Story By: BRYAN HULBERT / SAM HAFERTEPE JR. RACING – TAMPA, FL – Making progress each time he hit the track during the King of the 360s at East Bay Raceway Park this past weekend, Sam Hafertepe, Jr.’s persistence paid off with the final night yielding a third-place finish.
“East Bay is one of those places we seem to struggle at. We felt good going in, but just started off like we always do and finally on the final night we found some speed and just tried to build on it,” commented Hafertepe of his feelings on the weekend.
Coming through B-Feature competition the first two nights, the Thursday opener yielded the better result with the Heidbreder Foundation No. 15h moving to seventh in the A-Feature. Runner-up in the B-Feature on Friday, the move was about half that of the previous night with a 15th place finish.
Setting a bit of a do or die situation for Saturday, the team pulled out all the stops and found the speed they’d been looking for.
“We knew we needed to win the Heat Race. Being the first Heat, that was going to put us starting seventh in the A [Feature] so that was the whole goal.”
Fastest in Hot Laps, Sam was able to translate that speed to a Heat Race win.
“I felt like we’d hit on something finally. Speed was there, and for the Main, we didn’t really have to change the car up that much. The track had a little more moisture than the prior two nights, and starting seventh, I knew we had a chance to win and when the green dropped, we got to fourth pretty quick and once we got into traffic, I actually go under McCarl and passed the guy for second, but the caution came out right after we crossed the line so that put us behind them and that really hurt us and by the time I was able to get back to third, the race was pretty much over.”
Five A-Feature starts on the season with a trio of podiums finishes so far, Sam looks to carry that momentum into this weekend with his first showing with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series at Cotton Bowl Speedway in Paige, Texas on Friday, February 22 and his home track, Lone Star Speedway in Kilgore, Texas on Saturday, February 23.
“I’m really looking forward to this weekend. Hopefully, the weather lets us race. We’ve been working on our 410cid program, so this weekend should be a good test of what we’ve done.”