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Driver who witnessed tragedy: Tony Stewart ‘did everything in his power … to avoid (Kevin Ward Jr.)’

Aug 13, 2014, 3:33 PM EST

Lost in all the resulting fallout of the Tony Stewart – Kevin Ward Jr. tragedy is a report by a fellow driver who was also in Saturday night’s fateful race field and witnessed the incident.

“From what I saw, Tony did everything in his power to turn down away from Kevin to avoid him,” sprint car driver Cory Sparks told Rochester.twc.news.com.

Sparks was a few cars behind Stewart on the racetrack but had a clear field of vision of what occurred, and said that videos that have been made public do not tell the whole story.

“People say that they heard the engine rev up and he gassed it,” Sparks said of Stewart. “In a sprint car, the only way to steer is you steer with the rear wheels as much as you do the steering wheel. In my opinion, what he did was he (Stewart) gassed it to turn down away from him (Ward).”

[ MORE: Kevin Ward’s father speaks out, questions Tony Stewart ]

Sparks also confirmed the belief of many that Stewart’s vision may have been limited and that Stewart likely did not see Ward until it was too late.

“Kevin was wearing all-black,” Sparks said. “A black fire suit, a black helmet, which in normal situations isn’t a big deal, they are to go with the colors of your car. It was tragic accident and a mistake was made.”

Although Ontario County (N.Y.) Sheriff Philip Povero has said his investigators have spoken to other racers, it was unclear from the Rochester.twcnews.com story if Sparks has been questioned yet by investigators about what he saw unfold on the racetrack.

[ MORE: Dan Patrick on Tony Stewart: “I want to know that this bothers him” (VIDEO) ]

“I think that the biggest thing is to remember Kevin Ward as a great race car driver, not a victim of Tony Stewart,” Sparks said.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

  1. mcsuave - Aug 14, 2014 at 2:36 PM

    Ward shares most of the culpability in his own death. If you leave the car in all black, under cover of darkness and walking towards Stewarts car, what would you expect? It was an extremely poor decision which cost him his life. More often then not, drivers try to approach a vehicle to hit with their helmet or bang on the car. This is not about Stewart. Poor decision by a 20 year old and heated words from a father who lost a son. NASCAR needs to strengthen the penalties for drivers leaving vehicles.

    • dre214dre - Aug 14, 2014 at 5:52 PM

      @mcsuave: You do understand this was a dirt track incident, NOT NASCAR! The style of car being raced was “sprint,” NASCAR is sponsored by the phone company Sprint. While to some it is still confusing, please try to get your series of cars correct.

      • dadteamm - Aug 14, 2014 at 7:04 PM

        Here lies the problem. Most of the people posting don’t understand the difference between NASCAR Sprint Cup and IRA Sprint Car racing. Two different identities. NASCAR has no say about the rules for this series, race or race track. The only thing that could come close to NASCAR having a say is if the team owner says you cannot race outside of NASCAR. It’s a terrible racing accident and there are only two people that know what happened. Kevin and Tony.

      • noworries2359 - Aug 15, 2014 at 9:49 AM

        nascar, indy car, sprint car…does it really matter? Nobody should be getting out of their car immediately after an accident..unless their life is in danger while in the car.

      • noworries2359 - Aug 15, 2014 at 9:52 AM

        Think of it like this, if he sits in his car, and waits..and yells at Tony after race…is he alive today?

  2. twpguy1964 - Aug 14, 2014 at 3:33 PM

    Give this a rest already. For every person who thinks Stewart is innocent, you have 1 that thinks he’s guilty. Now all this is , is pure stupidity with reporters just writing articles to get people arguing

  3. dlind87 - Aug 14, 2014 at 5:17 PM

    In other racing news Cory Sparks named as newest member of the Stewart-HAAS Racing Team.

    • zipmeister - Aug 14, 2014 at 11:05 PM

      Exactly!!! Cory and tony are now BFFs!!

