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- American racing driver and team owner
Kevin Ward Sr. wants to know Tony Stewart's side of the story.
Ward Sr. spoke with Syracuse.com on Tuesday and said he believed Stewart put his son into the wall before Kevin Ward Jr. climbed from his car to confront Stewart and was struck and killed by Stewart's right-rear tire on Saturday night at a dirt track in upstate New York.
"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," Ward Sr. told Syracuse.com.
Ward Sr. described his son, 20, as someone who slept with a smile on his face and who loved racing. At age 8, he was already tinkering with motors.
Stewart and Ward were racing in turn two at the Canandaigua Motorsports Park when Stewart moved up in front of Ward and Ward hit the wall. Evidence of contact on the video of the incident is inconclusive at best; it doesn't look like there was any at all, but Stewart did appear to take the line of Ward's away.
"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," Ward Sr. said.
Thirteen seconds after his car came to a stop, Ward got out of his car and scrambled down the track. The car Stewart was following closely swerved to the left at the last second to miss Ward, who was wearing a black helmet and firesuit to match his car.
"Apparently, Tony Stewart was the only one driving out there who didn't see him," Ward Sr. said.
Ward was attended to on the track and transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Ward Sr. told Syracuse.com that he and his wife were told by their daughter that Ward had died 10 minutes before they got the news from a doctor. The daughter, who wasn't at the track, had read something on Facebook.
When you're racing locally like the Ward family, it's not a lucrative proposition. Ward Sr. said that their team raced for the love of the sport and Ward wanted to race in the World of Outlaws, which is the top level of sprint car racing. Of the 500-some trophies at the family shop, Ward Sr. estimated that 350 were his son's.
Stewart made his way through the sprint car ranks before moving to the IndyCar Series and eventually NASCAR.
Ontario County (N.Y.) Philip Povero has said multiple times that there has been no evidence found so far in the investigation to warrant any criminal charges and said Tuesday that the investigation could take two more weeks. Stewart has spoken and been cooperative with authorities, though what he's said has not become public. Ward Sr. wants to know.
"The one person that knows what happened that night is possibly facing 10 years in prison. Is he going to say what he done?" Ward Sr. said.
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