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Keeping Pace

Thu., June 4, 2009, 11:30 p.m.

Turning it around: Sam Hafertepe Jr. ready to visit Lawrenceburg Speedway

 (The Spokesman-Review)
(The Spokesman-Review)

Two more strong runs this past weekend in the World of Outlaws return to the Midwest have Sam Hafertepe excited to visit the reconfigured Lawrenceburg Speedway in Indiana on Friday, June 5 and Saturday, June 6 for two full nights of racing.

Courtesy: World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Media Relations

Lawrenceburg, IN—June 4, 2009—Everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong for Sam Hafertepe Jr. over the course of the first couple months of the 2009 season. After strong runs at a couple of the most famed tracks on the World of Outlaws circuit in the middle of May, the third-year driver looks to have changed his fortunes and found the spark that he and his team needed as they gear up for the heart of the season.

Two more strong runs this past weekend in the World of Outlaws return to the Midwest have Hafertepe excited to visit the reconfigured Lawrenceburg Speedway in Indiana on Friday, June 5 and Saturday, June 6 for two full nights of racing. It will be his debut at the track where the World of Outlaws have not competed there since 2006, a year before he took to the road with the series.

“Everyone out here is pretty equal to begin with as far as competitive-wise,” noted the 23-year old. “I have never been there, but with how well we have been running lately, I don’t’ see any form or shape of track that can get us off of our marks. I think we’ll be pretty strong when we get there.”

Hafertepe has finished seventh or better in three of the last four World of Outlaws events. After picking up a career best second-place finish at Virginia Motor Speedway on May 23, he followed that up by coming all the way from the 21st starting spot at Attica Raceway Park in Ohio to finish fifth last Friday night. He was seventh at I-96 Speedway in Michigan the next night. Both of those were career best finishes at the pair of tracks which he had just a handful of starts at.

“We’re really happy with how things are going,” said Hafertepe. “We’ve found out a few things about the car the last few weeks and we just keep clipping away. We’re getting stronger each night and making fine tune adjustments now. We hadn’t really run good at Attica in the past and ran good there and we had never really run good in Michigan (I-96 Speedway) and ran good there. We’ll just keep fine tuning on the car and it seems to keep getting better.”

The string of strong runs began for the native of Sunnyvale, Texas at Eldora Speedway on May 9 when he finished 11th aboard the Fusion Energy Boost J&J. The following weekend he was the only World of Outlaws driver to make the Crane Cams Dash at the legendary Williams Grove Speedway against the always tough Pennsylvania Posse. He ran in the Top-10 for most of the feature event and wound up finishing a very solid 12th.

“It’s definitely a confidence booster,” he said. “Williams Grove is the toughest place we go and to run that strong there was great. We feel real good for when we go back that we can be a contender for a win. There are a few things we caught on to the past few weeks that we hadn’t caught on to the last time we were there. I’m sure we’ll be a contender there.”

With the level of competition being at an all-time high this season with the World of Outlaws, Hafertepe could have easily let the bad luck early in the season takes its toll on him, but he stayed positive through it all and kept focusing on the next race, as the veteran drivers on the tour mention so often as being a key to being successful on the road.

“You just can’t down on yourself and it’s easy to do that,” explained the native of Sunnyvale, Texas. “The guys out here as so good. If you want to win, you’ll keep your spirits up and there is always another night. That’s the way I look at. There’s always another night if we do bad and you’ll have another night to get better.”

With the World of Outlaws schedule really beginning to pick up in the next few weeks, Hafertepe is thrilled to be running strong as he looks to build on the breakout season he had in 2008 which saw him finish in the Top-10 18 times. Following his debut at Lawrenceburg Speedway this weekend, he’ll visit a number of tracks where he ran strong last season.

“In past years, this hasn’t been our strong point of the season going into the summer,” he pointed out. “The summer is really where we have struggled and to be running this good going into the summer is really good for the team. We have a lot of confidence and are really fast right now and this is the prime time of the year to be good. We race so much these next two months that if there is a time to be good this is it.”

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Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.