(Bill W) August 3, 2016 – Sam Hafertepe Jr. is coming into the Knoxville 360 Nationals at a good place. The Sunnyvale, Texas native has a healthy lead in the Lucas Oil ASCS National Series standings and has been on a quite a roll the last couple of months. Last weekend, he registered a fifth place finish with ASCS at Park Jefferson Speedway north of Sioux City, Iowa Thursday and struggled to a tenth place finish when the series visited Badlands Motor Speedway near Brandon, South Dakota on Sunday. Sam will be qualifying Friday for the 360 Nationals.
The Keith Dobbs #15H team used last Saturday night to tune up at Knoxville in weekly competition. “We were trying some things with a different motor,” says Sam. “We didn’t get qualified in too well (12th quick out of 42), but it raced o.k. We had a good racecar. We were kind of searching a little bit in the heat race.”
Sam finished second in the heat. He then lined up 19th in the feature, and charged to a seventh place finish. “We had it tuned up pretty well for the feature,” he says. “We got tight in a couple restarts early on and lost some spots that we had gained early. All in all though, we were pretty good.”
The team is excited about the 360 Nationals. “We feel great going in,” says Sam. “We’re going back to some things that we know. By the end of the feature on Saturday, we’d found a lot of things we did in the past. What we’ve done this year really wasn’t working early on, so we started switching up to some things we’ve done in previous years. We have a really good baseline going in, and we’re confident about where the car is going to be. I feel like if things go our way, we’ll have a really good Nationals.”
Sunday’s event at Badlands saw Sam start outside the front row in the heat. “We were fastest in hot laps,” he says. “We kind of got run through in the heat. The leader ran across the front of our car. That got us jumped over the curb and allowed (Aaron) Reutzel by us. We finished third. We weren’t very good to be honest. If we would have got the lead at the start, maybe we could have won, but we didn’t have as good a racecar as we could have.”
Starting fourteenth, he would coast to a tenth place finish. “We never really got the hang of it,” says Sam. “We missed the setup pretty bad. It was probably one of the worst cars we’ve had all year. From luck of a few guys falling out, we ran tenth. I think it was the worst performance we’ve had all year. We weren’t going forward at all. We just totally missed it that night.”
Looking on the horizon, Sam will tune up for the Knoxville Nationals at Sunday’s “Capitani Classic”. “It will be a good chance for us to shake the 410 down, and make sure we’re on all eight cylinders,” he says. “We’re confident in our racecar. We just need to make sure our motor program is where it needs to be.”
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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.
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