Local NASCAR community reflects on tragedy involving Tony Stewart

STOKES COUNTY, N.C. — Saturday night’s wreck involving Tony Stewart hits home for many drivers in the Triad.

NASCAR driver Tony Stewart hit and killed another driver who was walking on a track during a dirt-track race in upstate New York.

Kevin Ward Jr., 20, died from injuries suffered in the incident, which occurred Saturday night at the Empire Super Sprints series event at the Canandaigua Motorsports Park.

It’s not unusual for some NASCAR drivers to race on smaller speedways – Stewart raced at 311 Motor Speedway seven years ago.

Everyone agrees that the death of the young driver was a tragedy, but now folks are rethinking race safety.

Mike Fulp owns 311 Motor Speedway in Stokes County. He said he understands that tempers flare during the races, but safety comes first with speeds up to 140 miles per hour.

“Always expect the worse to happen when you run a race track, because you know it can happen,” Fulp said.

At 311 Motor Speedway, he said drivers cannot get out of their cars until it is safe. He said they will be fined and disqualified if they do.

Fulp said anyone involved in an accident on the track must stay in the car until directed by safety crews.

No one is allowed to inspect damages unless there is a fire.

“It’s no use of arguing and fussing and fighting , just come and put a show on for the fans,” Fulp said.

Those that do not comply and get out of the car will result in $100 for each person and disqualification for the race.

The driver that was killed in New York got out of his car after a crash.

“Hopefully we can find the good in it and something good will come out of this tragedy,” said driver Mike Robertson.

Robertson said he hopes other drivers will learn from the crash and learn to control their temper during competition.

Last year, Robertson lost his cool at Bowman Gray Stadium when he got out of his car after a crash and was drug around the track.

“If you can take a few moments to collect your thoughts, it’ll be a better situation, but at that moment for myself, I didn’t,” he said. “I tried to react and the rest is on YouTube.”

Both Fulp and Robertson said they don’t believe Stewart meant any harm. They said this is a tragic accident that other drivers should pay close attention to.

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