From Daryl Turford
SUNNYVALE, TX – For the past 2 weeks one of the fastest cars on The World of Outlaws (WoO) tour has been the #15H Lone Star Speedway Maxim-Fisher of Sunnyvale, Texas youngster Sam Hafertepe Jr. Hafertepe who had been fast on occasion but inconsistent seems to have found a successful combination with legendary wrench Guy Forbrook and together the two are hoping to find victory lane this weekend at two tracks they both are fond of, Eldora Speedway and Lernerville Speedway.
Hafertepe, 24 has been making the calls on the car since his rookie season on The WoO tour in 2007 and aside from a few races has never had a true crew chief.
“Its been really hard trying to do this on my own,” explained Sam. “I think in the long run it has made me stronger and that I had an advantage from being in the cockpit but I’m still young and relatively inexperienced out here so I think some of the times I don’t necessarily make the right decisions and I’ve never really had anyone who could point me in the right direction on a night to night basis. There’s some nights like at Sedalia earlier this year where calling my own shots has paid off immensely but there’s been too many nights where we run 13th. I want to find some consistency now and I think Guy has brought that to our team.”
The duo first spoke at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in the spring where Sam set fast time in time trials.
“We spoke for probably half an hour in the pits at Lowe’s,” recalled Sam. “I came away really impressed but he told us he had a commitment with Ray Evernham and that he was going to fulfill it.”
As the 2010 Knoxville Nationals loomed the relationship between Evernham and Forbrook ended and freed up the legendary wrench to come work for The Plumbfast Racing Team.
The timing couldn’t have worked out better for Sam.
“It was just myself and crew member Daryl Turford working on the car through The Nationals and the Western swing” explained Sam. “We had people helping with the driving but it was just Daryl and I working on the cars, we had some wrecks and went through a bunch of rear end and driveline problems and it was just becoming really overwhelming.”
Fortunately for the team Forbrook had become available at this point and was flown in for The Cold Cup in Chico, California.
It took the team a bit of time to gel but following a strong B Main performance Thursday night that saw Sam transfer to the A Main things seemed to click. Sam turned in an astonishing performance as he hammered the treacherous cushion in turns 3 and 4 all night to charge from 22nd to 5th in the A Main.
The following night the team kept up the momentum and blistered the field for fast time. Unfortunately though Sam fell from his 3rd place starting position in the A Main to 8th at the finish.
“That was just some growing pains,” explained Sam. “We were worried about points and Guy told me just to get a solid finish and get us locked in for Saturday night. That kind of got into my head and I really wasn’t on kill during the feature. I told him the next day to always just tell me to drive the damn car.”
The team locked themselves into the A Main with their performance but had a disastrous Gold Cup as they destroyed a car after another car blew a tire in front of them leaving Sam nowhere to go.
The team headed to Spencer, Iowa where once again they were fast in time trials as Sam set 2nd quick time. The race was a struggle however as Sam slipped through the field throughout the A Main.
One night later the team found themselves at Deer Creek Speedway in Forbrook’s home state of Minnesota.
“Last year at Deer Creek we set the track record in time trials and we came in determined to hold the record when we left this year,” explained Sam. “Unfortunately just before we went out Joey Saldana went out and broke the record, we were the very next car, Guy had it perfect and wouldn’t you know it we went out and broke the track record again!”.
The duo worked well together throughout the rest of the night and appeared to be headed for a great finish when several cars got together in front of Sam leaving him nowhere to go. Hafertepe flipped hard and destroyed the race car to end what had been an impressive night.
“Guy and I really worked together well and we had a really fast car for the feature,” recalled Sam. “The thing was on a rail, I don’t think we could have driven by Joey or Jason Meyers but I really think we had a car to finish on the podium.”
The Plumbfast Racing Team is now off to Eldora Speedway where they look forward to continued success.
“Guy is known for always having fast cars at Eldora and it’s my favorite race track,” said Sam. “I really love that place, we are always fast there and together with Guy I think we might have something for everyone this weekend.”
The team is also continuing to grow together.
“We are working really hard to find a baseline right now,” said Sam. “We know it’s going to take some time and we are going to have nights like we did at Spencer but I also know there are going to be more nights when we are just going to be flat out fast.”
The team has also hired former Hafertepe wrench Kirk Reinhert to help out for the next few weeks.
“We are really happy to have Kirk helping us.” said Sam. “He is going to stay with us through Indiana and he seems to really get along well with Guy and Daryl, he’s been a really big help and has also taken a lot of weight off my shoulders so that I can concentrate on doing my job in the driver’s seat. We have a really strong team assembled right now and I think we have as good of a chance as ever to get our first win this weekend.”