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Hafertepe Jr. Caps 3 Race Week With IRA Win...

7/27/2009

[b Hafertepe Jr. Caps 3 Race Week With IRA Win At Eagle Valley]

[i Daryl Turford]

Sunnyvale, Texas-Following a fantastic run at the Kings Royal Sam Hafertepe Jr and the Plumbfast Racing Team looked to build on the momentum with a 3 race week. Disappointment at the Don Martin Memorial was followed up with more disappointment at Attica Raceway Park before the team capped the weekend off with dominating IRA feature race win at Eagle Valley Raceway in Wisconsin.
At Lernerville on Wednesday night Sam and the Plumbfast Racing #15H Maxim Fisher clearly had not lost any speed from Eldora as they were the fastest car in the first warm-up session with a lap of 13.571. Unfortunately disaster struck when it was discovered that Sam had broken a U-joint in the session. The team was unable to change the U-joint in time and as a result was forced to start dead last in every race they entered.
“We had a bolt break in the U-joint”, said Sam. “I’ve never seen anything like it before. It’s nothing the guys could have detected and it sure put us behind the 8-ball for the rest of the night”.
Sam lined up 11th for his heat with heavy hitters such as Joey Saldana, Craig Dollansky and Daryn Pittman also starting outside of a transfer position. At the drop of the green flag Sam went to the bottom of the track and blasted his way through the field. On the exit of turn 4 on the opening lap he brushed the wall lightly but continued his charge forward. Exiting turn 2 he worked his way into a transfer spot in a brilliant display that saw him pass 6 cars in 5 laps.
Unfortunately for Sam the light contact with the wall would be his undoing. The right rear tire on the car went flat and Hafertepe began trying to nurse the car home. Finally, while exiting turn 4 Sam lost control of the car and spun to a stop. Hafertepe would restart at the back of the field but was only able to work past a couple of cars so rather than risk his equipment he headed to the pits.
Sam started the C Main at the back of the pack and at the drop of the green went forward. Hafertepe took the lead early in the race and cruised to an easy victory and a spot in the Last Chance Showdown.
Hafertepe once again lined up dead last in the Last Chance Showdown. On the opening lap he was able to weave his way through several cars as he marched forward. It soon became clear that despite being fast Hafertepe would not be able to transfer to the A Features. Following a couple of close calls Sam once again took the car to the pits and called it a night.
Following the disappointment of Lernerville the Plumbfast Racing Team headed to Kear’s Speed Shop in Tiffin, Ohio to prepare for their first race off the World of Outlaws tour at Attica Raceway Park.
Sam drew the 5th starting position for his heat race and quickly worked the bottom side of the track past race leader Greg Wilson on lap 3 and drove away to a convincing win.
The team had high hopes heading into the feature as Sam drew a good starting spot when he pulled the number 4.
As the early laps unfolded it was clear that it would be a 3 car battle between front row starters Craig Mintz, Brandon Wimmer and Sam. Unfortunately the #15H wasn’t handling as well as Sam would have liked and making forward progress was difficult on the tricky surface. Hafertepe worked the bottom of the speedway for all it was worth in an effort to track down the front two while they worked the top. The trio entered traffic and just as the race was about to get very interesting a yellow flag was brought out setting up a 10 lap shoot-out.
On the restart Sam used the middle of turns 1 and 2 to work his way past Wimmer. For the next 3 laps the pair battled for the 2nd position before they made contact exiting turn 2. Sam nearly flipped and went off the backstretch but gathered the car back in 5th. He spent the final laps trying to run down the top 4 but ran out of time and had to settle for the final top 5 position.
“To be honest we didn’t have the best car tonight”, explained Sam. “In open track Mintz and Wimmer were quicker. I could get them on restarts and I think if we’d have had a couple more I might have been able to pull something off but in open track those two were better. They were better on their setups for the feature and you’ve got to give them a lot of credit for that”.
The team planned on running Terre Haute with the All Star Circuit of Champions on Saturday night but that race rained out. Freemont also rained out along with KC so the team made the decision to tow down to Wisconsin for a Sunday night show at Eagle Valley Raceway.
Sam got off to a brilliant start as he set a new track record in qualifying with a blistering fast lap of 12.351. The time trial effort meant that Sam would have to start 6th in his heat and run in the top 5 to transfer to the A Main.
The heat race started off well enough as Sam moved from 6th to 3rd early. He soon began pressuring John Haeni for 2nd. The track had a cushion around the top but was slick all of the way up to it which made it very difficult to pass. Sam tried the bottom in turns 1 and 2 with 2 laps remaining but looped the car. He kept going in 4th but under IRA rules he had to restart at the tail. Sam had 2 laps to work his way back into a transfer spot but was up to the task as he worked his way back to a 5th place finish.
Under IRA rules the best the quickest car in qualifying can start the feature is 4th. Fortunately Sam pulled that pill and lined up for the feature race on the outside of row 2.
The early part of the feature was a duel between former WoO traveller Travis Whitney and Sam. Together along with Billy Balog the trio separated themselves from the field as Sam put constant pressure on Whitney. Whitney was able to lead until lap 12 but Sam slipped under him in lapped traffic to take the lead. 1 lap later Sam nearly made contact with a spinning lapped car but was able to slip by underneath without contact.
From there on out it was smooth sailing for Sam as he drove to a straightaway lead over Whitney. A caution flew with 2 laps to go setting up a green-white-checker finish but Sam had several lapped cars between himself and Whitney. Hafertepe pulled away in dominating fashion over the final 2 laps and won his first feature race of 2009.
“This car was absolutely awesome all night”, said the happy winner. “Kory (Miller) and Daryl (Turford) had everything right on the car, we made the right calls and this car was just awesome to drive. I was trying to be really patient when I was behind Whitney, he did a nice job and really didn’t make too many mistakes but I saw an opening in traffic and when you’ve been fortunate enough to have the experience I have in traffic you’re able to take advantage of those openings. Hopefully we can build on this and win a few more races this year”.
The Plumbfast Racing Team has once again headed back to Orange City, Iowa and the home base of Keizer Wheels. The team is preparing for a hectic week as they will take part in the Thunder Through The Plains Tour with the All Star Circuit of Champions starting on Wednesday night at US 36 Raceway in Cameron, MO.
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