Hafertepe Jr. Opens Speedweek at Texarkana with Second-Straight Win

Sam Hafertepe Jr. Emily Schwanke Photo

By Spence Smithback
TEXARKANA, AR (June 12, 2024) – Sam Hafertepe Jr. confirmed his position as a championship threat Tuesday night, picking up his second win in as many races in the ASCS Speedweek lid-lifter at Texarkana 67 Speedway.

The victory was Hafertepe’s 67th American Sprint Car Series National Tour score and moved him into second in the standings, 68 points behind leader Seth Bergman and 36 markers clear of Matt Covington in third.

Bergman’s Dash victory gave him the pole position in the Feature, which he converted into several laps out front early on. The race was interrupted by a trio of early cautions, with Andrew Deal, Bradley Fezard and Michael Day each encountering trouble in the first 10 laps.

While Bergman was able to maintain the lead after each ensuing restart, Hafertepe stayed within striking zone through the first dozen laps.

“With [Bergman] being out front, he’s not able to see the parts of the racetrack that I’m racing in,” Hafertepe said. “I felt like that gave us an advantage to get in the right spot on the racetrack.”

Once the rash of yellows ended, Hafertepe made his move on Lap 14. While Bergman was riding the bottom groove, Hafertepe took the No. 15H to the wall in Turn 1, got side-by-side with Bergman in the center of the corner, and powered away to the lead off Turn 2.

By the time the pair made it to the other end of the track, the slower car of Terry Easum was blocking Bergman’s progress on the bottom, which allowed Hafertepe to extend his advantage.

“While [Bergman] stuck down to the bottom, we were able to make some slides across 1 and 2 to try some different lines there,” Hafertepe said. “And then in 3 and 4 I was kind of committed to the top all race.”

Rear end issues for reigning champion Jason Martin paused the race on Lap 19, erasing the 1.2-second lead Hafertepe had built over the previous five laps. When action resumed, Hafertepe immediately drove off to a one-second lead over Bergman just one lap after the restart.

Hafertepe’s cruise to victory was slowed once more for an incident involving Cody Gardner and Blake Hahn with two laps remaining in the 30-lap affair. While the dash to the finish gave the field one last chance to challenge Hafertepe, they were unable to capitalize as the Texan took the checkered flag 1.5 seconds ahead of Bergman in second.

“I just wanted to try and get my momentum up,” Hafertepe said. “I knew once we got to traffic, it would be hard for him to get his momentum up. I felt like that’s ultimately what won us the race.”

While back-to-back National Tour wins would be a dream come true for most Sprint Car teams, Hafertepe said his team still isn’t satisfied with their current performance.

“We’re actually going to pull out our other car for Creek [County Speedway] to try it out,” Hafertepe said. “I just haven’t been real happy with this car. We’ve won two races on it, but on tracks like this where we’re getting a lot of grip from the track. We’re going to pull down another car for Creek and see if we can’t get a little bit better there.”

While Bergman’s fourth podium finish of the season was enough to maintain a comfortable points lead, he admitted that a lack of versatility was his critical flaw on the night.

“I don’t think he was a whole lot better,” Bergman said. “I think he may have been a touch better car-wise, but he moved around and found a different part of the racetrack, and I just kind of limited myself to a certain part of the racetrack and didn’t move around enough.”

While he was unable to challenge the top two, a third-place run for Covington vaulted him from fifth to third in the standings as he enters a three-night stretch in his native Oklahoma.

“Hafertepe and Bergman, they’re just so on right now that a guy can be just a tick off and look like what you saw there,” Covington said. “We got to them and couldn’t do anything with them.”

Two-time National Tour champion Blake Hahn brought the No. 52 machine home in fourth in his first Feature start of the season with the Series, matching his career-best at Texarkana from 2022.

Hank Davis finished his third night with the TwoC Racing team in fifth, his third-straight top five with the Series.

The Hard Charger Award went to Austyn Gossel, who drove from 17th to eighth for his first National Tour top 10.

UP NEXT: After a day off, ASCS Speedweek resumes Thursday at Creek County Speedway in Oklahoma. Tickets will be available at the gate, while those unable to make it to the track can catch every lap live on DIRTVision.

