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News

Hafertepe Jr. Recovers With 2nd In Virginia

5/25/2009

Daryl Turford) Sunnyvale, Texas-It was another frustrating night for the Plumbfast Racing Team at Lowes Motor Speedway as another decent run for the Fusion Energy Boost 15H ended with a flat right rear tire. However just one night later the team was able to bounce back as Sam scored his best career World of Outlaws (WoO) finish with a 2nd place at Virginia Motor Speedway.
At Lowes Sam's night did not get off to the best of starts as he was one of the slowest cars in warm-ups and could only muster a lap that was good enough for 19th quick.

Crew chief Chris Strait and crew member Kory Miller went to work and were able to find some speed in time trials as Hafertepe was able to time in 13th quick. Unfortunately due to the car count the World of Outlaws (WoO) were only inverting 12 cars and as a result Sam found himself on the outside looking in when it came time to line up the heats.

"Time trials are very critical out here on the Outlaw tour", explained Sam. "Everyone is so even so you have to get everything you can out of your laps. You hear that all of the time but it's so true, we missed the pole of our heat tonight by .006 seconds".

Under the bright lights of the SpeedTV television cameras and in front of a packed house Sam was able to move forward in the heat and was even able to work his way around the night's eventual winner Joey Saldana on his way to a 4th place finish in the heat.
The Fusion Energy Boost 15H lined up for the night's feature race on the outside of row 7. Hafertepe was able to get a decent start and immediately worked his way around the bottom of the speedway.

The early laps saw Sam in an intense duel with the likes of Randy Hannagan, Kraig Kinser, Jac Haudenschild and Danny Lasoski. Sam was able to find some bite on the bottom and was in the middle of executing a 4-wide passing attempt when it was negated by an early race caution flag.

On the restart Sam continued to work the bottom of the speedway and was able to out-duel Kinser and Haudenschild and began to set his sights on Danny Lasoski. Together the pair was able to reel in Cale Conley and Brooke Tatnell. Hafertepe was in the midst of setting up Tatnell for a pass when the Australian broke abruptly heading into turn 1 to bring out a yellow on lap 21.
The late race yellow would once again be the Plumbfast Racing Team's downfall and again it was an issue with the right rear tire. Strait and Miller had noticed that the right rear appeared to be deflating and under the yellow Sam was forced to head to the pits.

The race was past the halfway point and as a result Strait and Miller with the help of some of Danny Lasoski's crew would have to work fast. Unfortunately before the tire could be changed the race went green again and stayed that way until the finish leaving Sam to sit helplessly and watch as yet another decent run slipped away.

"This is starting to really get old", explained the frustrated 3rd year WoO racer. "Tonight a bleeder stuck open and as a result the tire was losing air throughout the run. If the race would have stayed green we probably would have been able to nurse the car home but as soon as the race went yellow we were in big trouble".

The Plumbfast Racing Team didn't have any time to rest as they drove through the night to Virgina Motor Speedway.
Hafertepe and the Fusion Energy Boost 15H served notice that they would be contenders as Sam was 2nd quick in his warm-up session behind Brian Ellenberger.

The track was still fairly greasy following extra hot lap sessions and the team was afraid that their early draw would hurt them. Fortunately that would not be the case as Sam blistered the Speedway for 5th quick time.
?I heard Steve run a 15.1 and I decided that I was going to blast my way around this place even if the conditions weren't perfect", explained Sam. "Turns 3 and 4 were pretty greasy but I decided to haul it off in there and see if we could make it stick. Fortunately we were good and we actually had quick time for a while with a 15.0. I think a lot of the guys who went out late that were faster than us actually learned quite a bit from the way I drove turns 3 and 4".

A tight race car would result in a frustrating 5th place run in the heat but things were looking up as Sam's time trial effort was good enough to earn him a dash starting spot.

"Kraig Kinser and I were waiting to draw and we knew there was only a 2 or a 9 left", recalled Hafertepe. "I told Kraig I knew I was getting the 9 but he did me a favour, pulled the 9 and put us on the front row for the Dash".

Sam got the jump at the start of the dash but it was Joey Saldana who came from the outside of row 2 who would lead the first lap and eventually win the Dash as Sam chased him home in 2nd.

"All night up to that point the top in 1 and 2 had been greasy so I figured once I had the bottom in 1 and 2 that the Dash was ours, I sure didn't expect to see Joey make the top work like that on the start", said Hafertepe.
The feature race would once again be another showdown between Sam and the KKR racer. At the drop of the green flag Sam got a great jump but Joey was able to lead into turns 1 and 2 with Jason Meyers also getting by Sam for 2nd. In a year filled with bad breaks Sam finally caught a fortunate one as a crash would result in a complete restart.

"I knew Joey was going to slide me going into turn 1", explained Sam. "I tried to cross back underneath of him but there was just no track down there and that let Jason get by me. I decided on the next start that no matter what I would be rolling the top".

Sam would once again get the jump on the restart but Joey would power ahead down the straightaway and lead the Fusion Energy Boost 15H into turns 1 and 2.

The duo hit traffic on lap 3 and the race would become a contest to see who could run traffic better as there would be no yellows to slow the pace. Saldana had trouble with the first few lapped cars as Sam was able to pass them seemingly effortlessly and close the gap on Joey. Saldana was able to get around the lapped car of Jeff Busby but it would take a few laps for Sam to get it done which allowed Joey to pull away. Hafertepe finally disposed of Busby and was able to draw side by side with Saldana down the backstretch near the midway point of the race but Joey was able to hold him off.

As the race wore on Saldana began to stretch his lead in traffic while Sam held 2nd all by himself.

"Joey started to take more chances towards the end of the race and it seemed to really pay off for him", said Sam. "I feel like if we could have gotten him early we could have won this race because we were pretty even in open track".

There would be one last scare for Hafertepe as he hopped the cushion in turn 4 with 1 lap remaining but Sam was able to gather it up, settle down and run the last lap without incident to score his best career WoO finish.
"We needed this really badly", said the proud racer. "We've only finished 7 races all year and we've been working so hard. Chris, Kory and Daryl did a great job tonight and I'm really happy to see them get rewarded with this run".
The Plumbfast Racing Team won't have much time to dwell on their performance as the tour hits Canandaigua, New York on Monday night.

"Hopefully we can build on our momentum", said Hafertepe. "We tend to struggle on the big, slick half-miles but we are getting better".

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