KNOXVILLE, IA (August 5, 2021): Sam Hafertepe, Jr. captured the first night of the 360 Sprint Car Nationals at Knoxville Raceway, besting a field of 43 racers assembled from around the country and from Australia. It was his first career win at the famed oval for the driver from Sunnyvale, TX, and it should put him near the front of the A Main on Saturday night.
After being reminded by one of his crew that many of the races at Knoxville are won from the middle of the track, Hafertepe made it a point to try that groove which had been neglected for most of the night. “I knew we were good, I tried the middle and I said ‘oh, my,’ and I thought that we would win the race.”
Hafertepe did not just win the race, he dominated it. He gave props to his engine builder, Charlie Fisher. “We had to figure out how to get the power to the ground,” Hafertepe said. “It was awesome.”
While he had no threats this night, Hafertepe has had his share of disappointments in past outings at Knoxville. “We don’t race here enough, we’re playing catch-up here every year.” For now, at least, it appears as though it will be the other racers struggling to catch up to him.
Garrett Williamson and Matt Juhl brought the field to the green flag for the start of the twenty lapper. Lynton Jeffrey and current ASCS National Tour points leader Blake Hahn were in row two. Jamie Ball lined up inside of Hafertepe in the third row, with Justin Henderson and Shane Golobic behind them as the last of the inverted cars. Cory Eilason and Brady Bacon were in the fifth row, with Roger Crokett and Matt Moro setting the median for the starting grid.
While Juhl fired frst off turn four, it was Williamson who rolled the inside line in turns one and two to take command on the opening lap. His lead was brief, though, as Juhl came storming back around him to lead lap two. By then, Hafertepe was already up to third, ahead of Jeffrey, Hahn, and Golobic.
Hafertepe used that middle groove to take second on lap three and he had some distance to make up on the leader. It took him a couple of laps to reel in Juhl and they raced side by side for one round before Hafertepe drove by using the middle groove.
Hafertepe began to pull away from Juhl, who continued to pound the cushion. They established comfortable margins while Jeffrey motored along in third.
Juhl’s promising performance came to an end with sixteen laps completed. He got into turn one too hot and a lapped car was in his favored top groove. He had to check up and his car got crosswise in the middle of the corner. Juhl saved the car but he lost several positions.
That moved Jeffrey into second, a good ways behind Hafertepe. In the final laps, however, Golobic was on the charge and he overtook Jeffrey. The pass was not entirely clean and the Australian pilot was quite miffed by the contact.
“It’s a good car,” he said, “I’m disappointed, I think we were a second place car.”
For his part, Golobic was pleased by the outcome and he was not apologetic about how he got to the second spot. “It’s all about getting ourselves situated for Saturday night, and we did that,” he added confidently.
Hafertepe completed the twenty laps in just just under six minutes. The race time was five minutes and 52.214 seconds, to be exact. Golobic was 1.355 seconds behind. Jeffrey was third, ahead of Williamson and Juhl. Hahn, Bacon, Ball, Eliason, and Henderson completed the top ten.
Five heats were spun off very quickly, with the wins going to Brian Brown, Josh Baughman, Ryan Giles, Ryan Leavitt, and Jack Dover. Sammy Swindell took the B Main victory. Golobic turned in the fastest lap in qualifications, with a time of 15.802 seconds.
Finish: Sam Hafertepe, Jr., Shane Golobic, Lynton Jeffrey, Garrett Williamson, Matt Juhl, Blake Hahn, Brady Bacon, Jamie Ball, Cory Eliason, Justin Henderson, Jack Dover, Roger Crockett, Brian Brown, J.J. Hickle, Derek Hagar, Matt Moro, Austin McCarl, Kaleb Johnson, Ryan Giles, Sammy Swindell, Josh Baughman, Calvin Landis, Ryan Leavitt, Kyle Reinhardt.
DNQ: Michael Faccinto, Nathan Mills, Cody Ledger, Riley Goodno, Joe Beaver, Ricky Montgomery, Chase Porter, Christopher Thram, Casey Friedrichsen, Kade Morton, Chase Dunham, Devon Dobie; Elliot Amdahl, Alan Zoutte, Lorne Wofford, Slater Helt, Rob Kubli, Tasker Phillips, Kelby Watt.
Marks Takes Third Win of Speedweek
HAGERSTOWN, MD (June 30, 2022): Brent Marks was the first driver to gather three checkered flags during the Pennsylvania Speedweek. He chased down leader Kyle Larson during the long green flag run that lasted until lap twenty-eight of the thirty scheduled laps. The win fortifioed his points lead over Anthony Macri and Justin Peck, both of whom finished in the top ten.
