NASCAR driver Jason Leffler died from injuries sustained when his car crashed into the wall during a dirt race in New Jersey. The accident occurred on Wednesday during a qualifying heat at the Bridgeport Speedway, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Leffler, 37, had to be extricated from his car. He was reportedly unconscious and had suffered major injuries. Emergency personnel airlifted him to the Crozier Hospital in Chester, Pa., where he was pronounced dead at 9:02 p.m.
Bridgeport Speedway calls itself the "Fastest Dirt Track in the East." It's a 5/8-mile dirt oval, where speeds can exceed more than 100 miles per hour. Leffler's accident happened in the front stretch of the track, according to KTLA-5.
Leffler raced in NASCAR, where he won the Nationwide Series twice. He placed 17th in 2000 at the Indianapolis 500.
"NASCAR extends its thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies to the family of Jason Leffler who passed away earlier this evening," NASCAR tweeted. "For more than a decade, Jason was a fierce competitor in our sport and he will be missed."
He began racing fulltime for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2000, earning three poles and four top-10 finishes. He moved to Chip Ganassi Racing and the Sprint Cup Series in 2001, where he won the pole for the inaugural race at Kansas Speedway.
"We are very saddened at the passing of Jason Leffler," Indianapolis Motor Speedway CEO J. Douglas Boles said 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."
Kyle Busch, who also raced for Joe Gibbs Racing, posted on twitter, "Deeply saddened by the passing of @JasonLeffler tonight. Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayer."
Leffler leaves behind a wife and a son.