NASCAR driver Jason Leffler died after an accident Wednesday night in a heat race at a dirt car event at Bridgeport Speedway in New Jersey.
The 37-year-old Leffler, a two-time winner on the NASCAR Nationwide Series who had the nickname "LefTurn" above the driver's side window on his race cars, was pronounced dead shortly after 9:00 p.m., New Jersey State Police said.
After losing his NASCAR ride, Leffler had been racing dirt car events most of this year, including the 410 Sprint Car race Wednesday that promised a $7,000 prize to the winner at the 0.625-mile, high-banked dirt oval. On Sunday, Leffler finished last at Pocono in his lone NASCAR Sprint Cup start of the year.
From Long Beach, Calif., Leffler made 423 starts in NASCAR's three national series, but won just the two Nationwide races and one Truck Series event in a career that began in 1999.
Leffler won the Busch Series Kroger 200 at O'Reilly Raceway Park in 2007. He famously passed Greg Biffle with two laps remaining. It was also the first win for a Toyota Camry in a Busch Series race.
He competed in five Brickyard 400 races (2001, 2003-05, 2008) and finished 17th in the 2000 Indianapolis 500.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway issued a statement on Leffler's passing:
"We are very saddened at the passing of Jason Leffler. 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," said IMS Chief Operating Officer Doug Boles in a statement. "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."
Leffler was just 37 years-old. He is survived by a 5-year-old son.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.