Last Sunday at Pocono, Jason Leffler finished last in his only Cup start of the season and the 73rd of his career. It proved to be his last, as he died during a dirt track race Wednesday in New Jersey. The native of Long Beach, California competed in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500 over the course of his career, with wins coming in the Nationwide and Craftsman series of NASCAR.
While, as I write this, we do not know the cause of the accident. It appears his crash into the wall on turn four resulted in some invasion of the cockpit, such as crushed car components. We are reminded of the extensive safety features we now have in NASCAR, features not always available in the lower divisions of racing. We are also reminded of the inherent dangers of the sport. Jason Leffler was just 37, and leaves behind a five year old son.
This Sunday, the Cup series returns to Michigan, to where Dale Earnhardt Jr was a victor one year ago. While we expect to discover that Tony Stewart has heated up in these standings after the results of the past couple of weeks, it might be surprising to find Jeff Burton moving up eight positions. Burton finished 12th at Charlotte, and 11th the past two weeks. Heading the other way is Paul Menard, from eighth to 17th, who followed up a 20th at Dover with a 30th place finish last week. Kasey Kahne and Martin Truex Jr are two others in the ice box.
They will no doubt remember Jason Leffler at Michigan, as we remember him and those who we have lost over the years. Let us never forget their sacrifice and the courage of all those who take to the track.
|Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||282||9||12||0||2||5|
|Martin Truex, Jr.||268||16||11||0||2||4|
|Juan Pablo Montoya||260||20||22||0||2||3|