Feature (30 Laps): 1. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr[4]; 2. 23-Seth Bergman[1]; 3. 95-Matt Covington[9]; 4. 52-Blake Hahn[3]; 5. 2C-Hank Davis[10]; 6. 55B-Jordon Mallett[8]; 7. 5H-Harli White[12]; 8. 16G-Austyn Gossel[17]; 9. 15D-Andrew Deal[13]; 10. 22M-Rees Moran[16]; 11. 6-Koty Adams[11]; 12. 2J-Zach Blurton[21]; 13. 13-Elijah Gile[2]; 14. V8-Robert Vetter[18]; 15. 6G-Bryan Gossel[24]; 16. 88-Terry Easum[19]; 17. G6-Cody Gardner[5]; 18. 36-Jason Martin[7]; 19. 10-Landon Britt[14]; 20. 38-Zach Pringle[20]; 21. 91-Michael Day[22]; 22. 938-Bradley Fezard[15]; 23. (DNS) 71-Brady Baker; 24. (DNS) 45X-Kyler Johnson

B Feature 1 (10 Laps): 1. 22M-Rees Moran[3]; 2. 16G-Austyn Gossel[4]; 3. V8-Robert Vetter[5]; 4. 88-Terry Easum[6]; 5. 38-Zach Pringle[8]; 6. 2J-Zach Blurton[9]; 7. 91-Michael Day[7]; 8. 6G-Bryan Gossel[2]; 9. 30-Joseph Miller[10]; 10. (DNS) 9-Josh McCord; 11. (DNS) 45X-Kyler Johnson

Dash 1 (5 Laps): 1. 23-Seth Bergman[1]; 2. 13-Elijah Gile[2]; 3. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr[4]; 4. 52-Blake Hahn[3]; 5. G6-Cody Gardner[5]; 6. 71-Brady Baker[6]

Heat 1 (8 Laps): 1. G6-Cody Gardner[1]; 2. 23-Seth Bergman[2]; 3. 95-Matt Covington[3]; 4. 5H-Harli White[6]; 5. 15D-Andrew Deal[5]; 6. 22M-Rees Moran[9]; 7. V8-Robert Vetter[8]; 8. (DNS) 9-Josh McCord; 9. (DNS) 30-Joseph Miller

Heat 2 (8 Laps): 1. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr[3]; 2. 36-Jason Martin[1]; 3. 2C-Hank Davis[2]; 4. 52-Blake Hahn[4]; 5. 10-Landon Britt[5]; 6. 6G-Bryan Gossel[6]; 7. 88-Terry Easum[7]; 8. 38-Zach Pringle[8]; 9. 45X-Kyler Johnson[9]

Heat 3 (8 Laps): 1. 71-Brady Baker[1]; 2. 55B-Jordon Mallett[2]; 3. 6-Koty Adams[3]; 4. 13-Elijah Gile[4]; 5. 938-Bradley Fezard[5]; 6. 16G-Austyn Gossel[8]; 7. 91-Michael Day[6]; 8. 2J-Zach Blurton[7]

Qualifying 1 (2 Laps): 1. 9-Josh McCord, 00:13.226[4]; 2. G6-Cody Gardner, 00:13.319[7]; 3. 23-Seth Bergman, 00:13.343[5]; 4. 95-Matt Covington, 00:13.369[6]; 5. 15D-Andrew Deal, 00:13.437[2]; 6. 5H-Harli White, 00:13.786[3]; 7. 30-Joseph Miller, 00:13.900[1]; 8. V8-Robert Vetter, 00:14.235[8]; 9. 22M-Rees Moran, 00:14.276[9]

Qualifying 2 (2 Laps): 1. 52-Blake Hahn, 00:13.337[8]; 2. 36-Jason Martin, 00:13.348[6]; 3. 2C-Hank Davis, 00:13.422[3]; 4. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr, 00:13.470[9]; 5. 10-Landon Britt, 00:13.603[2]; 6. 6G-Bryan Gossel, 00:13.770[5]; 7. 88-Terry Easum, 00:13.789[4]; 8. 38-Zach Pringle, 00:13.916[1]; 9. 45X-Kyler Johnson, 00:13.925[7]

Qualifying 3 (2 Laps): 1. 13-Elijah Gile, 00:13.283[4]; 2. 71-Brady Baker, 00:13.474[2]; 3. 55B-Jordon Mallett, 00:13.501[1]; 4. 6-Koty Adams, 00:13.517[6]; 5. 938-Bradley Fezard, 00:13.639[5]; 6. 91-Michael Day, 00:14.111[8]; 7. 2J-Zach Blurton, 00:14.246[7]; 8. 16G-Austyn Gossel, 00:14.382[3]

The American Sprint Car Series was founded in 1992, comprised of regional races primarily in the Southwest region. It then went national in 1993 and has become the premier 360 Sprint Car Series in the country, while still sanctioning nine regional series that include 360 Sprint Cars, 410 Sprint Cars and Non-Wing Sprint Cars. ASCS is supported by DIRTVision, Hoosier Racing Tire, Racing Electronics and VP Racing.