TAYLOR — The images are hard to ignore: driver Kevin Ward, 20, on a dirt track in Upstate New York moments before he was hit and killed by the car driven by NASCAR star Tony Stewart.
Ward can be seen on the Canandaigua Motorsports Park track after leaving his car, making a pointing gesture.
Was Ward at fault for getting out of his car?
Or was Stewart driving too aggressively?
At The Winners Circle in Taylor, a pub that caters to race fans, some people felt Ward made a deadly mistake.
“I think if he had stayed in that car he would still be alive,” John “Vegas” Hudak said.
Waitress Angie Emond said she has sons the same age as Ward. She said she understands how a young adult’s temper can flare.
“They don’t think. You get in a car accident or something and you panic. I think that is what happened,” Emond said.
Former Pro Driver Joe Amato is a veteran of the raceway and knows Stewart personally.
“I don’t think there is a chance Tony was gunning for him. Tony Stewart is a class guy. He wouldn’t even entertain the thought,” said Amato.
Stewart often visited smaller tracks before a major event. Just one week ago he raced at Selinsgrove Speedway. According to the race track’s Facebook page, Ward also competed there in the past.
The debate continues on social media.
One person wrote on the WNEP Facebook page, “Stewart should go to jail.”
Stewart did pull out of Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen and released a statement saying in part, “There are no words to describe the sadness I feel about the accident that took the life of of Kevin Ward Jr.”