Almost the totality of media immediately convicted with headlines that included some form of "...Stewart killed..."
Only Tony Stewart and perhaps an onboard camera know what happened with certainly but at the time I, like almost everyone I know who is in any way involved in motorsport, wondered why Kevin Ward Jr. would crawl out of a wreck and run around a live racetrack looking for a fight with a moving car.
Clearly, I'm not a oval racing enthusiast...
Now, aside from a shocking lack of any safety protection for infield workers, public or drivers, as pointed out by Motorsport Safety Foundation's founder Henrique Cisneros, I would argue that when you have a form of racing where policemen are regularly on hand to restrain drivers, you have a systemic problem.
Motoring journalist Jack Baruth, explores in a piece in his personal blog:
...I think young Mr. Ward knew this was his chance to get on television and raise his profile as a driver. I think it was a calculated move. I think he wanted to maximize a situation. Face it — even if Stewart hadn’t hit him, it would have made highlight reels and would have put his name on people’s lips...
...So Kevin Ward, Jr. saw a chance to make a name for himself. To get lucky. To be the kid who faced down Tony Stewart on the highlight reel. But in his haste to do that, he didn’t think about the risks. Which, I would add, is a characteristic of nearly all successful drivers. If you sat and thought seriously about the risks, you’d never go wheel-to-wheel racing at all. He made a quick decision, a judgment call. That’s the way racing works.
It cost him his life.
Wasn't Kevin Ward Jr. trying to give what so many of those so quick to condemn Tony Stewart, exactly what they wanted?
Certainly, it was not racing because crowds are regularly whooping and hollering with delight at this kind of crap.