NASCAR driver Jason Leffler died from injuries suffered when his car slammed into the wall of a dirt raceway in New Jersey, state police said. He was 37.
The crash occurred during a race at the Bridgeport Speedway in Logan township in southern New Jersey, near Philadelphia, state police spokesman Sergeant Adam Grossman said.
Leffler, 37, of Huntersville, North Carolina, was rushed to the Crozier Hospital in Chester, Pennsylvania, where he was pronounced dead at 9:02 p.m., police said.
Leffler had to be extricated from his car. He was reportedly unconscious after the accident happened and had suffered major injuries. Leffler was transported by helicopter to Crozer-Chester Medical Center.
The raceway calls itself the "Fastest Dirt Track in the East." It 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 was a two-time winner of the Nationwide Series. He had been racing for over a decade, with experience in so-called midget race cars as well as the Indianapolis 500, where he placed 17th in 2000, his website noted.
New Jersey State Police said in a Twitter posting that the accident was under investigation.
"NASCAR extends its thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies to the family of Jason Leffler who passed away earlier this evening," the organization said in a Twitter posting. "For more than a decade, Jason was a fierce competitor in our sport and he will be missed."
Two Nationwide victories
Leffler, a Long Beach, Calif. native, competed in all three of NASCAR's national touring series from 1999-present. He made 73 starts in Sprint Cup, 294 in Nationwide and 56 in the Camping World Truck Series. Leffler, who began racing at age 12, won four USAC championships and was inducted into the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2003.
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.
Leffler scored two Nationwide victories and one in trucks during his NASCAR career. He joined Joe Gibbs Racing full time in 2000, earning three poles and four top-10 finishes with the team, before moving to Chip Ganassi Racing and the Sprint Cup Series in 2001, where he won the pole for inaugural race at Kansas Speedway.
Kyle Busch, who drives for Gibbs' team in Sprint Cup and Nationwide, posted on his Twitter account, "Deeply saddened by the passing of @JasonLeffler tonight. Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers."
Leffler also competed in the Indianapolis 500 in 2000, finishing 17th.
"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.
"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."
Without a ride in NASCAR, Leffler decided earlier this year to return to his grass roots of open-wheel racing.
Leffler was single. He is survived by 5-year-old son, Charlie Dean.