Kevin Ward Jr. would be alive had “volatile superstar” Tony Stewart exercised the degree of caution exhibited by six other sprint car drivers and not aggressively driven toward Ward, his parents claim in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Kevin Ward Sr. and his wife, Pam Ward, are asking a federal judge to deny Stewart’s motion to dismiss multiple claims against him in the lawsuit.

Stewart, 45, and Ward Jr., 20, competed in an Empire Super Sprints race the night of Aug. 9, 2014, at Canandaigua (New York) Motorsports Park, where Stewart’s car struck and killed Ward.

A forensic analysis performed by an engineering firm hired by the Wards, Gordon Engineering of Henrietta, New York, concludes that Stewart was at fault, according to court documents. Specifically, it states:

  • Stewart did not follow caution procedures by slowing down and driving low on the track, like other drivers did
  • Ward remained relatively stationary outside the path where six preceding cars passed, and he did not cause the impact
  • Stewart showed intentional disregard for Ward’s safety
  • Stewart steered toward Ward and applied the throttle, striking and killing him
  • Stewart’s cavalier and deliberate actions caused Stewart’s car to slide up the track and hit Ward

Ward’s parents filed the wrongful death lawsuit against the three-time NASCAR champion and Columbus resident on Aug. 4, 2015 — about 11 months after a 23-person Ontario County, New York, grand jury declined to indict Stewart on either of two charges: manslaughter in the second degree and criminally negligent homicide. The Wards did not specify an amount of money they are seeking in damages.

A hearing for the motion to dismiss is set for 10 a.m. April 28 in New York’s Northern District court, but both parties have until Friday to complete a mandatory mediation process to see if they can resolve the matter.

For more on this story, see Wednesday’s Republic.

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Kirk Johannesen is assistant managing editor of The Republic. He can be reached at or (812) 379-5639.