A narrow groove and slower traffic provided a race for the ages at Canyon Speedway Park with the battle to the checkered flag coming down to the final 100 feet as Sam Hafertepe, Jr. barely edged Justin Sanders for Saturday’s SawBlade.com A-Feature win with the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series presented by the MAVTV Motorsports Network.
A huge turnaround from the start of his season in Florida, Hafertepe’s goal for the weekend was to test and tune before returning to action with the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1.
While very confident in his car during the A-Feature, that Florida frustration was lingering going into the night’s races.”We were frustrated Thursday during practice. We were frustrated last night but we finally clicked on something in the feature tonight and as soon as we took the green and I felt it going into turn-one I said this race is over,” stated Hafertepe.
Taking the lead away from Harli White on Lap 2, Hafertepe spent the first half of the A-Feature uncontested as the track began narrowing from the top to the bottom. Losing the lead on Lap 22 to Justin Sanders, who took the point with a high line pass off the fourth turn, the No. 21k of Thomas Kennedy sat directly in front of the race for the lead.
Not able to clear Kennedy, who had been running third before going around on Lap 5, the advantage came back to Hafertepe on Lap 28. Stalked by Sanders with Harli White racing into the picture as well, the top three raced the white flag with Sanders diving under Hafertepe through the first and second turns.
Still having to contend with lapped traffic as the final two turns came onto view, Sanders was forced to the middle groove with Hafertepe diving as low as possible. Dead even off the final turn, both drivers mashed the throttle with the checkered flag in view and Sam Hafertepe, Jr. winning by 0.116 seconds.
Back to back podium finishes for Sanders, the California shoe bettered himself by one spot as Harli White made her second career podium appearance with the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series presented by the MAVTV Motorsports Network.
Moving up from seventh, Matt Covington retains the series point’s lead with a fourth-place finish. Dominic Scelzi completed the top five after starting 14th. Roger Crockett moved from ninth to sixth with Colby Copeland making moves from 12th to finish seventh. Tanner Carrick in eighth was trailed by Scott Bogucki with Seth Bergman making up the top ten.
A weekend total of 51 drivers from 15 states and a trio of counties, 48 returned for Saturday’s showdown. A half-dozen SCE Gaskets Heat Races were won by Alex Pettas, Thomas Kennedy, Coton Hardy, Lorne Wofford, Giovanni Scelzi, and Jordon Mallett. Hoosier Tire Qualifiers went to Matt Covington, Blake Carrick, Harli White, and Dominic Scelzi. BMRS B-Features were topped by Giovanni Scelzi and D.J. Netto.
The Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series presented by the MAVTV Motorsports Networks is on the road to California for three nights of racing. Merced Speedway begins the three-night affair on Friday, March 6 with Placerville Speedway on Saturday, March 7, and finally Petaluma Speedway on Sunday, March 8.