Tyler Graves, a friend of Kevin Ward Jr. (pictured) who witnessed Saturday’s fatal incident, says he does not think Tony Stewart hit Ward intentionally, though he believes Stewart should be put in jail forever.
Graves spoke with Sporting News racing reporter Bob Pockrass and described what he saw at the Empire Super Sprints race at Canandaigua Motorsports Park.
“Tony pinched him into the frontstretch wall, a racing thing,” Graves told Sporting News. “The right rear tire went down, he spun on the exit of (Turn) 2. They threw the caution and everything was toned down. Kevin got out of his car. … He was throwing his arms up all over the place at Tony for most of the corner.
“I know Tony could see him. I know how you can see out of these cars. When Tony got close to him, he hit the throttle. When you hit a throttle on a sprint car, the car sets sideways. It set sideways, the right rear tire hit Kevin, Kevin was sucked underneath and was stuck under it for a second or two and then it threw him about 50 yards.”
Ward was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. Though police are investigating the incident, they have not charged Stewart with a crime.
Graves, who is also a race-car driver, told Pockrass he did not think Stewart did it intentionally.
Graves said it appeared to him that Stewart swerved before gunning the engine but he did not believe it was intentional.
“You never mean to do something like that,” Graves said. “Kevin was pissed and he let Tony know. And Tony was trying to give the message back that he wasn’t happy either. He went over the line with it.”
Graves did tell Pockrass he does not think Stewart should be racing and that Stewart should be “put in prison for life.”
Stewart is scheduled to start 13th in Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen.