NASCAR mourns driver Jason Leffler

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« on: June 13, 2013, 03:28:15 PM »
NASCAR mourns driver Jason Leffler, who dies after accident in New Jersey dirt  car event

Read more:  http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2013/06/13/nascar-mourns-driver-jason-leffler-who-dies-after-accident-in-new-jersey-dirt/#ixzz2W6fQYo4i
 
 NASCAR driver Jason Leffler died after an  accident in a heat race at a dirt car event at Bridgeport Speedway.
The 37-year-old Leffler, a two-time winner on the NASCAR Nationwide Series  who had the nickname "LefTurn" above the driver's side window on his race cars,  was pronounced dead Wednesday night 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.
After losing his NASCAR ride, Leffler had been racing dirt car events most of  this year, including the 410 Sprint Car race Wednesday that promised a $7,000  prize to the winner. On Sunday, Leffler finished last at Pocono in his lone  NASCAR Sprint Cup start of the year. He ran just eight laps in a start-and-park  ride.
From Long Beach, Calif., Leffler 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.
"Really sad for Jason Leffler and his family," NASCAR Sprint Cup champion  Brad Keselowski said on Twitter. "Thinking about his little boy."
Leffler won three consecutive USAC Midget championships from 1997-99 before  following mentor Tony Stewart's path into NASCAR.  Stewart-Haas Racing, owned by  Stewart, tweeted: "Thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of Jason  Leffler. A good man; a good racer. Godspeed friend."
Leffler originally signed with Joe Gibbs Racing, the same team Stewart drove  for at the time, and ran the 2000 Nationwide season for JGR. He grabbed four top  10s as a rookie, and moved to Cup the next year with Ganassi in a deal that  lasted only one season.
IndyCar driver Justin Wilson tweeted: "Another reminder of how this sport we  love can be so cruel. Thoughts with his family." Wilson included the hashtag  "LEFturn."
NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer also included the hashtag "LEFturn" in a tweet,  saying: "So sad to hear about Jason Leffler. Was a wheel man and a fun fun  person to be around."
Many drivers also mentioned Charlie Dean in their tweets. A single father,  Leffler was devoted to his son and his Instagram account was full of photos of  the two spending time together, including many at race tracks.
"Praying for all of Jason Leffler family, especially his little guy Charlie,"  tweeted IndyCar driver Ed Carpenter.
A little over two weeks ago, 22-year-old driver Josh Burton died of injuries  sustained in a crash at Bloomington Speedway in Indiana. In late May at a dirt  track in Nevada, two drivers were killed in a race. In March in California, two  people were killed when a car careened off a dirt track and crashed on pit  road.
Sprint car races can be more dangerous for drivers and spectators because the  safety measures taken by series aren't at the same level. Many facilities lack  the SAFER barriers that are standard in NASCAR and IndyCar, and the cars aren't  always adequately protected.


Read more:  http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2013/06/13/nascar-mourns-driver-jason-leffler-who-dies-after-accident-in-new-jersey-dirt/#ixzz2W6fXmJql