Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Condolences to Kevin Ward, Tony Stewart is Blameless

The staff at FHR Publishing sends our condolences to the family of Kevin Ward Jr. for their loss.  We also suggest that, based upon the current publicly available evidence, the public refrain from blaming Tony Stewart.  While the investigation is ongoing, even the investigating officer has said that, so far, there is no evidence of criminal intent.

While simply being a racing fan does not make anyone an expert, it does usually give them enough knowledge of the customs to be able to speak a little bit towards an incident like this.  Being a race fan also means that when something like this happens, there is a sense of being compelled to render an opinion.

Some things of note to the FHR Publishing staff include:
  1. Ward was outside his car, on a poorly lit track, wearing a black firesuit.
  2. Spring cars have poor visibility, especially on the driver's right side of the car.
  3. Traction on a clay track is dicey at best.
  4. Ward sought out a confrontation.
  5. Ward approached Stewart's car, and may have actually stepped in front of it, instead of trying to make his point while maintaining a safe distance.
  6. Ward didn't have any safety personnel by him at the time of the accident, to keep him from acting too aggressively.
  7. Drivers generally keep to a code, that doing anything that puts drivers at serious risk is something they won't do.  That's why, at dangerous tracks like Daytona and Talladega, where packs of cars are drafting inches apart at 220 mph, drivers will avoid being too aggressive until the last few laps.  As such, it is unconscionable that any driver would intentionally aim their car at an unprotected human being.  On a slow track like Bristol, spinning another car might be fair game, but making contact with any person is always off-limits, drivers just will never do that because they know they could potentially kill someone.
  8. Stewart appeared to try to swerve at the last minute to avoid Ward.  Evidence of this includes the fact that it was the rear tire that made contact with Ward.  If Stewart had been going straight the front tire would have also made contact.
  9. The initial contact between the cars, which resulted in Ward's car spinning, is a common occurrence in sprint car racing.
In the end, the staff at FHR Publishing feels strongly that the facts available at the moment support a conclusion that Stewart is probably blameless in this tragic incident.  Of course, should new facts emerge, this opinion is open to revision.

We seek no ill will towards Ward's family, and are not looking to tarnish Ward's name.  However, similar to the accident that claimed the life of driver Paul Dana a few years back, reflecting on the actions of all parties, and how their actions contributed to the fatal accident, is critical towards ensuring the future safety of other drivers.

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