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Sam Hafertepe Jr’s Win at Creek Marks One Step Closer to ASCS Title!

Sam talks with Bryan Hulbert after winning night #1 at Creek County (Brad Harris/ASCS Photo)

Sam talks with Bryan Hulbert after winning night #1 at Creek County (Brad Harris/ASCS Photo)

From Bill Wright

November 7, 2016 – A little practice paid off for Sam Hafertepe Jr. and the Keith Dobbs #15H race team last weekend at Creek County Speedway near Sapulpa, Oklahoma. A practice session Thursday night on a track that the Sunnyvale, Texas driver has struggled on, paid off in a big way as he won Friday’s prelim with the Lucas Oil ASCS National Series and finished second in Saturday’s finale. Sam takes a commanding 240-point lead into this weekend’s series curtain closer Friday and Saturday at Cocopah Speedway near Yuma, Arizona.

Sam would go from fifth to second in his heat on Friday. “We ran the leader down towards the end and just ran out of laps,” he says. “We were third highest in points heading into the Qualifier. We were able to get by a couple guys early. We were battling for second and third, and we had a guy in front of us on top, and one on the bottom. We could just never really get by them. We were able to finish fourth and that set us up starting fifth in the feature.”

The track was tricky in the feature. “It got kind of slick,” says Sam. “The only place you could run in one and two by feature time was the bottom. Three and four was predominantly around the top. We were able to make the middle work in the slick there. That’s where we had a big advantage. We were able to run in a place where they couldn’t.”

Sam quickly moved his way to the front. “We were able to get to second,” he says. “We actually took the lead when Blake Hahn spun in front of the field on the second lap there. That hung up the bottom line. I was third at that point, and we were able to get by Wayne (Johnson) and Blake when he spun. We ran almost two complete laps before the caution came out, but for some reason, they put Wayne back in the lead.”

His pursuit of the leader continued. “Wayne was pretty good out in clean air by himself,” says Sam. “We started trying a few things. I started hooking my left front on the inside berm. We were getting really good in one and two and started floating the car in the middle of three and four. We were closing in on him when the caution came out.”

At that point, Sam would find his way by for good. “On the restart, Wayne kind of missed the bottom of one and two,” he says. “I hooked my left front on the bottom a little harder than I had previously and it sucked me inside the racetrack. Off the exit, I got the right rear on the berm and that’s where we made the pass. It caused a little controversy. It’s nothing I was trying to do, it just sucked me in. It reminded me of what happens sometimes at the Chili Bowl when you hook the inside berm. Looking back at the video, I actually would have been faster if I’d been able to stay on the track than what happened. My right rear didn’t actually get inside the berm until exit. That being said, if they had penalized me there, I would have had to accept it. That’s their judgement call at the time.”

The race was over at that point. “We were able to drive off from there,” says Sam. “I think we won by over two seconds, so we had a dominant car again. We kept working with the car all night and found out what it needed and got the win.”

The win locked Sam into Saturday’s finale, where he drew a starting spot outside row two. “The track Saturday was a lot like Friday,” he says. “Three and four was around the top again. The bottom and top of one and two were fairly even. That made for good racing on that end. I had to try to work the middle again in three and four, and that worked like it had on Friday.”

He worked his way up to second. “We were able to get by (Seth) Bergman and Wayne on the bottom of one and two,” says Sam. “We set our sights on (John) Carney. We got to him a couple of times and the caution came out and negated the pass. I made a few mistakes when I did get by him. I got into one a little too hard and he got back by me. We had a good clean race from there. He did a good job. I thought I could throw a half slidejob on him in three and four a couple times and make him bobble, but he never did. He drove a better race, and we came up just a little short.”

Sam and the team essentially sewn up an ASCS title, but they won’t be satisfied with just showing up in Yuma this weekend. “We pretty much just have to be there, but we don’t race that way,” he says. “We’re going down there to try and sweep the weekend. Yuma should be a really good track for us with the way our car’s been performing this year. We’re looking forward to getting down there.”