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Hafertepe Jr. Has Tough Weekend In Indiana


Sunnyvale, Texas-Sam Hafertepe Jr and the Plumbfast Racing Team had high hopes heading into this past weekend’s races at Lawrenceburg Speedway but unfortunately the team was not able to keep up the momentum it had been building in the previous weeks as they came home with 23rd and 13th place finishes.

Sam’s first ever laps at Lawrenceburg were fast ones as the Sunnyvale, TX racer was the fastest in the first warm-up session over Joey Saldana and Brooke Tatnell.

Hafertepe was the first driver to take a lap in time trials however Sam’s effort came to an abrupt end when he stopped on the race track almost immediately after taking the green flag. A power steering line blew and drenched the cockpit with fluid. Sam and crew member Kory Miller were able to fix the problem before time trials ended which allowed Sam to take the Fusion Energy Boost #15H out for 1 time trial lap. Hafertepe crossed the line with a lap of 12.333 which was good for 23rd position.

Sam lined up for his heat race outside of row 3 and 1 position out of a direct transfer to the A Feature. On the initial start Sam was racing into turn 1 when front row starters Craig Dollansky and Todd Kane got together which resulted in Dollansky spinning and a complete restart.

Sam attacked the topside of turns 1 and 2 to power by Danny Lasoski for the 3rd position on the next start and began to set his sights on a Dash position. Lap after lap Hafertepe flirted with disaster on the rough cushion and soon began closing in on Todd Kane. On lap 6 Sam tried ducking under Kane exiting turn 2 but gave up too much momentum which allowed Lasoski to slip back by just as the red flag flew for a wreck on the front straightaway.

The final 4 laps saw another yellow but the race from there on out the race was relatively uneventful for Sam as he brought the Fusion Energy Boost #15H J&J home in 4th to qualify for the A Feature.

The Plumbfast Racing Team went into the feature race hoping for a repeat of Attica the week before when Sam was able to charge from deep in the field to a top 5 finish however at the drop of the green flag it was obvious that history would not repeat itself.

“Earlier in the week while we were at Kears I had Kory and Daryl pull our J&J back down because we’d found some things with our other car and I wanted to see if they would translate to the J&J”, explained Sam. “Unfortunately what we were doing on the other car didn’t translate over to the J&J and we couldn’t really get dialled in all night”.

The handling issues were not the only thing Sam was dealing with in the feature.

“A few laps into the feature the motor started acting funny”, recalled Sam. “We weren’t running very well so I pulled off to not hurt it too bad, I think we did drop a valve though”.

Sam was credited with a disappointing 23rd place finish.

That evening Sam, Kory and Daryl went to work not only changing motors but also switching cars. The team’s effort was rewarded the following day as Sam came out flying in his warm up session as he turned in the 2nd quick lap with a time of 12.551.

Time trials saw Sam lay down a lap of 12.673 which left Sam on the bubble for the heat race inversion with 7 cars remaining. Sam survived the first 6 cars but Joey Saldana knocked Sam out of the heat race inversion on the very last time trial run which meant that instead of starting on the pole for his heat that the Fusion Energy Boost #15H would grid in 5th.

Former Plumbfast Racing crew chief Sammy Swindell made a wild move to advance from 8th to 4th on the opening lap of the heat which dropped Sam to 6th. Hafertepe was able to close on Kraig Kinser and twice attempted slide jobs but was unsuccessful as he finished 6th.

Sam lined up for the A Main inside of row 7 and was able to work his way past Brian Ellenberger and Steve Kinser in the early laps before Kinser was eventually able to return the favour.

As the race wore on Sam settled into the 12th position chasing Terry McCarl. Sam had been working the bottom all the way around the track but 10 laps in Sam began to run the top in 1 and 2 and began to reel in the cars in front of him with Swindell in hot pursuit.

“I had been running the bottom but the guys in front of me started to get away”, explained the Sunnyvale, Texas racer. “I figured if I didn’t start trying to find somewhere else to run that we might start going backwards. Fortunately I found the top and we were able to get going pretty good”.

At the lap 21 mark Sam and Swindell were all over the tail tanks of Kraig Kinser, Terry McCarl and Jac Haudenschild. Sam tried to duck under Haudenschild and that allowed Swindell to get a run on him. There was contact between the 2 and Swindell got sideways but both drivers were able to gather up their cars and continue on.

The yellow flag flew on lap 26 for Joey Saldana and on the restart Sam was able to get past Jac Haudenschild and had a run on Kraig Kinser going into turn 3 for 9th. Unfortunately there was contact between the two which resulted in a left rear flat for Kinser and a right rear flat for Sam.

Miller and Turford went to work on replacing Sam’s tire with help from members of the TSR and Carnahan teams. They had to work fast as they would not receive the benefit of the 2 minute rule as the race was past halfway. The tire was replaced quickly and Sam was able to return to the field at the back of the lead lap cars.

Sam didn’t have many laps but he was able to get past Kinser and Chad Kemenah on the restart. Hafertepe then set his sights on Brian Ellenberger for 12th and was hounding him through the final laps but could never quite pull off the pass as he crossed the line in 13th.

“Kory and the guys did a great job getting the tire changed”, said Sam. “Sometimes you can get pretty down in those situations but the guys never gave up and as a result we were able to actually gain a few positions at the finish”.

The Plumbfast Racing Team is now headed back to Sunnyvale, Texas for the week as they prepare for two nights at Dodge City Raceway next weekend which will be televised on SpeedTV.

FUSION ENERGY BOOST FAST FACT-Fusion Energy Boost had been a great deal of help over the past few seasons but throughout everything Sam’s family has been behind him all of the way.

“My Mom and Dad are incredibly supportive”, explained Sam. “They don’t always get to come to all of the races but they get to as many as they can. It’s quite common for my mom and dad to make 20+ hour races and it really means a lot to me when they come watch and I always try to do my best for them”.

Every now and then Sam’s parents also like to surprise him.

“It was pretty funny at Eldora”, recalled Sam. It was Mother’s Day weekend and I’d taken the time to buy my Mom some flowers. I had arranged to have them sent to our house. I didn’t know they were planning to surprise me by showing up at Eldora and sure enough they did. So the flowers showed up in Dallas but my Mom was in Ohio, sometimes you just can’t win”.