From Bill Wright
March 7, 2017 – Sam Hafertepe Jr. and the Keith Dobbs #15H sprint car team were happy with their speed last Friday night when the World of Outlaws visited Lonestar Speedway near Kilgore, Texas. Sam was less than happy with himself after an infield tire derailed him, not once, but twice on the night and cost him a top ten run. The team will now prepare for their defense of a Lucas Oil ASCS National Sprint Car Series title. The series opens up at the Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, Texas, March 17 and 18.
The Sunnyvale, Texas native came out of the gates fast. “We were fastest in our set of hot laps,” says Sam. “I thought we’d be pretty good. The track just wasn’t ready for us early. If we had gone out a little later, we would have been much better. That would have changed our story. I’m not saying we would have had quick time, but we would have been much closer.”
Sam would time in 15th quick and started inside row three in the third heat. “Early on, we hit the tire,” he says. “It was about the second lap. We were running fifth, but to be honest, I felt like we were going to advance a few positions. Obviously, you can’t advance when you’re hitting infield tires.”
That put him outside the front row in the B. “We were able to finally get by Kraig Kinser with two to go, and we were able to drive away to the win from there,” says Sam. “We were feeling good at that point.”
Sam put on a charge after starting 19th in the main event. “We slowly worked our way forward,” he says. “We were able to get up into the top ten and we passed (Daryn) Pittman for ninth with two to go. That’s when we hit the same infield tire again. You’d think I’d know where those tires are on that track, let alone hitting it twice!”
Despite the misfortune, he was happy about the night as a whole. “We had a lot of speed,” says Sam. “There was never a car I came up on during the night that I didn’t think we were faster. We buried ourselves in time trials, and we were trying to dig out of that the rest of the night.”
Sam and the team felt good about being competitive with the WoO. “We got going pretty good and got inside the top ten before we hit the tire,” he says. “It felt good to be mixing it up with the best, especially when we haven’t run with them very often. We’ve got some speed. I just need to eliminate my mistakes. We aren’t used to their tires or the flat wing, but we did well. I think we just changed a half a turn of weight and stagger all night long.”