A former NASCAR driver was killed in a shooting in Georgia that left another person injured. According to the Associated Press, John Wes Townley died in the shooting in Athens on Saturday night. He was 31 years old. The person injured was a 30-year-old woman but police didn't reveal any further details on her injuries.
Police said they spoke to the shooter, who knew the two victims. No charges have been filed, but Athens-Clarke County Police Lt. Shaun Barnett said the shooting appeared to be domestic violence-related. The investigation of the shooting is ongoing.
Former NASCAR driver John Wes Townley has died at the age of 31 after a shooting in Athens, Georgia. pic.twitter.com/MYvzXdRsqS— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) October 3, 2021
Townley competed in 186 races across the NASCAR Xfinity and Truck Series in eight seasons. His only win came in 2015 when he came in first at the Rhino Linings 350 in Las Vegas. He is the son of Zaxby's co-founder Tony Townley, and the company backed John during his facing career. As mentioned by CBS Sports, Townley had his share of crashes early in his career but would settle as he gained more experience.
In an interview with USA Today in 2015, Townley talked about how he deals with an angry driver. "Well, it depends on if I intended on doing it or not - which is rare," he said. "Unless it's like revenge or something like that, I'll rarely ever move somebody or spin them out or anything like that. If it's accidental and I legitimately am sorry about it, I'll apologize. But if it's a situation where there's already like a grudge going on, I can be bad about fighting fire with fire and making the situation worse at times."
2015 was Townley's best in his NASCAR career, finishing eighth in the Truck Series points standings. But one year later, Townley retired from racing and finished his career with five top fives, 24 top 10s and two poles in 110 starts in the Truck Series. On the Xfinity Series, Townley's best finish is 13th in multiple races.
Many fans paid tribute to Townley on social media. "It's always been fun and popular to give John Wes Townley s— on here, and I know I always did as well, but I'll go on the record and leave with this - the one time I actually did meet him at a race, he was an extremely nice guy," one person wrote.
Another fan added: "I am so shocked to hear that John Wes Townley, the man who I got his autograph at berlin 5 years ago for the ARCA race, tragically died last night from a gunshot during a home invasion. My thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family from this tragic event."