The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


June 14, 2013

Shawn Wood's motorsports column: Highs and lows in one week


Two long-time non-wing drivers Dave Darland of Lincoln, Ind., and Shane Cottle of Kokomo, Ind., won the other two Eastern Storm features at Port Royal and Susquehanna Speedways, respectively. The event at Path Valley was rained out.

If you were unable to get to Grandview for this year's Hockett Classic, you might want to put it on the calendar for next year. It is safe to say was the best sprint car race to date in the commonwealth and it could be a candidate for race-of-the-year once we look back on the 2013 season.

On Wednesday of this past week, our racing community was rocked again by the on-track death of 37-year-old Jason Leffler.

Leffler's death comes a few weeks after 22-year-old Josh Burton was killed at Bloomington Speedway (Ind.) in a non-wing sprint car race.

Leffler, who made more than 400 starts in his NASCAR career and finished 17th in the 2000 Indy 500, came from the open-wheel ranks where he was a standout midget driver.

Among his midget wins are the Belleville Midget Nationals, Hut Hundred, Turkey Night, Copper World and the Night Before the 500.

Leffler was going to be the subject of a Friday motorsports feature in The Daily Item. I had spoken with him about a month ago as we were working on setting up a time to sit down and do an interview.

He called me just before I left for Indianapolis to apologize about not getting back to me sooner. He went on to say thank you for wanting to do an article on him. I told him not to worry about not getting back to me sooner, I understand that drivers have busy lives.

We never did get to sit down and talk as his schedule in May had him on the road while I was in Indy, but being a fan of midget racing and having had the pleasure of broadcasting the Belleville Midget Nationals before, I was looking forward to hearing about that win and his other midget accomplishments.

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