(Bill W) July 27, 2016 – Sam Hafertepe Jr.’s assault continues. In his last eighteen races, the Lucas Oil ASCS National Series point leader has registered seven wins, six seconds, two thirds and two fourth place finishes. His lone finish outside the top four was a seventh. Since his win at the Fred Brownfield Classic in Washington, the Sunnyvale, Texas has registered four second place finishes in five attempts aboard the Keith Dobbs #15H as the team works their way back to the Midwest. Tomorrow night, the ASCS National Series hits Park Jefferson Speedway north of Sioux City, Iowa. Sam will get some laps at the Knoxville Raceway in Iowa Saturday night in weekly competition before heading to Badlands Motor Speedway near Brandon, South Dakota Sunday with ASCS.
On July 8 and 9, ASCS was at the Gallatin Speedway in Belgrade, Montana. “Belgrade had a pretty fast track,” says Sam. “Unfortunately, it laid rubber down both features we were there. We had a little motor issue the first night there and missed hot laps. We went out in the heat and went from third to second. We didn’t get to work on the car or anything. We were kind of lost in the heat. We redrew a two for the feature.”
Sam would chase Blake Hahn to the checkers. “When we put the motor in, we had something messed up in the barrel valve,” he says. “It wasn’t taking off correctly. We got beat on every start and restart. That kind of determined the race. We ran Blake down several times in the feature, but the caution would come out at just the right time. We were really fast; we just couldn’t get it done.”
The second place finish locked him into Saturday’s finale, where he would start third. “We got behind Blake there on the start, and the track laid rubber really quickly,” he says. “I thought we would be in trouble. I just started easing off and conserving my tires. Guys started popping them off left and right. Blake was running a pretty fast hard race, so I figured he would pop his soon. He ended up finishing and we ended up second. When you’re in the points’ lead, you have to race smart sometimes, and that was one of those nights.”
On July 16, Sam raced at Billings Motor Speedway in Montana for a special event. He timed in third quick and won his heat from sixth. “We were high point guy, and they did a redraw,” he says. “My question was, if we qualified twice, why are we redrawing? But that’s what they did. We drew the three and Aaron (Reutzel) got out to a quick pace early on. (Travis) Rilat fell in behind him. We were running third. The cushion was the only place we could run. So traffic was the place to make a move, and we were able to get by Rilat. I got close to Aaron there a couple times. A lapped car got into me with about ten laps to go, and that really took our shot at catching him. It wasn’t the best car we had all year, so to come out with a second is nothing to hang our head about.”
Last Friday night, he would get behind the 8-ball at Black Hills Speedway near Rapid City, South Dakota with ASCS. “We got in behind (Kyle) Bellm there in the heat race and he spun,” says Sam. “We tried to avoid him and got into the wall. We tore up the wing, the front end and the rear-end. We had to get in and thrash and get ready for the B. We started seventh and got up to second. We weren’t perfect, but we had a pretty good car.”
Starting eighteenth in the feature, Sam would storm to fourth and lock himself into Saturday’s finale. “We made a few other small changes to make the car better and we took off,” he says. “We were up to fifth by lap twelve. The caution came out, and I think the track just started to take rubber at that time. Once we got into fourth, which was our goal, we wanted to conserve our tires and stay locked in for Saturday. We kind of rode there.”
He would draw a three for Saturday’s finale. “From the outset, we got by Bellm early to take second,” says Sam. “By the time we did that, Johnny had a sizable lead on us. We actually started running him down when the caution came out. By then, it had started laying rubber again. We had to ride behind him for 25 laps, and that’s just kind of how it was.”
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Sam would like to thank Highway 79 Collision Center, the Sparks Family, Kiebler & Sons Lawn and Landscaping, Keizer Aluminum Wheels, Champion Oil, NAPA Auto Parts of Franklin and Sherwin Williams.
Photo: (NOXBOX Photography)
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