Unstoppable: Sam Hafertepe Jr. Extends Record-Setting Streak To Five
After starting on the outside of the second row, Hafertepe took the lead on lap 17 and never looked back en route to winning the Protect the Harvest 25 and extending his record-setting streak to five straight victories to start the season. Previously, no driver has opened the ASCS with more than two consecutive victories. Hafertepe's fifth win also tied Gary Wright's overall streak of concurrent victories from 2005.
Hailing from Sunnyvale, Hafertepe earned each of his prior four wins in his native Texas. He swept a two-night show at Devil's Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, Texas, on March 17-18 and won both ends of a double-header at the Texas Motor Speedway Dirt track on April 7-8.
"This is incredible," said Hafertepe after scoring his record-matching win. "We really didn't have the best car early on. We were way too tight, and I had to start making it work, especially in three and four where they were just eating us up but just hats off to my guys.
"Let me tell you, Johnny and I raced well together last year, and it's the same this year. I've got a lot of respect for what he does, and he shows the same towards me and when we can put on a show like that in front of these fans, that's what makes them want to come back every time."
Hafertepe's words of praise for the second-place driver came when Herrera stopped by Victory Lane.
Hafertepe fought a tight car early in the race. That allowed Herrera to pull out to substantial lead, but a lap-eight caution bunched the field and got Hafertepe's No. 15h out of dirty air. The clean track improved the handling of his car.
The next time the field found the back of the pack, Hafertepe was better prepared. He executed the pass and then put slower cars between himself and his rival.
Hafertepe's tight condition returned in the final laps, which allowed Herrera to find his back bumper once more. Working the low side with a handful of circuits remaining, the pair hit the finish line within a few feet of one another.
Local hot shoe Jonathan Cornell finished third to the delight of the hometown fans.
Blake Hahn earned his first top five of the season after repairing his sprinter from a rollover crash at Texas. Kyle Bellm, from Nixa, MO, rounded out the top five.