Police: Former NASCAR driver John Wes Townley shot after altercation with hatchet

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Athens-Clarke County Police say that John Wes Townley was killed after he went to a house where his ex-wife and another man were.

Townley, 31, was shot and killed on Saturday night while Laura Townley suffered serious injuries in the shooting. Police said that "shortly after Townley arrived at the residence, there was an altercation between Mr. Townley and Mr. [Zachary] Anderson involving a hatchet. At some point during the altercation, Anderson fired several shots from his firearm. As a result, Ms. Townley and Mr. Townley were struck."

The Townleys had divorced earlier in 2021. John Wes was charged with three misdemeanors related to an allegd domestic violence incident between the couple in 2019. He pled guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct and was sentenced to a year on probation.

Police said Sunday that 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. Townley's tenure at RCR lasted just five races before the team replaced him with veteran drivers. 

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