John Wes Townley, who won his only race in 186 NASCAR starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, was fatally shot Saturday near Athens, Georgia.
According to a police report, authorities responded to a report of a shooting at a residence. They arrived to discover Townley, his former wife, Laura, and a third person on the scene.
Townley and his former wife were transported to the hospital. Townley later died of his injuries. He was 31.
A preliminary investigation said Townley had arrived at the location and attacked his ex-wife and 32-year-old Zachary Anderson with a hatchet when Anderson fired several shots from his gun. The shots struck Townley and his ex-wife, who was accidentally injured when struck in the abdomen. Her injuries were described as “serious,” though she is expected to survive.
Anderson was not charged in the incident.
A news report said Townley filed for divorce in February. The divorce became official last week.
Townley was the son of Tony Townley, who co-founded the Zaxby’s chicken restaurant chain that has more than 600 locations in the southern U.S.
Townley won a Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2015 by staying on the track when the leaders pitted for fuel. He finished eighth in the Truck Series standings that year. He ran 110 races over six seasons and also competed in 76 Xfinity Series races over eight years with a top finish of 23rd in 2009.
In 2016, Townley and Spencer Gallagher, a former NASCAR driver from Las Vegas, were involved in a fight after they crashed out of a truck race at World Wide Technology Raceway near St. Louis.
Townley was fined $15,000 and placed on probation after the altercation.