June 13 (Bloomberg) -- Nascar driver Jason Leffler died last night after crashing in a dirt track race at Bridgeport Speedway in Swedesboro, New Jersey. He was 37.
“Nascar extends its thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies to the family of Jason Leffler,” Nascar said in statement. “For more than a decade, Jason was a fierce competitor in our sport and he will be missed.”
Leffler, who went by the nickname “Lefturn,” was a two-time winner on the second-tier Nationwide Series, where he finished in the top 10 in points five times. He also competed at Nascar’s top level for both Joe Gibbs Racing and Chip Ganassi. Leffler made his first Nascar start this season in a Sprint Cup Series event on June 9 at Pocono Raceway, where he finished in 43rd place.
Leffler last night was participating in a sprint-car heat at a 5/8-mile high-banked dirt track when he crashed. Drivers were competing for a $7,000 top prize in the 25-lap main event, according to Bridgeport Speedway’s website. Racing was halted for the evening after the accident.
“We are very saddened at the passing of Jason Leffler,” Indianapolis Motor Speedway Chief Operating Officer J. Douglas Boles said in a statement. “He was 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.”
Leffler competed in the 2000 Indianapolis 500, IndyCar’s marquee event, as well as Nascar, yet had his most success racing midget cars, winning three U.S. Auto Club midget titles from 1997-99 and a silver crown series championship in 1998.
“Such sad news tonight,” Nationwide rookie Kyle Larson, a former sprint-car driver, said last night on Twitter. “Leffler was a great person and even better dad. I am glad I got to know him. Rest in peace.”
Leffler was a native of Long Beach, California, according to Nascar. His survivors include a young son, Charlie.
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