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Sam Hafertepe Jr. Struggles at US 36 & Knoxville


Sunnyvale, Texas-The past weekend was one of frustration for the Plumbfast Racing Team and Sam Hafertepe Jr. A terribly handling race car at US 36 Raceway resulted in a disappointing 22nd place finish and then a tired motor at Knoxville resulted in an 18th place finish.
In an effort to try to improve the team and dial in their J&J chassis a little better the team decided to head down to the shop of one of the greatest mechanics in sprint car history, Kenny Woodruff to prepare for the weekend events. The team spent the week at Kenny’s shop in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma preparing both the primary and back up cars in preparation for the race at US-36. Woodruff decided to help the team for the weekend and headed for the track with the team.
The new combination proved to be quick right out of the box as Sam emerged from warm-ups with the 4th fastest time on the tiny, high-banked speedway.
Sam was able to keep up the speed from warm-ups as he clocked in with a lap of 11.048 which was good enough for 7th quick and put him on the outside of the front row for his heat.
Sam and pole sitter Kraig Kinser led the field through turns 1 and 2 at the start of his heat race with Kraig getting the advantage. Hafertepe tried to drive under Kraig in turns 3 and 4 but lost momentum which allowed Jac Haudenschild to try a slide job on Sam in turns 1 and 2. There was nearly contact between the two drivers and Sam had to move above the cushion to keep off the R19. Sam lost the 3rd position to Jason Sides as he tried to gather the car back up. For the rest of the race Sam would hammer the top side of the speedway, he was unable to pressure Sides for 3rd but was never challenged.
Sam lined the Fusion Energy Boost #15H J&J 11th for the 40 lap main event but an opening lap tangle with Donny Schatz in turn 3 resulted in Sam spinning and restarting at the tail of the field.
It was clear that Sam was fighting an ill-handling race car as he spun again. During the yellow he headed to the pits where crew members Kory Miller and Daryl Turford worked at trying to fix the handling. Miller made a torsion bar adjustment and sent Sam back out.
On the restart Hafertepe was able to move forward a few spots but again on the next yellow headed pitside where the team changed a shock and sent him back out.
Sam was able to move forward steadily but was still fighting an ill-handling car. He had just passed Wayne Johnson and Tim Kaeding and was pressuring Gary Brazier when he spun out of turn 4. At that point Sam called it a night and headed to the pits and called it a night.
“That was one of the worst handling cars I’ve ever driven”, said Sam. “It seemed like no matter what we did we couldn’t fix it. We decided that night to bring our Maxim chassis down from upstairs and run it at Knoxville”.
The following night at Knoxville the team had the Maxim chassis down but they were racing with a tired motor.
In warm-ups the car was a little tight on corner entrance and was only 34th fastest. The team decided to change the left front torsion bar and the car handled flawlessly for the rest of the night.
Hafertepe laid down a lap of 15.230 in time trials which was good enough for 20th quick, just outside of the heat race inversion.
“The car was the best I’ve ever had here”, said Sam. “We were pretty down on power though and that cost us what could have been a great qualifying run”.
Sam lined up inside the 3rd row in his heat. He made a good start and on the 2nd lap was able to work his way into 4th. Hafertepe would hold the position and earn a direct transfer to the A Main.
Sam was able to gain a couple of positions in the early stages of the race after starting 19th. As the race wore on he chased Craig Dollansky. Together the pair past a few cars as Sam had a pretty uneventful race eventually crossing the line in 18th.
“I was actually fairly happy with the run”, said Sam. “This was the best car I’ve ever had here and I think once we get the Fisher motor back in this car the guys are going to have to contend with us once again”.
The team has once again headed to the Keizer Aluminum Wheels shop in Orange City, Iowa.
“We love heading to Orange City”, said Sam. “The Huisman’s know how to take care of us really well. It’s just unfortunate to see Wade hopping around on one leg these days because I was hoping to take him to school on the golf course at some point this week”.