Former NASCAR driver Townley killed in dispute involving estranged wife

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FILE – In this July 19, 2014, file photo, John Wes Townley speaks at a news conference after qualifying for the Arca Racing Series auto race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. Former NASCAR driver Townley was killed Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, in a shooting in Georgia that also wounded a woman, investigators said. Townley, 31, died in the shooting in a neighborhood around 9 p.m., Athens-Clarke County Coroner Sonny Wilson told the Athens Banner-Herald. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

#UPDATE | October 6, 2021 (AP) – Police in Georgia say former NASCAR driver John Wes Townley was shot to death in a dispute that involved a hatchet after showing up at a house occupied by his estranged wife and another man.

A statement by police in Athens says the 31-year-old Townley had the weapon at some point before he was fatally wounded by 32-year-old Zachary Anderson of Dunwoody, Georgia.

They say 30-year-old Laura Townley also was seriously wounded but is expected to survive.

No charges have been filed and an investigation continues.

Townley raced for eight seasons in NASCAR’s lower two national divisions.


ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — A former NASCAR driver was killed Saturday in a shooting in Georgia that also wounded a woman, investigators said.

John Wes Townley, 31, died in the shooting in a neighborhood around 9 p.m., Athens-Clarke County Coroner Sonny Wilson told the Athens Banner-Herald.

A 30-year-old woman was hurt, but police didn’t give details about her injuries.

Police have spoken to the shooter, who knew the victims. The shooting appeared to be domestic violence related, Athens-Clarke County Police Lt. Shaun Barnett said.

No charges have been filed and the investigation continues, Barnett said.

Townley raced eight seasons and made 186 starts across the NASCAR Xfinity and Truck Series, NASCAR’s lower two national divisions. His victory in the Truck Series at Las Vegas six years ago Sunday was the only national series win of his career.

Townley drove a car owned by his father, who was a co-founder of the vehicle’s primary sponsor, restaurant chain Zaxby’s.

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