Sam Hafertepe Jr.

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Hafertepe and Rudeen Racing Find Speed on West...
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3/15/2012

3/15/2012

Sam Hafertepe Jr


Hafertepe and Rudeen Racing Find Speed on West...

Sam Hafertepe Jr. and The Rudeen Racing Team were moderately successful competing with The World of Outlaws in Las Vegas and at Perris Auto Speedway this past week. A stuck throttle killed a strong race at Vegas while Sam was able to recover from a poor qualifying effort at Perris with a top 10 finish.

Sam’s first race of 2012 for The Rudeen Racing Team took place this past Thursday night in “Sin City”. Hafertepe drew a late number for qualifying and was able to nail down the 7th fastest time overall.

The 2007 Knoxville Nationals Rookie of the Year lined up outside of Sammy Swindell on the front row of his heat but the motor stumbled and wouldn’t take off on the initial green. Sam found himself 3rd behind Swindell and Saldana by the first corner. The trio pulled away from the pack and crossed the line in that order.

“Last year this motor took off incredibly well,” recalled Sam. “I was expecting the same thing here and I was kind of caught off guard on the start when it didn’t and unfortunately we lost the dash spot.”

The Rudeen Racing Team of Shane Anderson, Seth Belik, Doug Rutz, Donovan Ross and Daryl Turford set about preparing the #26 Maxim-Shaver for the feature event. The finishing touches were put on the car and it rolled out for the A Main in the 11th starting position.

During the early laps of the feature Sam worked his way into the 8th position. Hafertepe settled into a race pace on the heels of Steve Kinser and comfortably ahead of Craig Dollansky for much of the race until several late race cautions changed the complexion of the race.

“During the yellow I noticed that our throttle began to stick,” explained the Sunnyvale, Texas racer. “I knew that was going to hamper us pretty badly as it would make it hard to slow down the car enough in turns 3and 4 to hit the bottom but I was hoping as we’d get rolling we’d get strung out, get our momentum up and be okay.”

The re-start went far better than Sam could have hoped for and despite the sticking throttle he was able to use the top on the re-start to charge into the 5th position only to have it negated by a Kerry Madsen flip.

Following that yellow the race would take a turn for the worse as a series of crashes and blown tires would lead to a seemingly endless string of yellow flag periods. Sam tumbled through the field and eventually crossed the line in the 16th position.

“The throttle sticking just killed us,” said Sam. “I think we were going to run about 3rd or 4th but once those restarts started piling up we just didn’t have a chance. It’s unfortunate because these guys don’t get to race much so when they do I really want to reward them with a good run. Fortunately we know what the problem was and I’m sure we’ll be fast from here on out.”

Two nights later the team unloaded at Perris Auto Speedway for another date with The Outlaws. Sam was part of the first warm-up session and greasy track conditions and a second warm-up session created a guessing game for time trials.

“We ran the first session on a 95 and the second session on a 93,” explained Sam. “The 93 felt better so we decided to go with that for qualifying and it definitely wasn’t what I was looking for at all. We were just awful.”

Hafertepe timed in 19th overall and had to line up for his heat race outside of a qualifying position.

The 3 original attempts at a start all saw Sam work his way into the transfer position in the first two corners only to have the starts called back. The 4th start was Sam’s weakest however, he was able to make the pass for a transfer early in the race and settled in to cross the line in 6th and make his way to the A Main.

The Sunnyvale, Texas native lined up his Rudeen Racing Maxim in the 18th position and worked both the top and bottom sides of both ends of the speedway in an effort to move forward. The narrow surface was about as wide as it could be and passing was at a premium however, once Sam zeroed in on the top side of the track he back to make steady progress through the field. As the race settled in Sam found himself trying to track down Cody Darrah who was struggling with an ailing front wing.

The final restart of the night gave Sam another chance at Cody and he jumped at the opportunity and slid past the youngster in turn 3. Hafertepe then gunned down Jason Sides with an identical move to work into 10th. As the laps wound down Sam chased down Sammy Swindell and Chad Kemenah but ran out of laps and brought the familiar, blue #26 home in the 10th position.

“We really had a pretty decent car in the feature,” explained Sam. “We were actually planning on running the middle to the bottom and we just weren’t very good down there. I was pleasantly surprised when we moved up that the car was as good as it was up there. I just wish we wouldn’t have thrown a good starting position away in time trials because this car ended up being pretty fast.”

The Rudeen Team have since headed to California in preparation for a weekend of racing at Tulare with The Outlaws.

“I had one of my first really good Outlaw races at Tulare and I always look forward to getting back out there,” said Sam. “It’s a really exciting track for the fans and it really keeps you on your toes as a driver. Shane, Seth, Daryl and I are really working well together and if we stay fast like we have been it’s just a matter of time before we start capitalizing on some opportunities and really running up front. All the pieces are in place for us to have success.”

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