Controversy surrounds racecar driver's sudden death - FOX 10 News |

Controversy surrounds racecar driver's sudden death

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The investigation into the Sprint Car crash involving NASCAR champion Tony Stewart, that killed a fellow driver, has found no evidence of criminal intent in Stewart's part.

The accident happened Saturday night in upstate New York.

On Monday, Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero said, “There are no facts to support any criminal behavior.” He added that that investigation is continuing and investigators are reviewing two videos captured by spectators that showed Kevin Ward, Jr., 20, getting out of his vehicle after hitting the wall, and then crossing the track to confront Stewart about it.

In the garage of the SET Racing team in Shorewood, Illinois, they are getting cars ready for their next race, but still talking about the Stewart crash.

“It was an unfortunate thing,” said LaVerne Spencer, President of lllini Racing, who reflected on what happened with his colleagues at SET Racing, which races Midget cars.

The SET team recently bought a Midget Racecar from a Tony Stewart affiliated team, and while those are smaller and less powerful cars than the ones Stewart was racing Saturday night, the rules of racing are the same after any crash. In his frustration, Ward violated the number one safety rule by trying to confront Stewart while the race was still underway.

“You're not supposed to get out of the car until the officials are there unless the car is on fire,” said Roger Engstrom, one of the partners in the SET Racing Team.

On social media, some people have pointed to Stewart's reputation as a confrontational hot head and suggested maybe he swerved at Ward to send the young driver a message.

Spencer, though, said drivers have too much respect to do something like that.

“I don't know of any driver, hot head or not who would do that,” he said.

Five time champion and Hall of Fame Midget Car driver Susan Spenser believes it is unlikely Stewart even saw Ward on the track.

“Number one you take in account our helmet. Our helmet, we only have so much peripheral vision, with the helmet on, and then you're in a car with very little visibility, cause we have to have all of our safety equipment around us, gotta have the car, gotta have the cage,” Spenser said.

She added that the Sprint cars also have panels on the right side of the cage to keep dirt from hitting the driver, which further blocks visibility.

Stewart, who dropped out of the race scheduled for Sunday, issued a statement saying, "There aren't words to describe the sadness I feel about the accident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr."

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