John Wes Townley, a former driver for NASCAR, has died. He was killed in a shooting in Athens, Georgia on Saturday at around 9 p.m. There was an unidentified woman who was injured and rushed to the hospital. Some reports state the woman was his estranged wife, Laura.
The shooting took place at the 200 block of Morton Avenue in the Five Points neighborhood according to Lt. Shaun Barnett. Townley was rushed to be treated by EMTs because of his injuries, but he sadly died at the hospital.
The woman also suffered serious injuries because of the shooting, but police wouldn’t give any details at this time.
Police have started an investigation into the death of the former NASCAR star, and they believe that it had something to do with domestic violence.
A 32-year-old Dunwoody man who knew both victims has been talked to in connection with the shooting. Police believe him to be the shooter, but no arrests or charges have been made at this time.
John Wes Townley was a former NASCAR driver who retired from the sport back in 2017. Over the course of his NASCAR career, the 31-year-old competed in 76 races across eight seasons of NASCAR. They were mainly in the truck series and they happened between 2008 and 2016.
Townley got his big win back in 2015 during the truck series at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The former NASCAR star raced with a truck owned by his father, Tony Townley, co-founder of Zaxby’s.
Since his death, fans of the former driver have flooded Twitter to express their sadness over the loss of John Wes Townley. Todd Bodine, who was a two-time NASCAR champion and analyst for Fox News said, “Absolutely devastating news about John Wes Townley. Praying for his family and Friends.”
Current NASCAR Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace, who spent some time racing against Townley, kept it short and sweet and said “Damn. Rest Easy JWT. Heartbreaking.”
John Wes Townley’s death occurred around the one-year anniversary of another loss for NASCAR racing. Last year on November, 24, 2020, NASCAR crew member William “Rowdy” Harrell was killed in a car crash while on his honeymoon with new wife, Blakley Harrell.
The couple was celebrating its new marriage in the Florida Keys when they were hit by a pickup truck that was trying to avoid Harrell when another truck drifted into their lane. Harrell worked for Hendrick Motorsports and his boss called him the heart and soul of the crew.
Harrell and his wife had only been married a couple days before their tragic death.
After the couple’s death, Hendrick Motorsports issued a statement regarding the loss of their crew member.
“Today, Hendrick Motorsports learned that team member William ‘Rowdy’ Harrell and his wife, Blakley, were tragically killed in an automobile accident in Florida last night,” the statement said. “The newlyweds were traveling to celebrate their honeymoon after being married on Saturday. Harrell, 30, was a stand-out tire carrier for Hendrick Motorsports for the last eight seasons, most recently with the No. 88 NASCAR Cup Series team of driver Alex Bowman,” the statement continued. “He was also a two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion pit crew member with JR Motorsports.”
Greg Ives, crew chief for Harrell, said that his former co-worker would continue to inspire their work and be kept in the crew’s memories.