SWEDESBORO, N.J. – Tony Stewart remembered Jason Leffler as a friend, teammate and doting father to 5-year-old son Charlie Dean a day after the NASCAR driver was killed in a crash at a dirt track.
“Jason Leffler was a great racer and an even better friend,” Stewart, the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion who was once a teammate of Leffler’s at Joe Gibbs Racing, said Thursday. “To not have him around to talk about whatever race one of us had just run, or were going to run, will be hard. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, especially his son, Charlie, who Jason loved more than anything.”
The 37-year-old Leffler, a two-time winner on the NASCAR Nationwide Series, died Wednesday night after the crash in a heat race in a 410 Sprint Car event at Bridgeport Speedway, a 0.625-mile, high-banked dirt oval about 15 miles southwest of Philadelphia.
A spectator, 40-year-old Chris Taitt of West Deptford, said Leffler had been in second place, apart from other cars when his winged car slammed into a wall at the fourth turn. Taitt said the wing was “flattened like a pancake” and the seat appeared to be displaced.
From Long Beach, Calif., Leffler made 423 starts in NASCAR’s three national series, winning the two Nationwide races and one Truck Series event in a career that began in 1999. He also made three IndyCar Series starts.
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.