The world of motorsports suffered another tragic loss, as NASCAR driver Jason Leffler passed away Wednesday night after a crash in a sprint car race at Bridgeport Speedway in New Jersey. As the news and details surrounding the incident that took his life continue to surface, Leffler leaves behind many memories that will keep him in the minds of NASCAR fans.
His racing career dates back to 1997 when he began racing in USAC. From 1997-1999, Leffler captured three consecutive USAC Midget championships. In 2000, he began his NASCAR career after joining Joe Gibbs Racing to race in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. He went on to find success in the Nationwide Series as well as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
He captured his first NASCAR career win in the 2003 season in the Truck Series race at Dover International Speedway. The Nationwide Series gave Leffler many of his best finishes and most of his NASCAR success. In his rookie season, he went on to win three pole positions and four top-10s and finished in the top-20 in points.
In the 2004 season, Leffler captured his first win in the Nationwide Series. In 2007, he captured his second career Nationwide Series win at Indianapolis Raceway Park, giving Toyota their first Nationwide Series win as well. He raced full-time in the Nationwide Series from 2006-2011, with the 2007 season as his best with a third place finish in the point standings.
Leffler made his way to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2001 and since his debut, he has raced with teams such as Chip Ganassi Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing. He made 73 starts, with last Sunday’s Party in the Poconos 400 at Pocono Raceway as his final Cup Series start.
Throughout his NASCAR career, he also raced for Nationwide Series and Truck Series teams Turner Motorsports, Kyle Busch Motorsports, Haas CNC Racing and Humphrey Smith Racing. Along with his USAC and NASCAR background, Leffler had also raced in the IndyCar Series with three starts, including the 2000 Indianapolis 500.
The loss of another great driver has saddened the NASCAR community and the racing world alike. Following the release of the tragic news, many NASCAR drivers, teams, tracks and fans expressed their feelings online. NASCAR released a statement as well after confirming the news:
“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,” said NASCAR in their statement.
Leffler had always been an active racer. Whether it was in NASCAR or in USAC, he has left behind many memories that will keep him in everyone’s thoughts.