Series Jamaica VMS spotlight - Sam Hafertepe Jr

Sam Hafertepe Jr. Earns Career Best Third Place Finish at Virginia Motor Speedway Jamaica, VA-- May 25, 2008--Sam Hafertepe Jr. continues to learn each and every time he straps into the cockpit for an Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws...

Sam Hafertepe Jr. Earns Career Best Third Place Finish at Virginia Motor Speedway

Jamaica, VA-- May 25, 2008--Sam Hafertepe Jr. continues to learn each and every time he straps into the cockpit for an Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series event. After all, he is in just his second full season behind the wheel of a 410-sprint car. He gains priceless experience every night as he competes against the best sprint car drivers in the world, many of whom have been competing longer than he has been alive, which in turn bolsters his confidence and sharpens his skills.

Hafertepe earned a career-best third-place finish on Saturday night at Virginia Motor Speedway, as the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series made their debut at the high-banked half-mile and also their inaugural trip to the state of Virginia.

The 22-year old who hails from Sunnyvale, Texas, began the night by turning the 12th quickest lap in time trials aboard the G.H. Plumbing J&J, which put him on the pole of the third heat race. He would finish second in the heat to earn a spot in the Crane Cams Dash, where he would finish third to earn a second row starting position for the 30-lap A-Feature.

"We had a really good car tonight," said Hafertepe after the race. "We had a new crew member tonight in Sean McClelland. I had my crew guy quit last night and we have Sean on hand. I don't know if that's the reason we ran good, but I have to thank him for coming out and helping us out."

Hafertepe, who started third on Saturday night in the 30-lap A-Feature, fell back to fourth early in the race and began what would turn into an epic battle with veteran Joey Saldana for the final podium position. The pair traded the third spot six times over the first half of the 30-lap contest, with Hafertepe taking it for the final time on the 15th. He then began to set his sights on Daryn Pittman, who was running second and moved alongside of him a couple of times during the last 10 laps of the race, but could not quite make the pass.

At one point, Hafertepe and Pittman were side-by-side, just inches behind eventual race winner Jason Meyers, who was mired in heavy lapped traffic.

"I think we were getting through lapped traffic a little bit better," Hafertepe noted. "I think they may have had a little bit better cars, but lapped traffic was holding them up. I got the right breaks in traffic. If I would have had 10 more laps, no telling, we might have been the one in Victory Lane."

Hafertepe entered the event on Saturday night with one career start at the half-mile, with the American Sprint Car Series (ASCS) in 2006, an event he finished 13th in. He was one of just three World of Outlaws drivers that had ever seen Virginia Motor Speedway prior to Saturday, which received rave reviews from all of the drivers after the event, as being one of the finest facilities the series visits all season.

"I don't really thing it helped that much," explained the sophomore driver of his previous start at the track. "I knew what I was getting into, but that was with a 360 (sprint car). There are very few comparisons between the two. We just went off of what we thought would work tonight and apparently we did it pretty good."

Hafertepe has gained plenty of momentum during the first East Coast swing of the season, wracking up three Top-10 finishes in four starts. He was ninth at Lernerville Speedway in Pennsylvania on May 13 and was 10th on Friday night in the Rite Aid Outlaw Showdown at The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway. He has climbed to the 13th spot in championship points, and is just 41 markers out of the Top-10.

"The confidence level is pretty high right now," he said after finishing third on Saturday night. "We're coming off a pretty good jaunt of runs here lately. At Lernerville we ran strong and were in the Top-10 the other night at Lowe's. We kind of battled that one out to finish. To run third tonight is great and hopefully we can get a win at Rolling Wheels."

Hafertepe will return to action on Monday, May 26 as the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series make their traditional Memorial Day stop at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park in Elbridge, New York. Hafertepe made his first start at the sprawling 5/8-mile last season.

-credit: woo

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About this article
Series World of Outlaws
Drivers Daryn Pittman , Jason Meyers , Joey Saldana , Sam Hafertepe Jr. , Sean McClelland