By Lonnie Wheatley,Tim Alwin photo
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (October 28, 2010) – Sam Hafertepe, Jr., picked an opportune time to capture his first career Lucas Oil ASCS presented by K&N Filters National win by topping the opening night of I-30 Speedway’s 23rd Annual COMP Cams Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires.
Less than two weeks shy of his 25th birthday, the Sunnyvale, TX, shoe outlasted a late bid from past Short Track Nationals champion Sammy Swindell to win Thursday night’s 25-lap preliminary feature atop the high-banked, ¼-mile clay oval.
And the victory came at an event that the younger Hafertepe wasn’t sure that he’d be able to compete in just a few short days ago.
“I’ve gotta thank my dad for getting us here tonight, we didn’t really have a motor and at the last minute he kinda surprised me and one showed up at the door,” Hafertepe explained. “It means a lot to come out and win this race.”
Hafertepe and Swindell both locked into Saturday night’s $15,000-to-win, $2,300-to-start STN finale along with Ohio’s Greg Wilson, who took third away from pole starter Brady Bacon on a lap eleven restart and held the position to the end.
After taking the lead away from Bacon on the second round, fourth-starter Hafertepe had the race well in hand until traffic became a factor in the final half-dozen circuits.
But, after Hafertepe biked the Plumb Fast Racing / Lone Star Speedway No. 15 through the turn one cushion on the 21st circuit, Swindell closed the gap in short order and moved in for the kill. Swindell slid into the lead in turns one and two on the 23rd lap, only to have Hafertepe dive back to the low side and beat Swindell to turn three.
“I left the door open a little bit for him to come back and he was really trying hard, it wasn’t worth not finishing,” Swindell explained of the late exchange. “He (Hafertepe) did a good job, he didn’t lose his cool and he ran some good laps.”
After trading the point on the 23rd lap, Hafertepe held steady out front over the final two circuits to secure the win and locked into his third career STN finale and first since 2007.
“To win races of this magnitude you’ve gotta put it all out there, if you don’t then you’re gonna run third,” Hafertepe explained.
While Hafertepe beat Swindell’s Big Game Tree Stands No. 1 entry to the stripe by a pair of car-lengths, Wilson brought the No. w20 machine across the stripe in the show position.
“A lot of fans and stuff around home are doubting my abilities right now, so it’s neat to come to a big race like this and run good,” Wilson explained after locking into his second career STN championship finale. “I can’t say enough about my car owner Verl Warnimont for standing behind me and we’re building for next year right now.”
After accumulating the most passing points through heat race and qualifying race action, Bacon crossed the stripe fourth in the Tel-Star Communications No. 99 Triple-X, with Darren Stewart climbing a handful of positions in the Sparks Construction No. 91 to round out the top five.
Wayne Johnson, who started to Bacon’s outside on the front row, was sixth in front of Jonathan Cornell and 14th-starter Tim Shaffer. Two-time and defending STN champion Tony Bruce, Jr., ran sixth in the early going before settling for ninth at the stripe.
Brodix Rookie of the Year contender Channin Tankersley completed the top ten while four-time STN winner Gary Wright’s 400th career Lucas Oil ASCS National feature start netted a finish of eleventh after starting 13th.
Current Lucas Oil ASCS National points leader Jason Johnson averted near disaster in a qualifying race mishap and then advanced from 17th to 12th in the main event.
The feature was interrupted by just a pair of cautions, the first occurring after five laps when Kyle Hirst got crossed up exiting turn four and collected Eric Baldaccini and Brian McClelland. McClelland continued while Hirst and Baldaccini were forced pitside. The second and final caution appeared five laps later when David Gravel slipped off the track in turn two. Gravel rejoined the chase.
Jonathan Beason, Swindell, Mike Hess, Stewart, Bacon, Hirst and Hafertepe topped heat race action for Thursday night’s 55-car field, with Bacon, W. Johnson, Cornell, Bruce, Jr., and Jerrod Hull winning the 12-lap qualifying races.
One race shy of a second ASCS Sooner title, Sean McClelland’s Short Track Nationals came to a quick halt when the field stacked up at the start of the second heat race and he was launched into the frontstretch wall. While the car suffered severe damage, McClelland was uninjured.
The second half of the 23rd Annual COMP Cams Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires field will take to the track on Friday night, with racing action set to go green at 7:30 p.m.
23rd Annual COMP Cams Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires Thursday Night Results:
First Heat (10 Laps): 1. 36-Jonathan Beason, 2. 4b-Eric Baldaccini, 3. 7h-Lewis Jenkins, Jr., 4. 12h-Jerrod Hull, 5. 7y-Don Young, 6. 12T-Joe Young, 7. 31-Brandon Berryman, 8. 69-Larry Howery.
Second Heat (10 Laps): 1. 1s-Sammy Swindell, 2. 28-Jonathan Cornell, 3. 5L-Eric Lutz, 4. 72-Sherman Davis, 5. 21T-Ray Allen Kulhanek, 6. W20-Greg Wilson, 7. 14m-Jordon Mallett, 8. 1m-Sean McClelland.
