Skip to content

Police investigation: Mechanical failure led to Jason Leffler crash, death

Jun 21, 2013, 11:26 PM EDT

This was the car Jason Leffler was driving when it suffered mechanical failure, according to a report issued Friday by the New Jersey state police. Reuters

Following more than a week-long investigation, New Jersey state police said the wreck that claimed the life of NASCAR driver Jason Leffler in a June 12 dirt track race in Bridgeport, N.J., was caused by a mechanical problem.

While the report is not fully completed, several findings have come to light to explain much of the reason why Leffler’s car suddenly went out of control and flipped several times before coming to rest. Leffler was taken to a nearby hospital but was pronounced dead less than an hour after the wreck, which occurred shortly after 9 pm ET.

Police believe a torsion stop, which is part of the sprint car’s suspension, somehow broke off and became lodged between a wheel and the steering control system, rendering the car uncontrollable. The car came out of the fourth turn, spun, then hit the outside concrete retaining wall, flipping several times before coming to a rest, as well.

While the report has not determined how fast Leffler was going when the crash occurred, the police report said cars were averaging 135 mph and as high as 150 mph on both straightaways during the course of the race.

The official cause of death, as determined by a local medical examiner, has been ruled blunt-force injuries to Leffler’s neck.

Leffler, 37, was buried Wednesday, one week after the tragedy. He leaves behind a five-year-old son. A trust fund for Leffler’s son has been established by several of Leffler’s fellow NASCAR drivers.

Longtime friend and mentor Tony Stewart, a three-time Sprint Cup champion who also co-owns Stewart-Haas Racing and owns or has partial ownership in several short tracks like the New Jersey facility, said last week in Michigan that the facility was not at fault.

“It was an accident,” Stewart said. “Just like if you go out and there’s a car crash. It’s an accident. Nobody as a track owner wants to go through what happened this week, but it’s not due to a lack of effort on their part to try to make their facilities as safe as possible under the conditions they have.”

Latest Posts
  1. Carlos Sainz Jr to start Monaco GP from pit lane

    May 23, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    xxxx during final practice for the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 23, 2015 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. Getty Images

    Toro Rosso driver dropped to the back of the grid after failing to complete a weight check during qualifying on Saturday.

  2. Williams drivers hopeful of points in spite of poor Monaco GP qualifying

    May 23, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT

    MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 21:  Felipe Massa of Brazil and Williams drives during practice for the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 21, 2015 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas limped to their worst qualifying results of the season in Monaco.

  3. Will Power: “It’s the first time I feel I have a shot at winning” Indianapolis 500

    May 23, 2015, 11:09 AM EDT

    Indianapolis 500 - Coors Light Carb Day Getty Images

    Team Penske credits an oval-whelming improvement during his 2014 championship season.

  4. Lack of rhythm costs Rosberg in battle for pole in Monaco

    May 23, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's German driver Nico Rosberg  drives during the third practice session at the Monaco street circuit in Monte-Carlo on May 23, 2015, ahead of the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix. AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Rosberg falls short in his bid for a third successive Monaco GP pole position.

  5. The best news of the Indy weekend: Hinchcliffe posts photo of him walking

    May 23, 2015, 10:08 AM EDT

    James Hinchcliffe James Hinchcliffe

    Hinchcliffe, in a hospital gown, up and walking, in utterly fantastic news.

  6. Hamilton delighted with “incredibly special” Monaco pole

    May 23, 2015, 9:34 AM EDT

    Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton gestures as he celebrates  taking the pole position in the parc fermee after the qualifying session at the Monaco street circuit in Monte-Carlo on May 23, 2015, ahead of the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix. AFP PHOTO / POOL / BORIS HORVAT        (Photo credit should read BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Despite having 42 pole positions to his name before today, Lewis Hamilton had never had one in Monaco – until now, that is.

  7. Hamilton storms to first Monaco GP pole position

    May 23, 2015, 9:06 AM EDT

    Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton  drives during the third practice session at the Monaco street circuit in Monte-Carlo on May 23, 2015, ahead of the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix. AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Hamilton rallies to claim pole position for the first time in Monaco.

