NASCAR driver Jason Leffler died after he crashed during a sprint car race Wednesday night at Bridgeport Speedway in New Jersey.
Leffler, a 37-year-old native of Long Beach, was pronounced dead at about 6 p.m. PDT, the New Jersey State Police reported. His sprint car, a small open-wheel vehicle raced on dirt tracks, was heavily damaged, and he had to be extricated from the wreck.
Bridgeport Speedway, located near Camden, N.J., is a five-eights-mile, high-banked dirt oval. Leffler was taking part in a heat race during qualifying for the main event. The speedway postponed the rest of the racing schedule for Wednesday night.
Leffler, who twice won on NASCAR's second-tier Nationwide Series, made his first Sprint Cup start of the year on Sunday at Pocono Raceway, finishing last in the Party in the Poconos 400.
He made 73 starts in the Sprint Cup Series, beginning with the 2001 Daytona 500, and 294 starts in the Nationwide Series, beginning with the 1999 Kroger 200.
Leffler was a three-time national champion for USAC midgets and was the 1998 USAC Silver Crown national champion. He was inducted into the National Midget Racing Hall of Fame in 2003.
He is survived by his 5-year-old son Charlie Dean.
NASCAR released a statement via Twitter:
Statement from NASCAR on the passing of Jason Leffler: “NASCAR extends its thoughts, prayers and deepest (cont) tl.gd/n_1rkpsv5— NASCAR (@NASCAR) June 13, 2013
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