Sophomore Surge: Sam Hafertepe Jr. Continues Strong Second Season With World of Outlaws Dodge City, KS-- June 19, 2008-- Many drivers endure a "sophomore slump" during their second season with a series, but that has not been the case for Sam...
Sophomore Surge: Sam Hafertepe Jr. Continues Strong Second Season With World of Outlaws
Dodge City, KS-- June 19, 2008-- Many drivers endure a "sophomore slump" during their second season with a series, but that has not been the case for Sam Hafertepe Jr. in 2008. In fact, it's just the opposite, as he was victorious in his first 410-sprint car start of the season back in February in Florida, which was his first career triumph in a 410-machine. He carried that momentum into Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series action where he has had a very strong start to the season.
The native of Sunnyvale, Texas looks to keep this momentum going this week as he returns to Dodge City Raceway Park in Kansas, a track he knows very well for the Boot Hill Showdown, on Friday, June 20 and Saturday, June 21, with both nights of action being taped by SPEED for future broadcast.
Hafertepe has made a handful of starts at the state-of-the-art 3/8-mile mile over the last couple of years, racking up three Top-10 finishes in 2006 in a 360-sprint car at the track, including two fourth-place efforts. He ran a very strong 12th last season in the opener of the Boot Hill Showdown, which was his first start with the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series at the track.
"We've always run pretty good there," said Hafertepe, who drives the G.H. Plumbing J&J. "I enjoy going there to race. It's a beautiful facility and one of the closest places we'll get to home all year as well. They also have some great fans in Dodge City."
With blazing hot temperatures usually the norm at Dodge City Raceway Park along with the blazing fast speeds on the pristine 3/8-mile, Hafertepe is ready for the heat of the summer as the World of Outlaws schedule picks up steam the next few weeks. He has finished 12th or better in six of the last seven series events, while picking up three Top-10 finishes in the process.
"The heat effects how the motor runs," he noted. "Usually it doesn't run as well when it's really warm. The heat really doesn't effect the set-up of the car any, just the engine some. The heat doesn't bother me. Its summer and we expect it to be hot. The main thing is to make sure you keep fluids going through you."
Earlier in the season while Mother Nature was wreaking havoc on the World of Outlaws schedule, Hafertepe and his team traveled far and wide to find races to compete in, to stay sharp. Among this list was a fourth-place performance at 34 Raceway in Iowa where the World of Outlaws will make their inaugural visit later this season. He also made a start in weekly action at Huset's Speedway in South Dakota where he set fast time, before being sidelined in the man event due to an engine problem. That trip paid off as he was second fastest in time trials at Huset's last weekend and finished just one spot out of the Top-10 in the A-Feature.
"It helped a ton running while some of the other guys were sitting at home," explained the 2006 American Sprint Car Series Sooner Region champion. "For me being in my second year, I still need to get as many laps as I can on different tracks. I enjoy racing whenever and wherever I can."
Hafertepe, who is currently the youngest driver on tour with the World of Outlaws at the age of 22, is less than 100 points out of the Top-10 in the championship standings, as he begins this weekend in the 12th position and continues to close in on veteran Daryn Pittman. He has racked up six Top-10 finishes in 2008 with the World of Outlaws, including a career-best third-place performance on May 24 at Virginia Motor Speedway.
"We have had a very good start to the season," Hafertepe said with a smile. "We are not a power team or high dollar team by any means. This is all a family deal and we do everything in house. That makes it that much more meaningful to be closing in on the Top-10 in points. This is a Top-10 team in my eyes and we'll keep working hard to get there."
Hafertepe has earned a spot in the Crane Cams Dash seven times this season, including in five consecutive events, which has earned him Top-10 starting spots in the A-Feature. He also has been among the Top-10 in time trials in four consecutive events, including being second quick at Huset's Speedway last Friday night in addition to being second fastest at Tri-City Speedway on June 8. It is vitally important to earn a good starting spot in a heat race, where finishing first or second earns a driver a spot in the Crane Cams Dash. Drivers also can earn a spot in the Dash by being one of the fastest two cars from time trials that transfer from their heat race into the A-Feature, but did not finish first or second in a normal four heat program or being one of the four fastest in a three heat program.
"We have made it into the (Crane Cams) Dash in the last five races, and that is what you need to do to give yourself a chance to run up front and ultimately win one of these things," he said. "We have been qualifying well and running strong in the heat races as well, so we are pleased with how things are working out so far this year."
Hafertepe continues to gain valuable experience as he returns to tracks this season that he saw for the first time in his career last year. During his rookie season with the World of Outlaws, he had three Top-10 finishes, which he has already doubled in less than a third of the 2008 campaign.
"It's a big help going back to track again this year," he commented. "The more laps I can get, the more confidence I build and the more we learn. That's the main thing is just turning more and more laps."
While Dodge City Raceway Park is nearly 500 miles from Sunnyvale, Texas, Hafertepe considers the Boot Hill Showdown a home race, as it will be one of the closest races to Texas this season. It provides his team a chance to work out of their own shop for a few days and also get to sleep in their owns beds for a couple of nights.
"We'll get home for a few days to regroup and reorganize," said Hafertepe. "Being from Texas we don't get to stop at home very much and this will be one of the few times. It will be nice to catch up on things and get ready for the heart of the season."
On Friday, June 20 at Dodge City Raceway Park all tickets will be general admission and will be $35. Two-day tickets are available for $60 online in advance, which is a savings of $10. Single day tickets go on sale on Friday, June 20.
On Saturday, June 21 at Dodge City Raceway Park all tickets will be general admission and will $35. For tickets visit: www.dodgecityraceway.com/tickets.html or call (620)-225-3277.