T.J.’s Notebook: All Stars Line Up Another Stout Roster for 2020, GASC This Weekend

Sam Hafertepe Jr. (T.J. Buffenbarger photo)

By T.J. Buffenbarger

(January 21, 2020) — The Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions tour presented by Mobil1 added to its already stout lineup of drivers for the 2020 season with the official announcement that Sam Hafertepe Jr. would join the tour this season.

In discussions toward the end of 2019 it appeared Hafertepe was at a minimum, going to increase his 410 sprint car appearance for 2020. The All Stars have worked hard to sway a lot of teams leaning towards this direction to follow their tour.

After basing out of Texas for his ASCS efforts Hafertepe plans to operate from near Columbus for the summer while he chases the tour around the Midwest. With a lineup that returns defending All Star champion Aaron Reutzel, Cory Eliason, Skylar Gee, and Greg Wilson among others the All Stars will bring serious talent to each program again this year.

Hafertepe’s teammate Alex Hill will continue touring with the American Sprint Car Series competing in approximately 75% of the shows for 2020. For the programs Hill cannot make due to her obligations going to college at University of California Los Angeles. Look for some stand in drivers for the races that Hill cannot attend.

One thing that stood out about Hafertepe’s announcement was the congratulatory tweets from the ASCS National Tour. This is just another sign of cooperation between various sprint car touring series. While they don’t have to agree on everything, everyone gets along just enough to seemingly continue this steady popularity boost the sport is experiencing. Hafertepe’s departure from the ASCS Tour also creates opportunity for their season for another star to grow within its ranks.

Other notes:

  • With Chili Bowl competed there is no rest of the weary with the Grand Annual Sprint car Classic and the New Zealand Midget Car Title on the schedule this weekend. Kyle Larson’s Chili Bowl celebration was brief jetting out of Tulsa on Sunday to join his hired driver on the World of Outlaws tour, Carson Macedo, at Dyson Motorsports. Macedo has been fast in Dyson’s car all winter in Australia and should present Larson with a great opportunity to win Australia’s equivalent of the Knoxville Nationals.

    Larson joins American stars Shane Stewart, Tim Kaeding, and Buddy Kofoid who will compete during Friday’s preliminary program. The American contingent will take on a familiar face in James McFadden, who has carried momentum from the end of his American tour back home to Australia where he already has three victories in January. Other Australian standouts on Friday include defending Australian champion Andrew Scheuerle, 2019 Classic winner Robbie Farr, Jason Kendrick.

    Saturday has night Tim Shaffer, Cory Eliason, Carson Macedo and McKenna Hasse in action. Both Madsen brothers, Kerry and Ian, compete Saturday as well along with former Classic winners Brooke Tatnell, Jamie Veal, and Corey McCullagh.

    Last week the news was released that the Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic would be available for Dirtvision.com Fast Pass subscribers. The past several years I’ve set my alarm around 4:00 a.m. to catch the finale on Sunday. This year there will be at least two days of early rises thanks to Dirtvision picking up coverage.

  • New Zealand’s midget title is slated for Friday and Saturday at Ruapuna Speedway in Christchurch. Michael Pickens will try to cap off a strong season this winter with another title.
  • Troy DeCaire became the first driver to win a sprint car race in North America for the 2020 season Saturday at 417 Southern Speedway in Punta Gorda, FL. DeCaire managed this accomplishment after missing all of practice, the heat races, and starting on the tail of the feature.

    Adding to the night’s accomplishments DeCaire won a mini-modified feature, which DeCaire describes as a small modified with an Esslinger engine. When trying to discuss Saturday’s events DeCaire only wanted to talk about how happy he was to end up in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum North American 360 Sprint Car poll.

    DeCaire will attempt to increase his win total February 15-16 at 417 Southern Speedway and Showtime Speedway respectively leading into the 125 lap Dave Steele Non-Wing World Finals at Showtime on February 20.

  • If you are looking for a sprint car race in North America this weekend Stockton Dirt Track has you covered with the first of three early season 360 sprint car events on Saturday. Stockton will also run on February 8th and 22nd.