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Parnelli Jones recalls Leffler as young volunteer in race shop who grew into top driver

Parnelli Jones is fondly recalling Jason Leffler, who began his racing career as a volunteer in Jones' California show.

Leffler died Wednesday night from injuries suffered in a sprint car crash in New Jersey. He was 37.

The death was a hard hit for Jones, who said by phone Friday he watched Leffler grow into a championship-caliber driver.

The 1963 Indianapolis 500 winner spoke glowingly of Leffler's desire, and how much it meant to Leffler to run the Indy 500 in 2000.

Winner of four USAC championships, Leffler was regarded as one of the top sprint car drivers in the country before he moved to NASCAR. Jones noted Leffler never found the same success in NASCAR but never stopped trying.