Third Heat (10 Laps): 1. 18h-Mike Hess, 2. 89g-David Gravel, 3. 1p-Curtis Evans, 4. 71-Channin Tankersley, 5. 8x-Chris Williams, 6. 165-Haley Arnold, 7. 8tw-Kent Lewis, Jr., 8. 1b-Tim Law.
Fourth Heat (10 Laps): 1. 91-Darren Stewart, 2. 46-Jan Howard, 3. 41-Jason Johnson, 4. 18b-Tony Bruce, Jr., 5. 03-Joe Wood, Jr., 6. 0c-Preston Peebles II, 7. 11m-Justin Melton, 8. 11c-Dakota Carroll.
Fifth Heat (10 Laps): 1. 99-Brady Bacon, 2. 77x-Wayne Johnson, 3. 74e-Claud Estes, 4. 3s-John Carney II, 5. 5r-Jerod Roller, 6. 1x-Gary Taylor, 7. 22y-Dennis Yoakam, 8. 8h-Joey Moughan.
Sixth Heat (10 Laps): 1. 6h-Kyle Hirst, 2. 16a-Koty Adams, 3. 27-Andy Shouse, 4. 87m-Brian McClelland, 5. 16n-Anthony Nicholson, 6. 4s-Tommy Snellgrove, 7. 9g-Jared Georges, 8. 76-John Ricketts.
Seventh Heat (10 Laps): 1. 15-Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 2. 87r-Aaron Reutzel, 3. 9x-Gary Wright, 4. 83-Tim Shaffer, 5. 26m-Marshall Skinner, 6. 0-Jason Martin, 7. 9h-Derek Hagar.
Qualifying Races – Winner from Each Qualifier Locked into “A” Main; Balance of 20-car Feature Field comprised of Top 15 Overall Points Accumulated Through Heats & Qualifiers (Feature Lined up according to total points)
First Qualifier (12 Laps): 1. 99-Brady Bacon, 2. W20-Greg Wilson, 3. 83-Tim Shaffer, 4. 4b-Eric Baldaccini, 5. 7h-Lewis Jenkins, Jr., 6. 1p-Curtis Evans, 7. 14m-Jordon Mallett, 8. 69-Larry Howery, 9. 36-Jonathan Beason, 10. 18h-Mike Hess, 11. 31-Brandon Berryman.
Second Qualifier (12 Laps): 1. 77x-Wayne Johnson, 2. 03-Joe Wood, Jr., 3. 6h-Kyle Hirst, 4. 91-Darren Stewart, 5. 0-Jason Martin, 6. 11m-Justin Melton, 7. 16a-Koty Adams, 8. 9g-Jared Georges, 9. 5L-Eric Lutz, 10. 1b-Tim Law, 11. 7y-Don Young.
Third Qualifier (12 Laps): 1. 28-Jonathan Cornell, 2. 15-Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 3. 89g-David Gravel, 4. 21T-Ray Allen Kulhanek, 5. 16n-Anthony Nicholson, 6. 41-Jason Johnson, 7. 0c-Preston Peebles II, 8. 5r-Jerod Roller, 9. 72-Sherman Davis, 10. 11c-Dakota Carroll, 11. 9h-Derek Hagar.
Fourth Qualifier (12 Laps): 1. 18b-Tony Bruce, Jr., 2. 87m-Brian McClelland, 3. 71-Channin Tankersley, 4. 74e-Claud Estes, 5. 46-Jan Howard, 6. 1x-Gary Taylor, 7. 27-Andy Shouse, 8. 26m-Marshall Skinner, 9. 165-Haley Arnold, 10. 22y-Dennis Yoakam, 11. 76-John Ricketts.
Fifth Qualifier (12 Laps): 1. 12h-Jerrod Hull, 2. 1s-Sammy Swindell, 3. 87r-Aaron Reutzel, 4. 9x-Gary Wright, 5. 3s-John Carney II, 6. 12T-Joe Young, 7. 8x-Chris Williams, 8. 8tw-Kent Lewis, Jr., 9. 8h-Joey Moughan, 10. 4s-Tommy Snellgrove. DNS: 1m-Sean McClelland.
“A” Feature – Top 3 Finishers Locked into Saturday night’s $15,000 to win STN Finale.
A Feature (25 Laps – Starting position in parentheses): 1. 15-Sam Hafertepe, Jr. (4), 2. 1s-Sammy Swindell (3), 3. W20-Greg Wilson (8), 4. 99-Brady Bacon (1), 5. 91-Darren Stewart (10), 6. 77x-Wayne Johnson (2), 7. 28-Jonathan Cornell (5), 8. 83-Tim Shaffer (14), 9. 18b-Tony Bruce, Jr. (7), 10. 71-Channin Tankersley (12), 11. 9x-Gary Wright (13), 12. 41-Jason Johnson (17), 13. 87r-Aaron Reutzel (16), 14. 12h-Jerrod Hull (15), 15. 03-Joe Wood, Jr. (18), 16. 74e-Claud Estes (6), 17. 87m-Brian McClelland (20), 18. 89g-David Gravel (11), 19. 6h-Kyle Hirst (9), 20. 4b-Eric Baldaccini (19).
Lap Leaders: Brady Bacon 1, Sam Hafertepe, Jr. 2-25.
Video Highlights courtesy of High Vista Video