Tony Stewart said he tried to turn left when he realized Kevin Ward was on the track in a sprint car race in August 2014.
Stewart struck and killed Ward on Aug. 9, 2014 after the two were racing against each other in a race at Canandaigua Motorsports park in Ontario County, New York. Stewart and Ward were racing for position when Ward’s car hit the wall off the corner right behind Stewart. Ward exited his car to walk down the track to confront Stewart and was hit by the right-rear tire of Stewart’s car.
Ward’s family filed a wrongful death suit vs. Stewart in 2015. A hearing regarding the suit is schedule for April 28. Stewart’s deposition, given in December, is part of the suit. From NBC Sports: (Stewart is the “A.” below)
Q. All right. Now, in relation to the car that was on the track, where was the person that you saw on the track?
A. Initially when I saw the car, I didn’t realize there wasn’t a driver in the car.
Q. But at some point you did?
Q. All right. And when you saw that person, did you from that point on change the direction of your vehicle based on seeing that person on the track?
A. It was a split second from the time that I saw a person until I got to the person.
Q. Okay. Is that a “no”?
A. I attempted to change direction.
Q. Okay. You don’t recall — and when you say you “attempted to change direction,” you attempted to change direction to the left down the track?
Stewart has said that the incident was an accident and his legal team has concluded that Stewart didn’t have enough time to react. A grand jury concluded in September of 2014 that Stewart wouldn’t face criminal charges.
The three-time Cup champion’s legal team’s reconstruction of the accident concludes that Stewart didn’t have enough time to react when he saw Ward on the track while the Ward family’s representation believes Stewart “intentionally caused his vehicle to move towards Mr. Ward.” The point of contention seems to center around the way that drivers control sprint cars on a dirt track. Drivers pitch the rear of their cars to the right to help corner to the left. And the right-rear tire is what hit Ward.
The driver directly ahead of Stewart under the caution flag testified that he believed the “Next guy in line was probably going to hit [Ward]” after he swerved away from Ward as the 20-year-old walked down the track.
Stewart’s deposition also includes discussion about his history of confrontation in NASCAR. He revealed that he once started a physical confrontation with Kurt Busch inside the NASCAR hauler at Daytona after “basically [Busch] was antagonizing us in front of the NASCAR officials and very inappropriately.”
Busch, joined the Cup Series team Stewart co-owns in 2014 and the three were teammates for three seasons until Stewart’s retirement after the 2016 season. Busch’s 2017 Daytona 500 win was Stewart’s first victory as a driver or owner.
More NASCAR on Yahoo Sports:
– – – – – – –