Canandaigua, New York -- It's a first of its kind tragedy on the track. The fatal incident happened a little more than halfway through Saturday night's 25 lap Sprint Car race. Three time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart's car struck fellow driver 20-year-old Kevin Ward, Jr. just moments after their cars had collided. "Particular interest at this time is forensic examination of any videos that might exist of this crash," said Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero.
Officials say Ward got out of his car on what was a dimly lit track and appeared to confront Stewart when he was hit. Ward was initially treated at the scene then taken to a hospital where he died a short time later. "It's just an unbelievable tragedy. Our hearts go out to obviously Kevin and his family... thoughts and prayers. This is a very tough, emotional time for everybody," said Stewart-Haas Racing Director Greg Zipadelli.
Stewart, one of the most famous faces in NASCAR, withdrew from Sunday's race at Watkins Glen, NY. "You know, he feels strongly that this is the right thing to do. We at SHR support it and agree with it. It's a, like I said, it's a difficult time for both parties," said Zipadelli.
Stewart had only recently returned to Sprint Cup racing after suffering a broken leg last year in Iowa just weeks later crashing on the same track as Saturday night's tragedy. Authorities say Stewart is fully cooperating. "As we speak at this time there is no evidence in hand or no facts that would support a criminal charge or support criminal intent on the part of anybody," said Povero.