I can relate to the Tony Stewart situation somewhat. Labor Day 2006 I was driving from Brooklyn home to D.C. and hit a guy along I-78 in Pennsylvania. He had, for a reason unbeknownst to me, decided to bring his truck to a complete stop on an extremely busy Interstate highway on a very busy traffic day with the holiday. What's worse is he was standing next to his car. This wasn't the shoulder; this was a lane of traffic with a metal guardrail along the side of the lane. I didn't see this, of course, because I was two cars behind and facing an incline in the highway. It was broad daylight, but there was no way to see beyond the car in front of me so I kept my safe distance as we traveled along at around 60-65 mph. When the car in front of me suddenly swerved into the lane to the left (we were in the far right lane, the slow lane) I immediately hit my brakes to maintain a safe distance and once the stopped truck appeared considered (this happened in like 0.7 seconds) swerving into the left lane as well. Unfortunately, directly next to my Mazda 3 was a large pickup truck with a boat attached to the back. I couldn't get over. That's when I saw the driver standing next to the truck, on the passenger side. Perhaps he was fixing a flat tire; I never learned what he was doing. All I know is I slammed on the brakes, an impact with the stopped truck imminent, and my car jack knifed across two lanes of the highway before turning at a 90-degree angle and slamming directly into the side of the parked truck. By the time I came conscious I saw people standing next to me outside the car and I immediately said and repeated multiple times, "Oh my God...Oh my God...is he dead? Is he dead?"
I never saw the man. I only saw two total vehicles, a couple of ambulances, a fire truck and some police sirens. I was checked for injuries, which thankfully I hadn't sustained and the rest - talking to insurance, getting a rental car - was a blur until I ended back up in Brooklyn to spend another night with my then-girlfriend who's father was in town for the weekend as well.
It wasn't until six months or a year later that I learned the man had gotten caught between his parked truck and the guardrail when my car impacted. He had survived, but nearly lost both of his legs.
I almost killed a man, and although I wouldn't do anything differently than what I did that Labor Day, I asked God for forgiveness for being part of such a devastating injury to another human being. I've been hit head on in a car by a drunk driver - the day of my high school graduation - so I know the pain (physical and mental) of being in a major car accident.
I don't know if Tony Stewart tried to hit the guy. The video only shows a fan's point of view, not the ones that matter - those of Kevin Ward Jr. standing outside his car in the middle of a race or of noted hothead but stellar driver Stewart on the middle of a dirt track with low light with a swerving car in front of him. In NASCAR there is no "minimum safe distance"...you just go as fast as you can. I pray for Ward's family. I also pray for Stewart and the weight he's going to carry for the rest of his life.