NASCAR has released a tribute video for Jason Leffler, who died Wednesday night when his car slammed into the wall of Bridgeport Speedway in New Jersey.
Leffler, 37, was on the fourth turn of the preliminary heat, when his car left the banked dirt track and flipped several times down the front straightaway, the South Jersey Times newspaper reported, citing witnesses.
Further reports indicate that the Long Beach, Calif., native had to be extricated from his car, where he was found unconscious after suffering major injuries
He was soon after transported by helicopter to the Crozier Hospital in Chester, Pa., where he was pronounced dead at 9:02 p.m., police said.
"NASCAR extends its thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies to the family of Jason Leffler who passed away earlier this evening," NASCAR said Wednesday in a statement. "For more than a decade, Jason was a fierce competitor in our sport and he will be missed."
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Leffler's death at Bridgeport Speedway in Swedesboro, N.J., came during a qualifying race at the Night of Wings event, a 25-lap race for sprint cars equipped with stabilizing wings. Sprint cars are high-powered cars that usually run on dirt or paved oval tracks.
Bridgeport Speedway, nicknamed the "Fastest Dirt Track in the East," consists of a spacious 5/8-mile high-banked dirt oval, where average speeds reach well over 100 miles per hour, according to the track's website.
Leffler competed in all three of NASCAR's national touring series from 1999 to the present. He made 73 starts in Sprint Cup, 294 in Nationwide and 56 in the Camping World Truck Series.
Last Sunday, Leffler made his only NASCAR appearance of the season in the 400-mile Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway. He finished last, driving the No. 19 Toyota for Humphrey Smith Racing.
He decided to return to dirt racing for 2013, planning to compete in up to 65 sprint car races.