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Nascar legend Tony Stewart has spoken out after one of his young drivers was thrown from a car window and killed when her fiancé lost control during a road rage incident.
Ashlea Albertson, 24, was returning home to Greenfield, Indiana, from a vacation with Jacob Kelly, 31, when the couple were caught up in a fatal tussle with another driver on the I-65 in Jackson County.
The cars collided and Kelly’s 2018 GMC Terrain span off the road, throwing Ashlea from a window as it flipped over and rolled.
Ashlea was due to marry in March and fans learned of her death in an emotional Facebook tribute from her father Todd.
She had recently beaten Stewart on the track and her mentor paid tribute to her as a ‘great race car driver’ with an ‘infectious personality’.
Ashlea Albertson with fiancé Jacob Kelly. The couple were due to get married in March next year
Ashley with her team manager, the Nascar legend Tony Stewart
‘In the past, I’ve also gotten caught up in road rage,’ Stewart said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.
‘I hope that 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 shaken the racing community after it was revealed by her father, Todd Albertson on Facebook within hours of Friday’s crash.
‘She was a good kid and a better person,’ he said.
‘She just loved racing, she loved the community and you all have done so much for her.
‘Please keep my family, her fiancé, and everybody who is going through this in your thoughts and prayers.
‘And for those going to the track this weekend to enjoy their racing please know that all she ever wanted to do was to entertain and be loved by each and everyone who followed her.
‘Enjoy life and every moment of it, we never know when our time is.’
Racegoers hailed her as one of the most promising young drivers on the circuit
Ashlea said there was ‘nothing like’ the feeling she got from being behind the wheel
Hundreds of people responded to his post including Kati Kantz who told him she had been 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 was holding on for you.
‘May she rest in peace and may God watch over you and your family.’
Indiana State Police said the couple were driving northbound when they found themselves next to a 2016 Chevrolet Malibu, being driven by Austin Cooper, 22, near the 48 mile marker.
‘Evidence from the scene, including video footage captured by another vehicle, indicated that the two drivers began accelerating rapidly and refused to allow the other vehicle to pass,’ reported Sergeant Stephen Wheeles.
‘Cooper’s vehicle then began to change lanes into the path of Kelly’s vehicle.
‘Jacob Kelly lost control of his vehicle and spun, which resulted in the two vehicles colliding in the middle of the northbound lanes.
‘Kelly’s vehicle rolled, which resulted in a female passenger, Ashlea Albertson, age 24, Greenfield, Indiana being ejected from the vehicle.
‘Cooper’s vehicle left the east side of the roadway and came to rest in a field.’
Both Ashlea and her fiance were flown 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 both drivers.
Ashlea had spoken about her joy in racing, telling the Greenfield Reporter ‘I like to drive in the dirt’.
Debris from the couple’s car lies strewn across the I-65 in Indiana after the crash that sent it rolling across the highway
‘The sliding is the best feeling ever,’ she explained, ‘There’s nothing like it.’
Drivers paid tribute to her in Shelbyville, Indiana, on Saturday at an event she was due to race in.
‘I’m going to think about Ashlea every time I think I’m going to have road rage,’ team manager Rom Combs told WTHR.
‘Ashlea will be in the back of my head. Stop, slow down and do what’s right.’