John Wes Townley, a former NASCAR driver who enjoyed an extensive career across the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series from 2008 to 2016, was fatally shot on Saturday in a double shooting in the Five Points area of Athens, Georgia. He was 31.
According a report by the Athens-Clarke County Police Department shared by Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press, authorities responded to a report of a shooting on Morton Avenue in regards to a woman who had been shot in the abdomen. They arrived to discover the woman, John Wes Townley and a third individual on the scene.
Townley and the woman were both transported to a local hospital. Townley later died of his injuries.
According to police, the other parties involved were Laura Townley, John Wes Townley's ex-wife, and 32-year old Zachary Anderson. A preliminary investigation by authorities claims that John Wes Townley had arrived at the location and attacked Laura and Anderson with a hatchet when Anderson fired several shots from his gun.
The shots struck John Wes while also inadvertently striking Laura. Police claim that while Laura Townley's injuries are "serious," though she is expected to survive. Anderson has not been charged in the fatal shooting.
According to a report by Joe Johnson of Classic City News, John Wes Townley and Laura Townley had married in October of 2018, but John Wes filed for divorce in February of this year on the grounds that the couple's marriage was "irretrievably broken." The divorce had been finalized this week. John Wes Townley's driver's license had the same Morton Avenue address where Laura Townley was residing, but he had reportedly been living with his parents in Oconee County.
John Wes Townley, the son of Zaxby's co-founder Tony Townley, raced in NASCAR throughout the late 2000s and 2010s mostly with the financial backing of his family's chain of fried chicken restaurants. After developing a penchant for crashing cars early in his career, John Wes Townley eventually developed into a respectable driver that enjoyed success in the Truck Series.
John Wes Townley had a best finish of 8th in the Truck Series points standings in 2015, a year which saw the proudest moment of his career when he took the checkered flag for his first and only victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Upon retiring at the end of the 2016 season, John Wes Townley was credited with one victory, five top 5s, 24 top 10s and two poles in 110 starts. He also made 76 career starts in the Xfinity Series with a best finish of 13th on multiple occasions.
In addition to his NASCAR pedigree, John Wes Townley also enjoyed the thrill of victory at the Daytona International Speedway, winning at the speedway twice in the ARCA Menards Series. John Wes Townley won the ARCA race at Daytona in 2013 for his first career win, and then did so again in 2016.