drivers to stay in their cars until safety personnel arrive.

Tracks around the country have changed their rules in the wake of Ward Jr.’s death.

Brad Keselowski, the 2012 Sprint Cup champion, said it could be tough for NASCAR to enforce a similar rule.

“I’m not aware of any rule or law that works without the ability to enforce it,” he said. “I don’t know how you can enforce a rule like that unless you had a robot on the track to grab the person and put them back in the car. The only way you can enforce it is with a penalty system afterwards. Really, at that point, it’s not effective. It’s a difficult rule to try to make work.”

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