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Sports briefs: N.J. State Police investigating NASCAR driver Jason Leffler's death at dirt track
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Auto Racing • New Jersey State Police on Thursday were trying to determine what caused the dirt track crash that killed NASCAR driver Jason Leffler on Wednesday night.

Leffler died after the crash during the first heat at southern New Jersey's Bridgeport Speedway, a dirt track about 15 miles southwest of Philadelphia.

A spectator, Chris Taitt, said he was at the race but looking the other way when the crash occurred. He says Leffler had been in second place, apart from other cars when his car slammed into a wall at the track's fourth turn.

Taitt, 40, of West Deptford, said the wing on the car was "flattened like a pancake," and the seat appeared to be displaced.

Leffler, 37, a native of Long Beach, Calif., has won twice on NASCAR's Nationwide Series and finished in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500, two of car racing's signature events.

Ex-Barcelona head defends Messi

Soccer • Former Barcelona President Joan Laporta defended Lionel Messi on Thursday against allegations of tax fraud that could carry a prison sentence for the Argentina star.

A Spanish state prosecutor filed a fraud complaint on Wednesday alleging Messi and his father Jorge avoided paying $5.3 million in back taxes through illegal overseas tax havens.

"I am convinced that neither Leo nor his father have committed any infraction," Laporta told Cope radio. "The situation could be that they don't have any responsibility in these events. There can be third parties who are responsible."

From wire reports

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