Jason Leffler’s fatal crash at the Bridgeport Speedway in New Jersey is still sending shock waves through the NASCAR community. Now NASCAR veteran Dave Blaney, who witnessed the crash, has stepped forward Friday to offer his theory about what really happened.
On Wednesday, the 37-year-old Jason Leffler unexpectedly crashed in the 410 Sprints division on the Speedway’s 0.625 dirt oval. He was air-lifted to a local hospital but was pronounced dead shortly after 9 PM.
The rest of the night’s racing events were cancelled.
Leffler hit the wall and then spun to hit the wall a second time before it flipped. Because of the way he was spun around, he hit the wall at an angle that left him especially vulnerable.
Dave Blaney believes that a part actually broke on Jason Leffler’s car and that’s what caused the crash:
“[T]he odds are really good something broke on the race car and got him into the fence…That’s the part about it that wouldn’t happen 99% of the time or even more than that. When it broke, I think it hit the wall at such an extreme angle that it flung the left side of the car around…The driver is way more vulnerable then.”
But even if turns out that a defective part was to blame, the fatal crash has raised new questions about the safety of sprint racing on short tracks.
Three-time Sprint Cup winner Tony Stewart also spoke out about the accident on Friday:
“I was just shocked to hear what had happened and obviously it’s just a reminder of how dangerous our sport is, but we have had a lot of safety innovations over the last 15 years since I have been in Cup. It’s just proof that we will never get to the stage where everybody is immune to getting hurt in a race car.”
He said that it wasn’t the short track that killed Leffler, saying that the sprint tracks are the safest they’ve ever been. “The safety standards weren’t what caused the problem,” he insisted.
Stewart didn’t go as far as Blaney, but it seems like he too believes that a defective car part could have caused Jason Leffler’s fatal crash.
[Jason Leffler car photo courtesy James Willamor via Flickr and Creative Commons]