From Bryan Hulbert
BELGRADE, Mont. (July 6, 2018) – Picking up his second win of the season with the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series presented by Sawblade.com, Matt Covington became the third Oklahoman in as many years to stand with Adam the Grizzly Bear at Gallatin Speedway; winning Night 1 of the NAPA Grizzly Nationals.
“Honestly, I’m a little nervous. You don’t think about it when you’re out there racing, but now that they’ve talked to me and the fence is going up, it’s a little different,” stated Matt as the Grizzly Bear began working towards Victory Lane.
Rolling to the green from the pole, Covington worked the low line of the three-eighths-mile oval only to have Sam Hafertepe, Jr. roar around the cushion through turns three and four of the opening laps to grab the race lead.
“That first part of the race, I really didn’t run a good race. I should have jumped up on the top, but I thought the bottom was going to be the place to be early. Sam showed us that it wasn’t, then Harli when by so then I jumped up there with them and chased them back down. Sam ended up blowing a tire there towards the end, and luckily we were able to finish those last five laps so we’re fortunate to be in Victory Lane.”
Racing back and forth with Harli White for the runner-up spot, Covington gained the advantage for second as Hafertepe rolled into lapped traffic with four laps complete. Picking his way around the slower cars, Hafertepe built a comfortable advantage of over four seconds. Held up enough to allow Covington to close the gap just after the race’s half-way point, the Heidbreder Foundation No. 15h was still not within striking distance.
Caution on Lap 19 as Johnny Herrera rolled to a stop with a flat tire off the second turn. Lapped cars in the lineup gave Hafertepe a nice four car advantage over Matt Covington. The restart saw Blake Hahn now in pursuit of the T&L Foundry No. 95 for second.
Clicking off Lap 21 however, tire conservation would come into play as both Hafertepe and Hahn saw their right rear tires expire. Moving Covington to the lead with Harli White back to second, the pair raced close the final four laps, but it would be Matt Covington holding on for the win. Scoring her best career finish with the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series presented by Sawblade.com, Harli White was joined on the podium by 2017 Grizzly Nationals winner, Wayne Johnson.
Scott Bogucki crossed fourth but failed to report to post-race-tech and was disqualified, moving Skylar Gee into the final transfer spot for Saturday’s A-Feature, as well as making him the CP-Carrillo Hard Charger of the night with 10 positions gained. Posting his best finish with the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series presented by Sawblade.com, Montana’s Trever Kirkland rounded out the top-five.
Seth Bergman crossed sixth with Travis Rilat moving from 10th to seventh. Alberta’s Kelly Miller was eighth with Sam Hafertepe, Jr. rebounding to a ninth-place finish despite the flat tire with four laps to go and holds the point’s lead by a mere two markers. Recovering from a flat tire as well, Blake Hahn completed the top-ten.
The NAPA Grizzly Nationals at Gallatin Speedway wraps up on Saturday, July 7 with gates opening at 5:00 P.M. and racing at 7:00 P.M. (MDT). Gallatin Speedway is located at 2290 Tubb Rd in Belgrade, Mont. For more information on Gallatin Speedway, call (406) 388-9666, find the track on Facebook or go online to http://www.gallatinspeedway.com.
For other news, notes, and information on the American Sprint Car Series, from the National Tour to any of the Regional Tours that make up the nearly 150 races across the ASCS Nation in 2018, log onto http://www.ascsracing.com, follow on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter (@LucasOilASCS).
Lucas Oil ASCS National Tour
ASCS Frontier Region
Gallatin Speedway – Belgrade, Mont.
