A race-car driver says Kevin Ward Jr.’s death underneath Tony Stewart’s sprint car could have been avoided. He says this because he competed with both drivers Saturday night at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in New York and managed to drive past Ward without driving over him.
“I seen Kevin clear as day,” Paul Kinney told NBC News. “Nobody else ran into him, either.”
Critics of Stewart say that he hit the throttle in his approach to Ward under a caution flag. That action, they say, produced the fishtail effect in the sprint car on the dirt track that doomed the 20-year-old walking driver. Police, who say Stewart has cooperated fully, continue to investigate the event.
Kinney says he saw Ward’s face clearly as he passed. “I drove right by him,” Kinney explained to NBC News. “He looked a little bit angry. I didn’t think much of it. A lot of drivers do that.” By “that,” Kinney means to leave one’s car in the midst of a race. “It’s not a good idea to get out of your car and run towards other cars.”
Kinney told NBC he has watched video of the incident once. But he can’t bring himself to watch the death of his fellow racer again.
Despite managing to avoid Ward without incident, Kinney notes that his vantage point was not Tony Stewart’s vantage point. “Nobody can speak for Tony,” the thirty-year-old driver observes. “Only Tony knows exactly what happened.”