NASCAR driver Jason Leffler was killed after an accident Wednesday, June 12 in a heat race at a dirt car event at Bridgeport Speedway in New Jersey. He was 37.
Leffler, a two-time winner on the NASCAR Nationwide Series, had the nickname “LefTurn” above the driver’s side window on his race cars, was pronounced dead shortly after 9 p.m., New Jersey State Police said.
“NASCAR extends its thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies to the family of Jason Leffler who passed away earlier this evening,” NASCAR said in a statement. “For more than a decade, Jason was a fierce competitor in our sport and he will be missed.”
Bridgeport Speedway immediately suspended racing for the rest of the night after Leffler’s accident at the 0.625-mile, high-banked dirt oval.
The Long Beach, Calif., native made 423 starts in NASCAR’s three national series, but won just the two Nationwide races and one Truck Series event in a career that began in 1999. He also made three IndyCar Series starts, finishing 17th in the 2000 Indianapolis 500.
A statement from Indianapolis Motor Speedway called Leffler “one of the most versatile race drivers in America, showing his talent by competing in the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during his career.”
“He also displayed the skills that would help him reach the top levels of the sport by winning four USAC national series titles while winning on tracks throughout the Midwest,” the statement said.
Leffler’s last full NASCAR season was 2011, when he ran the entire Nationwide schedule for Turner Motorsports. He finished sixth in the standings that season and hadn’t had a steady NASCAR ride since.
Although he never made it at the NASCAR Sprint Cup level, Leffler ran almost the entire 2001 season for Chip Ganassi Racing and ran 19 races in 2005 for Joe Gibbs Racing in the car now driven by Denny Hamlin.
Leffler is survived by 5-year-old son, Charlie Dean.
Take a look at the Twitter condolences
3 days ago I watched him race in NASCAR. I can’t believe he is gone. #JasonLeffler
— Josiah Kopp (@Josiah_Kopp) June 13, 2013
people die everyday doing the things they hate, but some, some die doing the things they love. #jasonleffler
— Michael Aaron (@michaeldosdos) June 13, 2013
Just got home & heard about #jasonleffler.Lots of prayers going out to his family.May you find comfort.#gonetoosoon
— Angela Griner (@Smiling_Angie) June 13, 2013