Remembering Jason Leffler one year later
Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images
Jason Leffler signs autographs for fans at Michigan International Speedway in August 2012.
Leffler ran five races in 2012.
June 11, 2014
It was one year ago this week NASCAR veteran Jason Leffler was killed in a sprint car race at Bridgeport Speedway.
Leffler had been knocked from his Nationwide and Truck Series ride in the span of eight months. Yet, the driver returned to the grass-roots levels of racing, running various short tracks to continue his love of competing.
As we remember Leffler and his career as a driver, The Racing Experts staff recall their favorite Jason Leffler memories.
It may be strange to some, but my favorite Jason Leffler memory is him making the field for his final Cup start.
Leffler had been virtually knocked out of NASCAR by the end of 2012, so to see him back at the Cup level a year later was something special to see.
At a time where Leffler ran out of chances, Mark Smith entrusted Leffler to get the job done in the No. 19 car at Pocono—make the race, and bring it home in one piece.
Yeah, it was a start-and-park effort. Leffler had done so previously for the No. 19 team in Michigan the year before. Leffler ran a total of eight laps, and finished 43rd in his last Cup race, but it seemed to me like he was back.
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
Leffler's practices his final ride at
Pocono Raceway, June 8, 2013.
Mike Bliss qualified that car for most of the season to that point, at race weekends where the Nationwide Series coincided with the Cup Series. But with standalone events coming up, I speculated we would see Leffler in the car for more races.
It may not have been an ideal situation, starting-and-parking, but I think Leffler knew that going into the deal, and it looked as if he was on track to coming back to NASCAR.
We can speculate, but we will never know what the true plan was for Smith, the No. 19 car, and Leffler for the rest of 2013.
I go down to Florida for the Daytona 500 with my father and twin brother every year. One year, we got hot passes to go into the infield and parts of the garage area.
We actually went into a place where we didn’t belong and met some of the drivers face-to-face. One of those drivers was Nationwide Series driver Jason Leffler.
Leffler was so nice and down to earth to us, and we recognized him mostly for the Mohawk he was so known for. We had a little conversation with him and off he went. He ran well that day too, until penalty by NASCAR really hurt his finish.
My personal words on Jason Leffler are few, but all of them are true. It's rather poetic, but that's what could describe his racing career.
He was a journeyman, but he had a certain style that would outshine any reliability that would come with a journeyman. From sprint cars to stock cars, IndyCars to karts, Leffler knew how to wheel a racing machine.
Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images
A fond memory I have of him, is when he won the NASCAR Busch Series Race at IRP in 2007.
It was a five lap shootout and he hadn't led a lap all race, but he was in the mix, restarting in the top-five. With three laps to go, he passed race dominator, Greg Biffle, for the win and never looked back. He tasted victory and savored it, right when it counted.
A true racer, through and through. Godspeed Leffler.
For Jason Leffler, there has been a lot of great moments in his racing career, such as his first ever victory in the NASCAR Craftsman World Truck Series at Dover in 2003 and his first and second victory in the NASCAR Busch Series at Nashville in 2004, and his second win at O'Reilly Raceway Park in 2007.
Now, my favorite moment was in 2009 and his horrific crash at Watkins Glen, for two reasons; first he walked away from a horrific wreck, and second, that was the only moment I noticed due to him winning before I really got into NASCAR.
I'm glad he was able to see his son to be 5-years-old, not saying that him passing away in 2013 wasn't bad, I'm just glad he got to spend a bit more time with Charlie. Jason had a passion for racing and his son Charlie.
“I'd rather my son see me live a happy life then see me sitting in a job I hate being miserable,” Leffler said.
Jason cared so much about him he even invested money for Charlie and had disability insurance so he could live a better lifestyle. I wish I would have paid attention to Jason more while he was in NASCAR.
Photo by Getty Images
Leffler celebrates his second career win in the NASCAR Busch Series in July 2007 at O'Reilly Raceway Park. The win would be Leffler's last NASCAR-sanctioned win.