Having competed in various USAC and open-wheel races over for many years and having been in NASCAR since the 1999 season, Jason Leffler formed strong ties with those he raced against.
It was not a surprise then, when shortly after the news of his death was announced, the outpouring of emotion expressed from those in the motorsports community was profound.
Tony Stewart was a close friend of Leffler's, as the two rose through the USAC ranks together chasing their dream of stardom. The two would later be NASCAR teammates at Joe Gibbs Racing.
It was Stewart's success in the Sprint Cup Series that helped pave the way for open-wheel drivers like Leffler to make the transition to NASCAR.
"Jason Leffler was a great racer and an even better friend," Stewart said Thursday in a statement. "We raced together a lot, and our career paths were very similar. He loved racing, especially open-wheel racing, and that's a passion we both share. To not have him around to talk about whatever race one of us had just run, or were going to run, will be hard. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, especially his son, Charlie, who Jason loved more than anything."
Many others shared their sentiments on Twitter, reflecting on the friendly disposition of the driver nicknamed "lefTurn," which was stenciled above his driver's side window. A frequent comment was the devotion he had for his 5-year-old son, Charlie.
Leffler was 37.
Here are some thoughts from fellow drivers:
Really sad for Jason Leffler and his family. Thinking about his little boy... 😕😓— Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) June 13, 2013
Jason & I flew together this past weekend to Pocono. We talked sprint cars, cup cars and Charlie Dean. He loved racing & he loved his son!— Kasey Kahne (@kaseykahne) June 13, 2013
Sad to hear of Jason's tragic passing-thinking of his family and son Charlie. May he rest in peace!— Ryan Newman (@RyanNewman39) June 13, 2013
Praying for all of @jasonleffler family, especially his little guy Charlie.— Ed Carpenter (@edcarpenter20) 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
Very sad to hear the news of Jason Leffler. He will be missed. Thoughts go out to wife Allison and son Charlie.— Jeff Gordon (@JeffGordonWeb) June 13, 2013
I'm completely devastated to hear a bout Jason Leffler. It doesn't seem real. Pray for his family tonight— Trevor Bayne (@Tbayne21) June 13, 2013
My thoughts and prayers are with Jason's family and friends. Breaks my heart thinking of his little boy— Jeff Burton (@RCR31JeffBurton) June 13, 2013
RIP #JasonLeffler. Praying for your family and his kid.— Helio Castroneves (@h3lio) June 13, 2013
Still can't find the words..Lef was as solid as they come..Treated me like gold from the time I was a kid...gonna miss him!!! Rest easy man— Bryan Clauson (@BryanClauson) June 13, 2013