Series Spencer spotlight - Sam Hafertepe Jr

Sam Hafertepe Jr. Geared Up for Return to Clay County Fair Speedway Spencer, IA-- September 9, 2008--While the final results from his first visit to Clay County Fair Speedway last season were not exactly what Sam Hafertepe Jr. was looking for...

Sam Hafertepe Jr. Geared Up for Return to Clay County Fair Speedway

Spencer, IA-- September 9, 2008--While the final results from his first visit to Clay County Fair Speedway last season were not exactly what Sam Hafertepe Jr. was looking for after finishing 17th, he took a liking to the track and has been counting down the days to the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series return to the Iowa track ever since his hauler left the pit area at the 3/8-mile a year ago.

Hafertepe will make his second start at Clay County Fair Speedway on Wednesday, September 10 as the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series begins a four-race swing through the Heartland, following a very demanding stretch on the West Coast that saw the series compete seven times in an eight-day period.

"It was a neat place when we went over there for the first time last year, said Hafertepe. "I am really looking forward to going back there, and we should have a pretty good car there. We have some good notes to look back on."

The event at Clay County Fair Speedway will be the series last stop in the state of Iowa this season. In three events in the Hawkeye State this year, there has been three different drivers visit the winner's circle. Hafertepe has three Top-10 finishes in the state of Iowa this season, including at the famed Knoxville Raceway earlier this season. He scored a fourth-place run at 34 Raceway in the spring in preparation for the World of Outlaws debut at the track in July. Hafertepe and his fellow drivers competed before the largest crowd in the history of Clay County Fair Speedway last season, with many of the people in attendance that night attending their first World of Outlaws race.

"It pumps a lot of people up that don't get see us all the time, especially in an area like that," Hafertepe noted of racing at a track once or twice a season. "A lot of new fans get to come out and become bigger fans then. It's a good deal for everybody."

The race at Clay County Fair Speedway will mark the 17th event on a 3/8-mile this season for the World of Outlaws. In those events, there have been nine drivers picks up victories. Hafertepe has picked up five Top-10 finishes on tracks that size this season, and enjoys racing on the smaller tracks, similar to the ones he cut his teeth on racing in Texas and its surrounding areas when he began his career.

"It really is the perfect size track," said the sophomore driver of Clay County Fair Speedway. "There is a lot of side by side racing on a 3/8-mile. You don't really get single file on them. They are not too small and not too big. It's about the perfect situation for a driver to race on tracks that size."

Last season at Clay County Fair Speedway there was just one caution on the 30-lap contest, and that came on the third lap, with the remainder of the race running non-stop, with lapped traffic playing a deciding factor in the outcome. The World of Outlaws are in the midst of a stretch that will see them compete a total of 16 consecutive times on tracks that are 3/8-mile or smaller, before returning to a half-mile on September 19.

"At most of our races, traffic comes into play and it definitely will at Clay County as well," explained the native of Sunnyvale, Texas. "It's part of the deal and something you have to set your car up for. It should make for a very good race for the fans."

Hafertepe and his team recently welcomed Fusion Energy Boost to their team as their primary sponsor through the end of the season. He debuted a new paint scheme on his No. 15H J&J, featuring the Fusion logo at the 55th Annual Gold Cup Race of Champions at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, California last weekend.

"It's always great to have someone like that come on board," Hafertepe said. "It has us pumped up and we are excited for the rest of the year. We are thrilled to be able to sport the Fusion Energy Boost name."

While he will be making his second start at Clay County Fair Speedway on September 10, there are still a number of tracks on the 2008 schedule that he will be making his debut at. The focused driver enjoys competing at tracks for the first time and is always ready for the challenges that are presented when the series visits a track for the first time.

"When we go to places for the first time, as long as everyone else is going there as well for the first time, that is good for us, because everyone is on a level playing field," he noted. "A lot of the time we guys who have raced at places several times and we have only raced at them a couple. It's all part of the deal and you just have to quickly adapt to a new place."

Hafertepe has been one of the fastest drivers in time trials this season. Even though he has not picked up a fast time honor yet, he has been in the Top-Five to earn qualifying bonus points a number of times. A strong time trial run has helped him put himself in a good position for the heat races.

"You just have go out there and put down the perfect lap," he deadpanned. "You can't take any chances on anything. You have to hang it out and see what kind of time you can get."

Hafertepe begins the four-race swing through the Heartland this weekend 12th in the World of Outlaws championship standings on the strength of 13 Top-10 finishes, with two those of those being Top-Five performances. He also has raced his way into the Crane Cams Dash 18 times to earn Top-10 starting spots in A-Feature events. With less than 20 total race dates left on the 2008 calendar, Hafertepe and his team have one main goal as they continue to close in on their first World of Outlaws win.

"We have to get more consistent," explained the 21-year old driver. "We have been struggling lately and we need to finish the year out strong. We need to run like we were at the beginning of the year, when we were running in the Top-10 almost every night. We have been learning so much this year. The past couple of weeks we have been off the wall with our set-up and the results have not shown what we are capable of. We just have to get back to basics and show that we have learned something this last year and a half."

On Wednesday, September 10 at Clay County Fair Speedway, adult general admission tickets will be $30, with tickets for children ages 12-under $15. Reserved tickets will be $35. Pit combos will also be available which include a reserved ticket and pit pass for $55. For tickets call 712-262-4740 ext. 771.

-credit: woo

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About this article
Series World of Outlaws
Drivers Sam Hafertepe Jr.