Former NASCAR driver shot dead after dispute involving ex-wife

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Seen here, former NASCAR driver John Wes Townley and his ex-wife Laura.
John Wes Townley was shot dead in an altercation that also seriously injured his ex-wife Laura. Pic: Getty/Facebook

Authorities in the United States have confirmed that former NASCAR driver John Wes Townley was shot dead after a dispute involving his ex-wife and another man.

Athens-Clarke County Police said Townley was killed after he went to a house in Georgia where his ex-wife Laura and another man, Zachary Anderson, were located.

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Police claim that "shortly after Townley arrived at the residence, there was an altercation" between the former driver and Anderson.

It's alleged Townley was wielding a hatchet during the altercation that ensued.

Anderson allegedly fired several shots from his gun during the scuffle, killing Townley and accidentally striking the driver's ex-wife in the abdomen.

"At some point during the altercation, Anderson fired several shots from his firearm. As a result, Ms. Townley and Mr. Townley were struck," police said.

John Wes Townley died after being shot in the chest during the dispute. Pic: Getty
John Wes Townley died after being shot in the chest during the dispute. Pic: Getty

Police say Townley was “shot through the chest” and pronounced dead at a local hospital shortly after the incident.

Authorities added that Anderson also “accidentally struck Ms. Townley” when firing his firearm - sparking the initial 911 call.

She was admitted to hospital with serious injuries but is expected to survive, according to police.

The Townleys had divorced earlier in 2021. John Wes was charged with three misdemeanours related to an alleged domestic violence incident between the couple in 2019. 

He pleaded guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct and was sentenced to a year on probation.

However, the police report revealed that their divorce had only beeb finalised this week.

Shooter not charged by police 

Police said Anderson had not been charged with a crime related to the shooting. 

Townley raced in NASCAR from 2008-16 and competed in the second-level Xfinity Series and third-tier Truck Series. 

Townley scored his only NASCAR win in 2015 when he won the Truck Series race at Las Vegas. 

He drove in nearly 200 races across both levels and his best season came in 2015 when he finished eighth in the Truck Series points standings. 

He was the son of Zaxby's co-founder Tony Townley and the chicken restaurant sponsored Townley throughout his racing career.

Townley was one of the first young drivers of the late 2000s to come through NASCAR with a family-funded sponsor and that money led to a brief Xfinity Series ride at Richard Childress Racing when he was just 19 years old. 

The 31-year-old's tenure at RCR lasted just five races before the team replaced him with veteran drivers.

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