'I Saw Him Clear as Day': Rival Driver Disputes Stewart's Story on Fatal Crash
The legal questions persist following the fatal crash in which NASCAR superstar Tony Stewart ran over Kevin Ward Jr. during a dirt race. Now, another driver in the race says that he saw Ward "clear as day" on the track and easily avoided him.
Ward had gotten out of his car, running onto the track to confront Stewart after the two collided, sending Ward's car into the wall.
"It's not a good idea to get out of your car ... but nobody can speak for Tony. Only Tony knows exactly what happened," Kinney said in an interview with NBC News. "I [saw] Kevin clear as day. Nobody else ran into him either."
Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. reacted this morning on Fox and Friends, saying this could increase the chances of Stewart being charged with a crime. But he added that criminal intent in such a case will be difficult to prove.
Johnson pointed out that Stewart does have an unfortunate history of outbursts on the track and has made threatening comments to fellow drivers.
Stewart said about driver Joey Logano in 2013, "If he ever turns down across in front of me again, I don't care what lap it is, he won't make it through the other end of it."
Johnson also discussed recent comments from the family of Alysha Ruggles - a driver who suffered a fractured back in a 2013 crash caused by Stewart at the same track.
A cousin of Ruggles believes Stewart was attempting to spin his wheels near Ward in order to spray him with dirt, but that the stunt went horribly wrong.
“I’m upset because last year, Stewart did the same thing to my cousin, Alysha. He pushed her out of the way, broke her back and almost killed her,” said Greg Cooper, 44, a cousin of sprint-car driver Alysha Ruggles, on Tuesday.
Ruggles, then 19, suffered a fractured back after her car was struck in a 15-car pileup caused by Stewart at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in July 2013.
Cooper was at the track Saturday when Stewart fatally struck fellow driver Kevin Ward Jr. after Ward angrily got out of his car to confront Stewart about being knocked off course.
Cooper said it was clear to him that Stewart was trying to teach the younger driver a lesson by “stoning’’ him with mud, or getting close enough to spray dirt on him. Only things went horribly awry.
“[Stewart] has the audacity to come back this year and thinks he could just push more people around — this time, it was stoning a kid with mud,’’ Cooper said.
“Stewart did this on purpose. He saw Ward out there and wanted to say ‘screw you’ in some way. He was just too close and ended up hitting him.
“You could see his car do a little whiplash maneuver in the video if you watch it closely. It definitely looked like he was trying to splash mud all over Kevin Ward.
“He’s responsible, plain and simple,’’ Cooper insisted, adding that he thought Stewart should be banned from racing.
Ontario County authorities are investigating whether the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion may have hit his throttle moments before smashing into Ward. Lighting at the track also is being reviewed.
The investigation is expected to take at least two more weeks, Sheriff Philip Povero said Tuesday.
“Investigators continue to seek witnesses,” Povero said.
He told The Post that video taken that night will be crucial in determining whether Stewart is criminally responsible for Ward’s death.
“It’s in the videos. We need the videos. If they are out there, we’ll get them,” the sheriff said.
A video of the crash surfaced over the weekend. Investigators are now reportedly looking at a second video of the crash.