Kevin Ward, Jr.: More Than A Driver - myfoxcarolinas.com

Kevin Ward, Jr.: More Than A Driver

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Kevin Ward, Jr. died Saturday night in a sprint car race at Canandaigua Motorsports Park following an on track incident with NASCAR driver Tony Stewart. While Ward's birthplace is listed as Port Leyden, NY, the people in the next village over, Lyons Falls, count the 20-year-old and his family as their own.

“This area loves the Ward family,” said Tiffany Axtell, who works at a local hardware store. “They've been around this area forever. They're very well known. Everybody in the family is a good person, just a genuinely good person. So, they are very well liked.”

Ward's family owns Westward Painting, Co., a sandblasting and maintenance coatings business in the village. Kevin Ward, Sr. and Jr. worked there as a team.

“They were very close,” she said. “They did everything together. He worked with his dad doing the painting. Then, they sponsor him for the racing and he's been racing since he was four and everybody followed it.”

People who live in the village offered mixed feelings Monday afternoon. Some people more than willing to talk about the late racer, others wanted to see the attention off of their town and the grieving family. Some just want Kevin Ward to be remembered for who he was and not how he died.

“It seems like Kevin has been pushed aside a little bit,” said Tara Humble, who works at a local pizzeria. “And, it's more focused on (Tony Stewart) and NASCAR. I really think that they should be talking about the family and the loss of a really great kid.”

The loss has impacted many of the people living in this small foothills community at the base of the Adirondacks.

“When something like this happens to someone like him: just so young and full of life, and happy, you know, and try anything once,” Axetell said. “It's a shock. I still can't believe it. I'm still in shock.

It's just so sad.”

Services for Kevin Ward, Jr. will be held in Turin, NY this Thursday.

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