“I never expected the track to get like that,” Marks said. “I thought that it (the moisture applied just before feature time) would last about ten laps and that everybody would go to the bottom. But it stayed good up top.” Indeed, the groove that Marks and Larson preferred was way up top, just inches from the fences at both ends of the speedway.
Marks explained how he was able to pass Larson for the lead. “Kyle threw a slider (on the lapped car of Freddie Rahmer, Jr.) and scrubbed a lot of speed off and I could stay up top and I could get a run on him into (turn) one.” Marks used a slider of his own to get past Larson and then he proceeded to pull away.
Larson got another shot at Marks after the lap twenty-eight caution, but Marks was in full defensive mode. “I was just trying to block him the last two laps,” Marks admitted candidly. “I could hear him but I didn’t know where he was. I couldn’t go to the top on the restart, I had to build my momentum to get up there,” he explained.
Larson felt that he was a little short. “Brent was really good, for sure. I couldn’t clear Rahmer and I knew that a run was coming,” Larson noted. As for the restart, Larson said that he was running the middle and that Marks “closed it off.”
Larson teased Marks by suggesting that he should go on the road more often and “beat up on guys like Gravel, and Sweet, and Macedo, so I can get a few more wins when I come here.” Larson added that he plans to be back in Pennsylvania in a couple of weeks, presumably for the World of Outlaws appearances at Port Royal Speedway and Williams Grove Speedway.
Macri, who was the hard charger and third place finisher, noted that his car was not good at the beginning of the night and that “it took a while for us to get the car better.” When asked if he thought that he couple capitalize on the restart, he thought that he could maybe get by Larson, but then he realized that his tires got too cold and they sealed over under the caution. “So, I got defensive and went for the points.”
Tanner Thorson and Larson brought the field to the green flag. Marks and Rico Abreu were in the second row. Devon Borden had his best starting spot of the week, fifth, with Peck beside him. Ryan Smith and Dylan Cisney had the final pill draw positions. Then came Rahmer and R.J. Stutts. Row six belonged to Danny Dietrich and Sye Lynch.
Although Thorson reached turn one first, he was never scored as the leader of the eveny. Larson rode the rim to take the lead comining off turn two and Marks followed him into second. Smith also got by the defending Chili Bowl champion on the opening lap. Abreu and Dietrich followed him.
During the long green flag run, Larson and Marks disappeared from the other racers. Smith and Thorson battled with Abreu for third, with each of them holding it at various times.
Macri was on the march. He advanced from thirteenth on the grid to the top ten within the first five laps. By lap fifteen, he was into the top five. He was running third at lap twenty-five, but he was very far behind the leaders.
Larson and Marks had lapped all the way up to the eighth position by the time that the caution came out. Rahmer, who was solidly in the top ten, was one of the lapped cars and he broke Larson’s momentum, enabling Marks to make the pass for the lead with twenty-two laps in the books.
When the green flag waived for the final two-lap dash, Marks got awya cleanly and Larson stayed close, hoping for a mistake. Macri did take a peek inside of Larson coming off turn four, but he spun the tires and Larson got away.
At the finish, it was Marks, Larson, Macri, Dietrich, and Smith. Abreu got shuffled back to sixth. Borden, Lucas Wolfe, Chase Dietz, and Rahmer completed the top ten.
Thirty-six Sprints registered for the race. The four heats went to Thorson, Larson, Abreu, and Borden. The B Main winner was Ryan Timms. The evening’s fastest qualifier was Smith, who turned a lap of 15.824 seconds.
Marks leads Macri by 62 points and Peck by 130 heading into the Mitch Smith Memorial at WIlliams Grove Speedway. Wolfe and Stutts are fourth and fifth. Dietrich is sixth, followed by Freddie Rahmer, Jr., Dietz, Larson, and Ryan Smith.
Marks Makes it Two at Port Royal Speedway
PORT ROYAL, PA (June 29, 2022): Brent Marks became the second driver to double up during Pennsylvania Speedweek, winning the first of two events to be hosted at the Port Royal Speedway. In the process, Marks moved into the points lead for the mini series.
Also scoring at Port Royal was Mark Smith in the United Racing Club 360 Sprint feature.
“I got lucky,” Marks said. “I ran out of fuel just as I crossed the line.” Marks also had some good fortune during the race. “I was happy with the yellows becasue I didn’t have to race the lapped cars. The yellows fell my way for a change.” The night before, at Grandview Speedway, he made a move on the leader but a caution nullified his passing attempt.
The front row paired Anthony Macri with Marks. The second row belonged to the Wagner family, with dad, Mike, inside son, Logan. The third row had Kyle Larson matched with Dylan Cisney. Christopher Bell and Lance Dewease were in brown four. The fifth row had Justin Peck and Ryan Timms, who was making his first Speedweek start. Blane Heimbach and Rico Abreu were in row six.
