When you become a race car driver, you accept that it's a dangerous job and that there is a possibility that you could die doing what you love. Still, for the racing community, it is always hard losing a fellow driver, especially an affable and funny guy such as Jason Leffler. As we all know, we lost Jason one year ago in a horrific sprint car crash at a short track in Pennsylvania. It came as a shock to all of us, and made us realize that this is a dangerous sport. I want to take this time to share with you what kind of person Jason Leffler was, on and off the track.
Jason was a seasoned open wheel racer from Long Beach, California. He started his career racing midget cars in the USAC series. He won the midget championships both in 1997 and 1999, then won the Silver Crown championship in 1998. His success as an open wheel racer caught the attention of NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs, who in 2000, gave Jason a ride in the Busch (now Nationwide) series. He finished 20th in championship points that year, and earned three poles. In 2004, he won his first Busch Series race. He started his full time Sprint Cup ride in 2005 with Joe Gibbs, driving the No. 11 FedEx car. However, with the poor finishes he had, he was eventually fired from the team after nineteen starts. He later signed with Braun Racing in 2006, and in 2007, he made history by winning at O'Reilly Race Park, becoming the first Toyota to win in the Busch series. His NASCAR career from then on was plagued with bad luck and him being dropped from teams. With that said, it never took away the fact that Jason was a very talented driver.
Not only was Jason known for being a talented driver, but he was known as being a terrific person around the garage. He was often a practical joker, and was never seen without a smile on his face. He was notably best friends with current Sprint Cup driver Kasey Kahne, who was also a fellow open wheel driver. He was a loyal friend, and overall just a terrific young man. He was also known for being a great dad to his son Charlie Dean, who was 6 years old at the time of his death. There is not one person in the garage who doesn't miss him because of his wonderful personality.
It is always hard losing a talented driver such as Jason Leffler. Not only was he a talented person who still a lot of racing to do in his life, but he was such a terrific guy who was always fun to be around. It still is a heartbreaking reality to know that his son will grow up without a father, and that an amazing person will no longer be here to grace the Earth. I, along with my colleagues at The Podium Finish, express our condolences to Jason Leffler's loved ones and family, especially Charlie Dean. I ask all readers to go ahead and pay tribute to Jason and pray for his family. May we never forget Jason Leffler, and the legacy he had.