Carl Edwards Drops in, but Smilin' Sam Is the ASCS Sooner Man at Cowtown Lonnie Wheatley, KENNEDALE, Tex. (April 8, 2006) -- While NASCAR Nextel Cup star Carl Edwards dropped in for Saturday night's season opening American Bank of Oklahoma ...
Carl Edwards Drops in, but Smilin' Sam Is the ASCS Sooner Man at Cowtown
Lonnie Wheatley, KENNEDALE, Tex. (April 8, 2006) -- While NASCAR Nextel Cup star Carl Edwards dropped in for Saturday night's season opening American Bank of Oklahoma American Sprint Car Series Sooner Region event at Cowtown Speedway, it was 20-year-old Sunnyvale, TX, hotshoe Sam Hafertepe, Jr., stealing top billing by roaring to victory lane in the 30-lap feature event.
Hafertepe outdueled Kevin Ramey over the opening pair of rounds then broke away to a convincing half-lap lead when Ramey suffered driveline woes with just five laps remaining.
In his ASCS debut, Edwards raced from 17th to tenth in the feature event after battling past Brian McClelland on the tenth round en route to winning the 15-lap "B" Main.
Prior to the feature event, Hafertepe commented that, "We've hit on a really good setup for this car the last couple of weeks. My crew keeps saying that they think my right foot is getting bigger, but I'm not so sure about that."
He may want to reconsider his crew's opinion.
The night got off to an inauspicious start for Hafertepe, as a spinning car on the opening lap of his heat race tagged him on the right rear, popping the tire in the process. But after a quick tire change, Hafertepe rejoined his heat race field at the tail and needed just four laps to blast through the pack and into the lead, earning the pole starting position for the feature in the process.
Originally slated to start third row inside, Ramey moved up to Hafertepe's rear nerf bar after second row inside starter Claud Estes suffered a broken front end and looped his mount in turn three on the initial start.
As the green flag flew again, Ramey wasted little time taking to the high side and charged past Hafertepe in the opening two corners. Hafertepe battled right back however and regained the point a lap later.
Racing through lapped traffic by the eighth round, Hafertepe held a slight advantage over Ramey much of the way, surviving a pair of mid-race cautions aboard the Wells-powered G-H Plumbing/Smiley's No. 15 Maxim.
But when the race's final caution flew on the 25th lap, it was for Ramey who lost power exiting turn two due to driveline failure.
With three lapped cars separating Hafertepe from the battling duo of Johnny Miller and Brad Welborn on the final restart, Hafertepe checked out and amassed nearly a half lap advantage before flashing underneath the checkered flag for his fourth overall career ASCS feature victory and first in ASCS Sooner Region competition.
Miller fought off Welborn for the runner-up slot, with George White taking fourth. After spinning off the turn two banking on the 16th round, Russ Fletcher fought his way back up to fifth only to fail to report directly to the scales, resulting in a disqualification.
Seventeen-year-old Dex Eaton, who ran amongst the top five much of the way, took full advantage of Fletcher's disqualification to round out the top five, with defending ASCS Sooner Region champion Sean McClelland racing from 13th to snare sixth. Andy Shouse, the 2004 Sooner Region co-champion, charged from 14th to seventh, with Gavin Punch, Justin Melton and Edwards completing the top ten.
Heat race victories for the 32-car field were claimed by Ramey, Miller, Hafertepe and Michael Brown, with Edwards topping the 15-lap "B" Main.
American Bank of Oklahoma ASCS Sooner Region Results:
First Heat (10 Laps): 1. 7m-Kevin Ramey, 2. 1s-George White, 3. 7s-Edd French, 4. 99-Justin Melton, 5. 85s-Forrest Sutherland, 6. L23-Landon Brown. DNS: 65-Skip Wilson, 10w-Cody Wampler.
Second Heat (10 Laps): 1. 64J-Johnny Miller, 2. 17w-Brad Welborn, 3. 79-Ryan Hall, 4. 27-Andy Shouse, 5. 4T6-Russ Fletcher, 6. 7y-Darrell Fletcher, 7. 14b-Robert Byrom, 8. 23-Jimmy Taylor.
Third Heat (10 Laps): 1. 15-Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 2. 59-Dex Eaton, 3. 81au-Gavin Punch, 4. 10-Brian McClelland, 5. b4-Eric Baldaccini, 6. 35-Brad Best, 7. 77-Craig Huls, 8. 4am-Travis Jenkins.
Fourth Heat (10 Laps): 1. 15x-Michael Brown, 2. 74-Claud Estes, 3. 1-Sean McClelland, 4. 45-J.P. Bailey, 5. 6-Carl Edwards, 6. 6d-Jeff Day, 7. 76-John Ricketts, 8. 25-Derek Cottrell.
"B" Feature (15 Laps): 1. 6-Carl Edwards, 2. 6d-Jeff Day, 3. 10-Brian McClelland, 4. 35-Brad Best, 5. 7y-Darrell Fletcher, 6. 85s-Forrest Sutherland, 7. 10w-Cody Wampler, 8. b4-Eric Baldaccini, 9. 25-Derek Cottrell, 10. 4am-Travis Jenkins, 11. 23-Jimmy Taylor, 12. 14b-Robert Byrom, 13. 77-Craig Huls, 14. 76-John Ricketts, 15. L23-Landon Brown. DNS: 65-Skip Wilson.
"A" Feature (30 Laps): 1. 15-Sam Hafertepe, Jr., 2. 64J-Johnny Miller, 3. 17w-Brad Welborn, 4. 1s-George White, 5. 59-Dex Eaton, 6. 1-Sean McClelland, 7. 27-Andy Shouse, 8. 81au-Gavin Punch, 9. 99-Justin Melton, 10. 6-Carl Edwards, 11. 10-Brian McClelland, 12. 35-Brad Best, 13. 15x-Michael Brown, 14. 6d-Jeff Day, 15. 7m-Kevin Ramey, 16. 7s-Edd French, 17. 79-Ryan Hall, 18. 45-J.P. Bailey, 19. 74-Claud Estes, 20. 4T6-Russ Fletcher.
American Bank of Oklahoma ASCS Sooner Region Points (Top Ten): 1. Sam Hafertepe, Jr. 150,2. Johnny Miller 146, 3. Brad Welborn 144, 4. George White 142, 5. Dex Eaton 140, 6. Sean McClelland 138, 7. Andy Shouse 136, 8. Gavin Punch 134, 9. Justin Melton 132, 10. Carl Edwards 130.