  8. WATCH LIVE: Monaco GP qualifying on NBCSN and Live Extra from 8am ET

    May 23, 2015, 7:45 AM EDT

    MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 23:  Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Infiniti Red Bull Racing drives during final practice for the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 23, 2015 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images) Getty Images

    After Sebastian Vettel finished fastest in practice, can Ferrari take the fight to Mercedes for pole position today?

  9. Formula E: Jarno Trulli claims pole for Berlin ePrix

    May 23, 2015, 7:02 AM EDT

    A Formula E Trulli driver Jarno Trulli prepares to take part in the first pratice session in Punta del Este, Uruguay on December 13, 2014. Uruguay will host the third race of the inaugural Formula-E electric car race championship on December 13.  AFP PHOTO / PABLO PORCIUNCULA        (Photo credit should read PABLO PORCIUNCULA/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Italian driver storms to his first pole position in the series ahead of Lucas di Grassi and Sebastien Buemi.

  10. Vettel fastest for Ferrari in final practice for Monaco GP

    May 23, 2015, 6:04 AM EDT

    Scuderia Ferrari's German driver Sebastian Vettel  drives during the third practice session at the Monaco street circuit in Monte-Carlo on May 23, 2015, ahead of the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix. AFP PHOTO / BORIS HORVAT        (Photo credit should read BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Vettel storms to P1, throwing Ferrari’s hat into the ring for pole position later today.

  11. WATCH LIVE: FP3 for the Monaco Grand Prix on Live Extra from 5am ET

    May 23, 2015, 4:45 AM EDT

    Technicians work as  Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton  sits in his car in the pits during the second practice session at the Monaco street circuit in Monte-Carlo on May 21, 2015, ahead of the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix. AFP PHOTO / JEAN CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET        (Photo credit should read JEAN CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    After Thursday’s washout, FP3 becomes all the more important in Monaco.

  12. Vautier describes his “rollercoaster of emotions” throughout month of May

    May 22, 2015, 3:39 PM EDT

    Photo: INDYCAR Photo: INDYCAR

    Tristan Vautier recaps a roller coaster month of May, where he’ll have a last-minute opportunity to race in the Indianapolis 500 with Dale Coyne Racing.

  13. GP2: Vandoorne edges out Rossi for Monaco win

    May 22, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    © GP2 Series © GP2 Series

    A third straight feature race win for Stoffel Vandoorne sees him extend his lead at the top of the drivers’ championship.

  14. Harvey emerges victorious from Indy Lights’ Freedom 100 (VIDEO)

    May 22, 2015, 2:40 PM EDT

    Photo, IMS Photography, LLC Photo, IMS Photography, LLC

    Harvey scores the win in Indy Lights’ biggest race of the year.

  15. Fernley: F1 Strategy Group not fit for purpose

    May 22, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    xxxx during practice for the Malaysia Formula One Grand Prix at Sepang Circuit on March 27, 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Getty Images

    Force India’s deputy team principal lashes out at the F1 Strategy Group, calls for a return to autocratic rule by the FIA and the F1 Group.

  16. FIA invites bids for Formula 1 tire supply from 2017

    May 22, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    A Pirelli team member prepares tyres and rims in the paddock at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Spa on August 21, 2014 ahead of the Belgium Formula One Grand Prix.  AFP PHOTO / TOM GANDOLFINI        (Photo credit should read Tom Gandolfini/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Bids to supply tires to F1 upon the next change to the technical regulations now being taken.

  17. IndyCar: Carb Day 2015 rolling notebook (VIDEO)

    May 22, 2015, 12:06 PM EDT

    150522willpower Getty Images

    Notes as they develop from the ground in Indianapolis for Carb Day for the 99th Indianapolis 500.

  18. Jules Bianchi’s condition “stagnant” according to father Philippe

    May 22, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    SUZUKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 05: Jules Bianchi of France and Marussia arrives for the drivers' parade prior to the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit on October 5, 2014 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Jiri Krenek/isifa/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Bianchi remains in a coma in French hospital after sustaining severe head injuries at the Japanese Grand Prix last October.

  19. Chip Ganassi lobbying for IndyCar schedule changes

    May 22, 2015, 11:38 AM EDT

    Chip Ganassi, Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi, Scott Dixon

    The team owner would like the season’s calendar expanded.