TURIN, N.Y. – Kevin Ward Jr.'s family and friends praised the dirt-track racer as a "small-town boy" who loved his sport during the funeral for the 20-year-old driver who was killed by NASCAR champion Tony Stewart.
More than 700 mourners jammed the South Lewis Senior High School the auditorium Thursday for the 90-minute service, a mix of tears and cheerful recollections of a young man who began racing at a young age.
Dylan Swiernick, Ward's best friend, said his car-obsessed buddy always wore a smile even on the roughest days.
Ward, a 2012 South Lewis graduate, is being buried in his nearby hometown of Port Leyden.
Ward was killed Saturday night at a track 140 miles away in Canandaigua, where Stewart was riding a day before the Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen.