Tony Stewart's Kentucky friends come to his defense after fatal collision

MGN Online

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - As the investigation into the death of another driver continues friends of Tony Stewart are coming to his defense.

Investigators say Stewart's car hit another driver, 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr., during a race in upstate New York on Saturday.

On Monday an autopsy found ward died of blunt force trauma. Video taken by a fan shows Ward had climbed out of his car after a crash when Stewart's car hit him on the dirt track.

Police have said they don't expect to file any charges at this point.

The people who know Tony Stewart are coming to his defense, including a man who lives in Lexington.

"Tony is not that type of person," said Chuck Hughes. "He's not going to go out at a local dirt track and try to beat up on some locals."

Hughes has known Stewart for almost 20 years. He met him when Stewart began driving on a friend's racing team.

"Followed him throughout the Midwest at every short dirt track from Richmond, Kentucky to Prestonsburg to Terre Haute, Indiana."

Which he says made it even more difficult when he saw that Stewart had been involved in the crash that killed Kevin Ward Jr.

"That's his life, he's not married, doesn't have children, that's his life is racing," Hughes said.

Hughes told WKYT's Victor Puente that as soon as he heard about what had happened with his friend he watched the video of the crash online. He says there's no doubt that this is both a tragedy and an accident.

"He (Ward) was driving a black car, had a black racing suit on, with a black helmet and they came around on the caution lap and it looked like the car in front of Tony almost hit him, and when that car moved he was right in the way of the car," Hughes said.

Whatever the outcome of that investigation Hughes hopes the attention this incident has received will bring about a change to make racing safer.

"Something positive (that could) come out of this would be a nationwide deal with all the track owners and things requiring if there's an accident for the driver to stay in the car unless there's a fire," he said.

Stewart's representatives have said they're not sure when he will return to racing but they say it will be his decision.

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