3rd annual Grizzly Nationals – Night 1
Friday, July 6, 2018
Heat Races (Top 16 advance to the A-Feature, Top 8 in Passing Points redraw)
Heat 1 (8 Laps): 1. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr, ; 2. 2JR-Kelly Miller, ; 3. 99-Skylar Gee, ; 4. 1-Travis Rilat, ; 5. 33-Robert DeHaan, ; 6. 88-Travis Reber, ; 7. 4-Bill Carey, ; 8. 2-James Setters, 
Heat 2 (8 Laps): 1. 95-Matt Covington, ; 2. 2C-Wayne Johnson, ; 3. 37-Trever Kirkland, ; 4. 23N-J.J. Hickle, ; 5. 9K-Kory Wermling, ; 6. 27DD-David Hoiness, ; 7. 3-Jordan Milne, ; (DNS) 10B-Brody Anderson,
Heat 3 (8 Laps): 1. 17W-Harli White, ; 2. 45X-Johnny Herrera, ; 3. 28-Scott Bogucki, ; 4. 77X-Alex Hill, ; 5. 5J-Jamie Ball, ; 6. 4P-John (J.R. Nelson Nelson, ; 7. (DNF) 24-Leroy Brush, 
Heat 4 (8 Laps): 1. 52-Blake Hahn, ; 2. 74U-Chauncey Filler, ; 3. 38B-Bryan Brown, ; 4. 56-Shad Petersen, ; 5. 8X-Randy Dolberg, ; 6. 14-Ben Holmberg, ; 7. 65-T.J. Thorne, 
Heat 5 (8 Laps): 1. 23-Seth Bergman, ; 2. 44-Chris Martin, ; 3. 35M-Cody Masse, ; 4. 00-Roger Cummings, ; 5. 2X-Mike Manwill, ; 6. 4N-John Nelson, ; (DNS) 77-Damon McCune,
BMRS B-Features (Top 3 in each advance to the A-Feature)
B Feature 1 (12 Laps): 1. 77X-Alex Hill, ; 2. 88-Travis Reber, ; 3. 9K-Kory Wermling, ; 4. 65-T.J. Thorne, ; 5. 8X-Randy Dolberg, ; 6. 56-Shad Petersen, ; 7. 4-Bill Carey, ; 8. 14-Ben Holmberg, ; 9. 24-Leroy Brush, ; 10. (DNF) 77-Damon McCune, ; (DNS) 2X-Mike Manwill,
B Feature 2 (12 Laps): 1. 27DD-David Hoiness, ; 2. 33-Robert DeHaan, ; 3. 5J-Jamie Ball, ; 4. 3-Jordan Milne, ; 5. 2-James Setters, ; 6. 4N-John Nelson, ; 7. 10B-Brody Anderson, ; 8. (DNF) 4P-John (J.R. Nelson Nelson, ; 9. (DNF) 00-Roger Cummings, ; 10. (DNF) 23N-J.J. Hickle, 
Protect the Harvest A-Feature (Top 4 lock into Saturday night’s A-Feature):
A Feature (25 Laps): 1. 95-Matt Covington, ; 2. 17W-Harli White, ; 3. 2C-Wayne Johnson, ; 4. 99-Skylar Gee, ; 5. 37-Trever Kirkland, ; 6. 23-Seth Bergman, ; 7. 1-Travis Rilat, ; 8. 2JR-Kelly Miller, ; 9. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr, ; 10. 52-Blake Hahn, ; 11. 27DD-David Hoiness, ; 12. 77X-Alex Hill, ; 13. 38B-Bryan Brown, ; 14. 44-Chris Martin, ; 15. 88-Travis Reber, ; 16. 35M-Cody Masse, ; 17. 33-Robert DeHaan, ; 18. 5J-Jamie Ball, ; 19. 9K-Kory Wermling, ; 20. (DNF) 45X-Johnny Herrera, ; 21. (DNF) 74U-Chauncey Filler, ; 22. (DNF) 3-Jordan Milne, ; 23. (DNF) 56-Shad Petersen, ; (DQ) 28-Scott Bogucki,  ***Bogucki did not report to scales / post-race tech and was Disqualified.
Lap Leader(s): Sam Hafertepe, Jr. 1-21; Matt Covington 22-25
CP-Carrillo Hard Charger: Skylar Gee +10
FSR High Point Driver: Sam Hafertepe, Jr.
Provisional(s): Shad Petersen (Regional); Jordan Milne