Nascar legend Tony Stewart has spoken out after one of his young drivers was thrown out of a car window and killed when his fiancé lost control in a road rage incident.
Ashlea Albertson, 24, was traveling home to Greenfield, Indiana, after vacationing with Jacob Kelly, 31, when the couple were caught up in a fatal fight with another driver on I-65 in County Jackson.
The cars collided and Kelly’s 2018 GMC Terrain swerved off the road, throwing Ashlea out the window as it flipped and rolled.
Ashlea was due to get married in March and fans learned of her death in a touching Facebook tribute from her father Todd.
She had recently beaten Stewart on the track and her mentor praised her as a “great racing driver” with an “infectious personality”.
Ashlea Albertson with her fiancé Jacob Kelly. The couple were due to marry in March next year
Ashley with her team manager, Nascar legend Tony Stewart
“I’ve also been caught up in road rage in the past,” Stewart said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.
“Hopefully we can honor Ashlea by controlling what we can control on the highway.
“Losing her is a sobering reminder of how precious life is.”
Ashlea’s death has rocked the racing community after it was revealed by her father, Todd Albertson on Facebook hours after Friday’s crash.
“She was a good girl and a better person,” he said.
“She loved racing, she loved the community and you all did so much for her.
“Please keep my family, her fiancé and everyone going through this in your thoughts and prayers.
“And for those hitting the track this weekend to enjoy their race, know that all she ever wanted to do was entertain and be loved by everyone who followed her.
“Enjoy life and every moment, we never know when our time is.”
Racing fans hailed her as one of the most promising young drivers on the circuit
Ashlea said there was ‘nothing quite like’ the feeling she got behind the wheel
Hundreds of people responded to her message, including Kati Kantz who told her she was one of the first on the scene.
“My son called 911 and I stayed with her until emergency personnel showed up,” she wrote.
Ashley’s Facebook page was quickly filled with tributes from shocked fans
“She clung to you.
“May she rest in peace and may God watch over you and your family.”
Indiana State Police say the couple were driving north when they came across a 2016 Chevrolet Malibu, driven by 22-year-old Austin Cooper, near the 48-mile marker.
“Evidence from the scene, including video footage captured by another vehicle, indicated that both drivers began to accelerate rapidly and refused to let the other vehicle pass,” Sergeant Stephen Wheeles reported.
“Cooper’s vehicle then began to change lanes into the path of Kelly’s vehicle.
“Jacob Kelly lost control of his vehicle and spun resulting in the two vehicles colliding in the middle of the northbound lanes.
“Kelly’s vehicle rolled resulting in the ejection of a passenger, Ashlea Albertson, 24, of Greenfield, Indiana, from the vehicle.
“Cooper’s vehicle left the east side of the roadway and came to rest in a field.”
Ashlea and her fiancé were airlifted to University of Louisville Hospital where Ashlea was pronounced dead and Kelly was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
Cooper and his passenger were transported to Schneck Medical Center in Seymour, Indiana, where they were both treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
No arrests have been made but police are awaiting the results of toxicology reports on the two drivers.
Ashlea had spoken of her joy in racing, telling the Greenfield Reporter “I like driving in the dirt”.
Debris from the couple’s car litters I-65 in Indiana after the crash that sent it rolling down the freeway
The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu, driven by Austin Cooper, ended up in a field off I-65 in Jackson County after colliding with the 2018 GMC Terrain that Ashlea was driving in
“Sliding is the best feeling ever,” she explained, “there’s nothing quite like it.”
Drivers paid tribute to her on Saturday in Shelbyville, Indiana, at an event she was scheduled to compete in.
“I’m going to think of Ashlea every time I think I’m going to get road rage,” team manager Rom Combs told WTHR.
‘Ashlea will be in the back of my head. Stop, slow down and do the right thing.