Tony Stewart hits, kills sprint car driver in upstate New York race

CANADAIGUA, N.Y. (WVLT/Submitted) -- NASCAR driver Tony Stewart struck and killed a fellow sprint car driver during a race Saturday night in upstate New York.

According to the Associated Press, the driver had climbed from his car and was on the track trying to confront Stewart during a race in Canandaigua, N.Y.

The Ontario County Sheriff's Department later identified the driver as Kevin Ward Jr., who was pronounced dead Saturday night at a Canandaigua hospital. Stewart was unhurt.

According to AP, Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero said his department's investigation is not criminal and that Stewart was "fully cooperative" and appeared "very upset" over what had happened.

"He was visibly shaken by this accident," Povero said.

A video of the crash at Canandaigua Motorsports Park showed Ward wearing a black helmet and firesuit on a dimly lit track, walking toward Stewart's car before being hit and hurtled 50 feet.

Povero said the 25-lap race was under caution when Ward was struck. Stewart's car was behind another before he hit Ward.

According to AP, a witness said it appeared Ward was trying to confront Stewart, the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion. The video showed Ward standing to the right of Stewart's familiar No. 14 car, which seemed to kick out from the rear and hit him.

"The next thing I could see, I didn't see [the other driver] anymore," witness Michael Messerly said. "It just seemed like he was suddenly gone."

The dirt track, about 30 miles southeast of Rochester, canceled the remainder of the race and later posted a message on its Facebook page encouraging fans to "pray for the entire racing community of fans, drivers, and families."

Stewart was scheduled to start 13th Sunday at NASCAR's Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International, and ESPN reported the sport's sanctioning body has no plans at this point to prevent him from racing.

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