WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — official release — Scott Frazier photo — Sam Hafertepe Jr. raced to his third Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series victory of the season in the inaugural Mid-South Showdown Thursday night at Riverside Int’l Speedway.
After losing legendary driver Shorty Chambliss on Monday, the feature was extended to 40 laps in honor of Chambliss’ signature No. 40.
“This place has got to be the most awesome place to win a race. I mean, just look at all the history here,” said Hafertepe. “I know Jeff blew up there, but man that was awesome. I wish we could have run lapped traffic all night long. It was a badass racetrack. I was pretty skeptical when we got here tonight. I didn’t know what we were going to get and to get what we got was pretty awesome.”
Starting on the pole, Hafertepe fell to the chasers position on the start as Jeff Swindell flew to the lead on the outside line.
Slowed on the second round, the green flew long enough to find traffic on lap seven.
Caution on lap 10, the next run went to lap 28 with Hafertepe continuing to chase Swindell through heavy traffic.
On the restart, Swindell wouldn’t get the jump he had been getting. With Hafertepe hanging close, the race became a three-car fight with Johnny Herrera in the mix.
Breathing down the neck of Swindell, a small amount of smoke began coming from the hood of the Heartland Catfish No. 94. With the engine laying down, Swindell held the middle groove, but couldn’t make the car wide enough as Hafertepe made the race winning pass on lap 35.
With just enough left, Swindell held on for a runner-up finish.
“With about eight or nine to go, something went south on the Motor so she was only running on about six cylinders so I just started running the middle of the track at a little more than half-throttle. I never even stood on it hard so I couldn’t believe it took them so long to get to me,” Swindell said. “I was just trying to salvage a finish out of it. I don’t know if I could have run her a little harder and stayed up there, but I figured they’d be hounding on me. I guess that means we had a good lead going into that.”
Johnny Herrera’s third podium appearance of the season is his second in as many races after jumping to fourth on the start from sixth before falling to ride fifth for nine laps.
“We had a really good race car,” Herrera said. “There in the middle of the race, we jumped to the top there and got back to fourth. We were just kind of riding there, and got to third and was actually running up to Sam there before the yellow came out. After that, is just wasn’t ever as good. For some reason, it got really tight in the right rear. Afterwards, we checked and had less than six pounds of air on the right rear, so now I know. I just wonder if it got cut there at the start when I got into the No. 14 car on the first lap when he got into wall.”
Tim Crawley was on a mission after a crash in his heat forced the No. 88 to the B feature. Winning that race, Crawley marched from 17th to fourth with Howard Moore doing the late Shorty Chambliss proud with a fifth-place finish.