Jason Leffler Killed in Sprint Car Crash

Just the Facts:
  • Race driver Jason Leffler was killed in a sprint car crash Wednesday night.
  • Leffler, a veteran of short-track open-wheel, NASCAR and IndyCar, was 37.
  • Leffler was a two-time winner in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

BRIDGEPORT, New Jersey — Jason Leffler, a short-track race driver from Long Beach, California, who competed in NASCAR and in one Indianapolis 500, was killed in a racing crash Wednesday night at Bridgeport Speedway. He was 37.

Leffler was racing in a 410 Sprint Car, an open-wheel single-seater with oversized airfoil on top. He hit the outer retaining wall during a preliminary heat race and his car flipped several times.

The car was heavily damaged and Leffler had to be extricated by track emergency workers. He was transported to a local hospital and was pronounced dead at approximately 9 p.m., according to the New Jersey State Police.

The special "Night of Wings" program at the 0.625-mile dirt oval was canceled after the fatal crash.

Leffler won two races in NASCAR's second-tier Nationwide Series and competed in a number of Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series events, with a total of 423 starts in the three national touring series. In 73 Cup Series races, he won one pole and had one top-10 finish.

Leffler did not have a full-time Cup Series ride. He ran one Cup race this year, Sunday at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania. He completed only eight laps before dropping out and finished 43rd.

He moved to NASCAR in 2001 with Chip Ganassi Racing, earning an invitation after winning three consecutive championships in the USAC Midget division.

Leffler was considered a hard-nosed competitor, with trademark spiked hair and the nickname "LefTurn."

A statement from NASCAR read: ''NASCAR extends its thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies to the family of Jason Leffler, who passed away earlier this evening. For more than a decade, Jason was a fierce competitor in our sport and he will be missed."

A tribute from Indianapolis Motor Speedway read, "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 is survived by a 5-year-old son, Charlie Dean.

Edmunds says: Sprint cars are renowned for their fast and furious action on tracks of a quarter-mile and larger, and also for frequent violent crashes. Our condolences to the Leffler family.