Marks won the race to the first turn, Macri was second, pinned to the inside by his rival, Logan Wagner. Cisney, Larson, Mike Wagner, and Peck followed.
Logan Wagner made the move into second on lap three and he took off after Marks. Macri, Cisney, Larson, and Mike Wagner led Peck and Dewease in the early going.
A caution on lap seven bunched the field and Larson was able to gain a couple of spots on the restart. He closed in on Logan Wagner in a couple of laps and made his move into second on lap nineteen. Macri also passed Logan Wagner that lap.
Fans were expecting a three car battle, as Larson and Macri tightened things up. However, Macri detonated his motor on lap twenty-one and Justin Whittal spun in the oil dropped in turn four.
While the field was circulating under the yellow, Larson’s right rear tire started to lose air. He restarted the race and fought with Logan Wagner for second for a lap or so. Wagner gained the position and Larson began to fade. His tire let go just as Marks crossed for lap twenty-five.
Marks had the point for the five-lap dash to the finish. Logan Wagner led Mike Wagner, Dewease, Cisney, Peck, and Lucas Wolfe to the green flag.
Marks opened up a significant advantage over Logan Wagner, who was struggling now. Mike Wagner shot by in the middle groove to take second with a pair of laps remaining.
Marks took the checkers ahead of the Wagners–Mike then Logan–Dewease, and Peck. Cisney, Wolfe, and T.J. Stutts were the next three finishers. Abreu and Freddie Rahmer completed the top ten. Stutts was awarded the hard charger bonus, advancing fifteen positions in the race.
The four heat winners were Mike Wagner, Marks, Larson, and Macri. Larson and Macri were the first drivers this week to knock-out a driver from the re-draw. They started fourth to get their wins and consequently they split the $500 bonus provided by Lelands.com. Whittal prevailed in the B Main. Logan Wagner set the fast time of the night. He was the only driver to turn in a time less than sixteen seconds, 15.954 to be exact. Larson was the best of Group B, with a time of 16.260.
Marks moved ahead of Macri in the Speedweek rankings, 748 to 693. Peck remained in third. Wolfe and Stutts complete the top five. Freddie Rahmer, Jr. holds down sixth, ahead of Danny Dietrich and Jeff Halligan. Lance Dewease returned to the top ten despite skipping one round. Chase Dietz is tenth heading to Hagerstown Speedway.
In the companion URC 360 Sprint feature, Josh Weller followed Frankie Herr for a lap before assuming command. Mark Smith used a couple of restarts to improve his track position. Indeed, following a lap six restart he executed a slider in turn three to take the lead from Weller.
Weller had a number of shots at Smith on the double file restarts that followed, but Smith was able to maintain his advantage each time.
Weller’s strong run ended on lap 24 when his left rear tire went flat. However, track officials displayed the caution and then the checkers as the midnight curfew was reached. Weller was credited with second.
Jason Schultz, the URC points leader, was scored third, ahead of Derek Locke and Dallas Schott. Herr, Mike Thompson, Mike Kiser, Devin Adams, and Cody Fletcher rounded out the top ten.
Nash Ely was unhurt in a spectacular crash atthe entry to turn one during the URC feature.
The three heat winners were Schott, Mark Smith, and Kiser. There was no B Main.
Anthony Macri blew the engine in the Sean Michael prepared 360 in his heat race.
Port Royal Speedway will be back in action Saturday for the ninth round of Speedweek. It will be the Greg Hodnett Classic paying $10,000. The Super Late Models will provide the support. July 9 will be a 410 Sprint program with both Super Lates and Limited Lates. Bicycle and power Wheel races will be held for the children as well. July 16 will be the return of the AMA Flat Track Motorcycles. Then, on July 20, the World of Outlaws will make their first appearance of the season at the Speed Palace. The Wingless Super Sportsmen will be on the card too.
Abreu Absolute at Grandview
(Bechtelsville, PA June 28, 2022): After spending some time with his family, Rico Abreu made his 2022 Pennsylvania Speedweek debut in grand style, winning his heat race and leading wire-to-wire in the 35 lap feature. His third career Speedweek win was worth a cool $10,000 and his name will be engraved on the perpetual trophy for the Hodnett Cup. The Hodnett Cup honors the memory of six-time Thunder on the Hill champion, Greg Hodnett.
Brett Kressley, the Saturday night points leader at the track, used a long green flag run to chase down the leaders and grab the lead just past half way in the NASCAR 358 Modified undercard.
Abreu noted that “we just put ourselves into position all night.” He also gave props to this crew led by veteran wrench Ricky Warner. “This team is starting to gel,” Abreu added. Plus, he explained that his equipment is fresh.
