While Jason Leffler will most likely be remembered for his NASCAR career, he was quite accomplished in the open-wheel ranks as well - particularly at the dirt track and sprint car levels.
Leffler was raised near the open-wheel hub of Long Beach, Calif. and quickly made a name for himself in a USAC midget, winning three-consecutive championships from 1997-1999 and also winning two of the discipline's most prestigious events -- the Turkey Night Grand Prix and the Copper World Classic.
From there, he moved on to the IndyCar Series, making three starts, including the 2000 Indianapolis 500 where he finished 17th in a car with Penske support.
From an IndyCar perspective, Leffler will be seen as one of many of his generation that could have been an open-wheel superstar but was lured away to NASCAR during the height of the Indy car split. Tony Stewart, JJ Yeley and Kasey Kahne are also on that list.
So while Yeley will be fondly remembered as a positive and happy NASCAR family member, the open-wheel community has also claimed Leffler, wanting to pay their respect and send condolences.
IndyCar itself sent out a press release and several drivers paid their respects on Twitter this morning. With a competitor as popular and talented as Jason Leffler, the entire racing community has memories and thoughts they wanted to share and some of those tweets have been provided below.
Last night we lost a real racer @jasonleffler. Thoughts & prayers go out to his family especially little Charlie. RIP Jason.— Mario Andretti (@MarioAndretti) June 13, 2013
My heart goes out to Jason Leffler's family, so sad Jason lost his life tonightRIP @jasonleffler— Arie Luyendyk (@ArieLuyendyk) June 13, 2013
So sad we lost Jason Leffler tonight. Can't imagine what his family is going through. Thoughts & prayers go out to them. #PrayForCharlie— Ryan Hunter-Reay (@RyanHunterReay) June 13, 2013
Rest in peace Jason Leffler. A tough competition and a great guy. My thoughts are with his family and friends.— Dario Franchitti (@dariofranchitti) June 13, 2013
Praying for all of @jasonleffler family, especially his little guy Charlie.— Ed Carpenter (@edcarpenter20) June 13, 2013