by Corinne Heller | Sun., Aug. 10, 2014 9:31 AM
NASCAR champion Tony Stewart is under police investigation after hitting and killing a fellow driver, Kevin Ward Jr., during a Sprint dirt-track car race.
The two had competed in the Empire Super Sprints series event at the Canandaigua Motorsports Park in Canandaigua in Upstate New York on Saturday. Ward was 20 years old. Stewart's spokesperson called the incident a "tragic accident," according to CNN. No criminal charges have been filed.
Ward's vehicle had crashed into an outside wall during a lap after being clipped by another driver, who is believed to have been Stewart, 43. Ward then got out of his car and started walking on the track to confront the NASCAR champion, according to reports. A graphic video of the incident posted by CNN shows him pointing a finger and yelling. One car swerves to avoid him, while Stewart's No. 14 vehicle passes next to him and appears to strike him. Ward was taken to a hospital and died of his injuries.
"Tony was unhurt, but a fellow competitor lost his life," the rep said. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends."
The case is under investigation as a suspected "on-track crash," Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero told CNN. "I want to make it very clear—there are no criminal charges pending at this time," he added.
Meanwhile, Stewart has dropped out Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race. Regan Smith will drive his car.
Ward began racing at age 4, on go-kart tracks, according to his official website. In 2012, he won the title of 2012 Empire Super Sprint Rookie of the Year.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends, and fellow competitors of Kevin Ward Jr.," NASCAR said in a statement to NBC Sports. "We support Tony Stewart's decision to miss today's race and we will continue to respect the process and timeline of the local authorities and will continue to monitor this situation moving forward."