As hours become days, we’re still trying to make sense of what unfolded at Canandaigua Motorsports Park on Saturday night, when Kevin Ward Jr. was killed in a crash with NASCAR icon Tony Stewart.
“Honestly, in some ways, I don’t know that we’re much further than where we were early Sunday morning when (Ontario County) Sheriff (Philip C.) Povero first talked to the media, and in a lot of ways, I think we’re pretty far on down the road,” Sirius XM NASCAR host Brad Gillie said on The MoJo Show. “The statements that keep coming out are essentially the same – that nothing indicates to him that any criminal activity has gone on. They’ll continue to investigate it as they should, and basically they’re just still looking for more facts and more information.”
Ward, as many assumed, died of blunt force trauma from the accident.
“More and more, it’s just simply sounding like this was just an unfortunate accident and a huge tragedy,” Gillie said. “No matter what, it’s a sad situation and it’s really tough for all involved. Certainly a lot of thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”
Stewart said as much in a written statement, but many people wanted to hear more from him. In fact, they wanted to hear from Stewart directly.
“He put out a statement, and it was just a pretty basic statement – nothing more than you would expect,” Gillie said. “I’m sure everyone would love to hear from Tony. I’m sure everyone would love to hear from Tony’s mouth his side of the story, but I don’t know if Tony’s ready to give that. The fact of the matter is, yes, Kevin Ward lost his life and that’s a horrible tragedy. But Tony was behind the wheel of the car that this happened with, and I can’t imagine that he’s feeling good right now.”
“I don’t know that I’m in a rush to hear from Tony unless there was actually really important information that we as the public felt we needed to know, and I don’t know that we necessarily need to know anything from him right now. The fact that he’s cooperating with law enforcement and with authorities, I think, is (important). They’re hearing what they need to hear from him. It would be nice to hear his version of everything, but I don’t feel like I need to hear that today.”
Still, Stewart didn’t help his cause when he said he planned on racing the day after Ward died. Eventually, Stewart decided against that.
“That was a weird situation (Sunday) morning,” Gillie said. “All of this was very fresh. It was literally hours old, and I don’t know that everybody kind of knew what was going on. That’s a horrible quote to come out, but I don’t know necessarily if that’s exactly what was meant. I don’t think Tony felt like he could in good conscience (race). I don’t think he felt like he was in a good mindset to do that. Ultimately the right decisions were made, but for a while there, it did look really bad.”
It also looked bad for NASCAR, even though Ward was not killed in a NASCAR race. Nevertheless, many wonder if NASCAR – in light of Ward’s death – will implement penalties for drivers who leave their cars in non-life-threatening situations.
“That’s tough to say,” Gillie said. “All of these different racing series have their own set of rules. Safety is the important thing and sometimes the safest thing is not to stay in the car. But Kevin Ward just didn’t get out of his car. That would be one thing, if he was worried it was on fire or something else.”
“What he did (went) beyond that. (He) was walking down the track to basically send his message to Tony Stewart and (voice) his displeasure and it resulted where it did. So I think somewhere there’s a fine line. Rules need to have some common-sense value to them and some safety value to them, and the common-sense value to them should also be, look, if you got to get out of your car, don’t go out there walking in front of the other race cars.”