  4. 50shooter - Aug 14, 2014 at 9:41 PM

    I’m reading a lot of these post and not one of them do any of the people posting know what they are talking about.
    So let’s get some facts about Sprint Cars. 1st there is no windshield, 2nd the view out the front is about 16inches high by about 2 1/2 feet wide, 3rd the wing on top of car has a top panel that’s up high on the left side of the car and low in the drivers view on the right of the car which is where Kevin was standing. 4th the drivers face is getting hit with mud all the time.
    5th no headlight. 6th the tire on the side was that hit Kevin is about 2 1/2 feet wide and about 3 foot tall.
    So with a poor lighting and a driver wearing all black with the view you have in the drivers seat Kevin was standing in a big blind spot of the car. These cars are nowhere close to any car these people are talking about. If you put some of these reporters in the driver seat of a Sprint Car they would be reporting a different story about Tony.
    Know what your talking about before you post don’t be a back seat driver.

    • zipmeister - Aug 14, 2014 at 11:10 PM

      Yes but it’s the same for all cars on the track and they missed the kid! Know what your talking about before you post don’t be a back seat driver.

      • hbk72777 - Aug 15, 2014 at 3:33 AM

        It’s you’re not your, use a period after “post”, and a comma after “Yes”.

      • noworries2359 - Aug 15, 2014 at 9:46 AM

        If I get into an accident on the highway…I am not getting out walking through traffic and yelling at the other guy that hit me….because it is unsafe and I may get hit. I am sorry the kid lost his life, but some responsibility has to be put on him.

      • renee85302 - Aug 15, 2014 at 2:19 PM

        @Zipmeister When you have a car in front of you that swerves at the last second, you can’t see ahead of them. Please know your facts before posting. This wasn’t Tony’s fault, and Kevin should have never been that close to moving vehicles.

      • thenicklemansbrothera - Aug 16, 2014 at 3:10 AM

        Watch the video. Ward moved toward the center of the track after every car went by.so other cars not hitting him has nothing to do with where he was when he was hit.

  5. jbq2 - Aug 14, 2014 at 11:53 PM

    What a “fairy tale”. Stewart “gunned” it and ran him down. No one and I mean no one insults the king and lives to tell the tale. “Pictures don’t tell the true story” of what happened. In what universe is this cad living? Pictures tell a thousand words. Lies tell only one.

  6. jimsgardentrains - Aug 15, 2014 at 8:04 AM

    Dallenbach is a never was and needs to keep his feeble advice to himself.

    • irishanglican ~ Fr. Robert - Aug 15, 2014 at 2:18 PM

      and who are you jim, and what is YOUR expertise?

    • ditto65 - Oct 9, 2014 at 8:57 PM

      From the looks of things his area of expertise is garden trains.

  7. photog645 - Aug 15, 2014 at 11:16 AM

    I am truly sad that Mr. Ward is deceased. However, he violated one of the BASIC rules of automotive competition, which is: NEVER GET OUT OF YOUR VEHICLE, UNLESS IT IS ON FIRE, IN A CRASH SITUATION UNTIL THE COURSE MARSHALS GET TO YOU AND TELL YOU IT IS OKAY TO EXIT! More to the point, not only did he get out of his vehicle, he walk out into the racing line! I have read a lot of posts since this happened and it is quite obvious that the most vicious ones are from people who have NO IDEA what they are talking about! Tony Stewart DID NOT hit Kevin Ward on purpose. In fact, he tried to avoid him. It is obvious that the stupid buttheads that are screaming that Stewart “gunned” his engine just before he hit Ward simply do not understand the dynamics of a sprint car. You steer them as much with the throttle as you do with the steering wheel! Stewart was trying to get the car to bite to move further down the track and avoid Ward! All of you people who are screaming for Stewart’s head need to take time to learn what you are talking about and rethink your position!

  8. renee85302 - Aug 15, 2014 at 2:17 PM

    Thank you for finally getting the story from someone actually involved in the race, who saw the truth about what happened.

  9. afehrenb87 - Aug 30, 2014 at 6:20 PM

    Thank you for all of you who really understand these cars, and understand that Tony didn’t mean to hit this young man. I am not familiar with such cars, so I will not pass judgement on Tony… I do know no matter what kind of car accident you’re in, you never get out of your car, and you never walk into traffic. It was an accident in my opinion.

  10. stew48 - Sep 26, 2014 at 1:42 PM

    Did Patrick really say that? If so, two things; first, it is absolutely none of Patrick’s business; and, second, Stewart has already commented about it and that should end any speculation.

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