BRIDGEPORT, N.J. — Four-time USAC national champion and NASCAR stock car racing veteran Jason Leffler died Wednesday night from injuries suffered in sprint car crash at Bridgeport Speedway.
Leffler crashed the Buch Racing No. 13 during a heat race when his car appeared to break something in the right front and veered into the wall at the five-eighths-mile dirt track, flipping wildly.
Leffler was extricated from the car and transported to Cooper Trauma Center where he died from his injuries. The remainder of the racing program was canceled.
The Long Beach, Calif., native was 37 years old.
Leffler began racing at age 12 and won four USAC championships before graduating to NASCAR, where he made 294 NASCAR Nationwide Series, 56 Camping World Truck Series and 73 Sprint Cup Series starts.
He won two races in the Nationwide Series and one in the Camping World Truck Series.
Leffler competed in last weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway, driving for Humphrey Smith Racing.
NASCAR issued a statement regarding Leffler’s death Wednesday night: “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.”
Leffler was inducted into the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2003. Leffler won three consecutive USAC National Midget championships from 1997 through 1999 and includes among his midget victories the Hut Hundred, Night Before the 500, Turkey Night Grand Prix, Copper World Classic and Belleville Midget Nationals.
He also won the 1998 USAC Silver Crown championship.
Leffler competed in the Indianapolis 500 in 2000 and finished 17th. He also raced in five Brickyard 400s at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“We are very saddened at the passing of Jason Leffler,” said Indianapolis Motor Speedway Chief Operating Officer J. Douglas Boles 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. 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. Jason was a terrific guy who always had time for everyone. Our deepest sympathies are extended to his entire family, team and fans.”
IndyCar officials also remembered Leffler.
“IndyCar extends its deepest sympathies and condolences to the family of Jason Leffler for their tragic loss,” a statement read. “Jason was a USAC champion who made three IndyCar starts, including the 2000 Indianapolis 500. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.”
Leffler started his NASCAR career with Joe Gibbs Racing and has driven for Chip Ganassi Racing and Turner-Scott Motorsports among others.
After racing part-time for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Truck Series last year, Leffler returned to his roots this year, driving Tom Buch’s winged sprint car on the difficult Central Pennsylvania circuit.
The World of Outlaws also issued a statement regarding Leffler’s passing: “The World of Outlaws extends its deepest sympathy and condolences to the family and friends of Jason Leffler, a great racer and man whose life ended too soon tonight. We were always excited to see Jason enter the pits to race with the Outlaws, and he will no doubt be missed by everybody from his fellow competitors to officials to his many fans.”
Leffler leaves behind his 5-year-old son Charlie.