Abreu caught a break when the caution came out when he encountered heavy lapped traffic with twenty-three laps completed. “It worked in our favor. I didn’t want to get beat up there, so I kept cheating up but the lapped cars were getting away from me.” The maneuver was almost a costly one, as second place runner, Brent Marks, got his nose under him just as the caution light flashed on.
Marks, who eventually dropped to third, agreed with Abreu. “That was a little frustrating race. I got under Rico and then the yellow came out.” Marks added that things always seem to happen that way for him at Grandview Speedway.
Anthony Macri dug himself out of a hole to finish second. After starting on the outside of the front row, he lost valuable track position on the opening lap. “I messed up on the initial start and two or three cars got by me.” Macri, who was strong in his heat using a middle groove, struggled for most of the race. “The bottom started to clean up and then it took some rubber,” he explained. He was able to drive past Marks, and he reached the tail of Abreu’s car, but there was nothing left to make a bid for the win.
Abreu and Macri were on the front row, with Christopher Bell and Marks in the second. Kyle Larson and Danny Dietrich were in row three. Tanner Thorson and Justin Peck launched from row four, with Austin Bishop and Lucas Wolfe taking off from the fifth row, Ryan Smith and Kyle Moody departed from row six.
Abreu led the charge into turn one, but there was plenty of action going on behind him, Marks reached second, followed by Bell, Macri, and Larson. Bell moved into second on lap two, but Marks wasn’t prepared to give up the spot. The two battled back and forth before Marks claimed the position just as the yellow came out.
On the restart, with seven complete, Bell dove low in turn one and the two ran side-by-side for half a lap. Marks thundered off the top of turn four to hold the second position.
With Abreu leading Marks, things were getting interesting elsewhere in the top five. Dietrich and Larson were making their presence known to Bell and Macri.
That race within the race ended when Larson turned over in between the third and fourth corners. His car sustained a broken left rear wheel, but it was unknown if that precipitated the crash or resulted from it. In any event, the four-time winner of this event was out before the halfway mark.
Abreu led the next nine laps, with Marks staying in his shadow. Marks drew closer as Abreu slowed his pace to stay behind the lapped cars. Marks made a bold move on the inside of turn three but his attempted pass would not have counted even if it had been completed because the caution came out for the final time. Fortunately, both lead cars were able to avoid the spinner ahead of them.
On the ensuing restart, Abreu and Marks both went low into turn one. Macri tried the middle groove and found enough grip to drive by Marks for second. Abreu stayed low, in the rubber, and pulled away until he reached the rear of the field. This time, he tucked in behind the last car and moderated his pace again.
Macri drew in on the leader, and soon the top five or six cars were running nose to tail. Abreu stayed in line and did not attempt to pass any of the slower cars. The last of them slid up out of the groove and Abreu darted ahead, ensuring his victory.
Macri crossed in second, with Marks third. Dietrich was fourth, and Bell was fifth. Thorson edged pout Peck in the final laps for sixth. Ryan Smith, Wolfe, and Freddie Rahmer, Jr. completed the top ten.
Four heats were conducted for the thirty-one cars on hand. The winners were Abreu, Peck, Thorson, and Larson. Jeff Halligan won the B Main. Macri set the fastest time of the night, at 12.025 seconds.
The unofficial points for PA Speedweek finds Macri ahead of Marks by 84 markers. Peck is third, nineteen points back from second. These three drivers are the only ones eligible for the ten for ten bonus offered by Selinsgrove Ford, as they have logged top ten finishes in each race so far. Wolfe, Stutts, Freddie Rahmer, Jr., Dietrich, Halligan, Dylan Norris, and Chase Dietz make up the rest of the top ten.
In the NASCAR 358 Modifieds, Mike Lisowski jumped out to the early lead, followed by Jared Umbenhauer, Duane Howard, Brett Kressley, Ron Kline, Alex Yankowski, and Craig Whitmoyer. Umbenhauer took control just a couple of laps later.
Kressley moved into second soon thereafter and he chased down the leader in traffic. Kressly made his move to the front, leaving Umbenhauer in second, while Howard, Yankowski, Lissowski, and Jeff Strunk battled for positions in the top five.
“The long green lag run helped me,” Kresslesy said. He (Umbenhauer) got caught up in lapped traffic.”
A quick caution with four laps remaining gave Howard a shot at the leader, but Kressley was up to the task.
At the checkers, it was Kressley, Howard, Umbenhauer, Yankowski, and Billy Pauch, Jr. Strunk, Lisowski, Craig Von Dohren, Whitmoyer, and Rick Laubach completed the top ten.
The heat victories belonged to Laubach, Kline, and Whitmoyer. The B Main victor was Bobby Trapper, Jr.