ALGER, Wash. – Night one of the Monster Energy Meltdown at Skagit Speedway saw exciting action across all three divisions of competition.
Sam Hafertepe Jr. piloted the Rudeen Racing No. 26 to victory lane for the first time since 2011 to wrap up the Summer Thunder Series presented by Speedmart for the 360 Sprint Cars. Zach McCabe led the final two laps of the A Main to score the prelim night win of the Sportsman Sprint Showdown and Ben Gunderson battled his dad for the opening night win in the Outlaw Tuner Combat Series.
The final night of the Summer Thunder Series presented by Speedmart was owned by Sunnyvale, Texas, native Sam Hafertepe Jr. and the Rudeen Racing No. 26. After the fastest time trial lap in the 360 division in nine years, Hafertepe Jr started on the pole for the twenty five lap feature. Outside row one was Travis Jacobson, who took to an early lead around the high side of the speedway.
Hafertepe rolled the bottom for the first two circuits, building up a big head of steam as he entered the bottom of turn three on lap three for a slider. The move worked, as Sam got great forward drive through the corner, completing the pass as he exited turn four to take the lead. From there, only caution flags would slow him down, as he raced away to the victory, the first for Rudeen Racing at Skagit Speedway since Hafertepe beat the World of Outlaws in 2011.
Cam Smith raced to second and Travis Rilat was third. Rilat gave Jacobson a great run in the final Summer Thunder Series point standings, as Jacobson exited the race early with mechanical issues. In the end, it was Jacobson holding on for a nine point win over Rilat, followed by Trey Starks who finished third in the first ever series. Heat wins on the night went to Colton Heath, Eric Fisher and Rilat.
Steve Parker appeared to have night one of the Sportsman Sprint Showdown all wrapped up when disaster struck. Mired in lapped cars, Parker and a slower driver collided, knocking Steve’s top wing askew, which caused the veteran driver all kinds of handling issues. Zach McCabe of Arlington, Wash., was in prime position to take advantage, having raced his way into second a handful of laps before.
At the completion of lap 23, Parker was barely holding on, as was his top wing, before the wing fell completely off. McCabe pounced, passing the slowing Parker and grabbing the lead. Parker would come to a stop and pull off the track, while McCabe readied for a green-white checkered restart. With the drop of the green, it was all McCabe as he ran away for the win, followed by Devin Barnes and Kenny Rutz. Barnes was the fast qualifier of the night. Heat wins went to Cory Swatzina, Paul Burdick and Joey Duperron. McCabe was also the top point scorer of the evening and will start Saturday night’s A Feature on the pole.
A father/son battle headlines the first round of the Outlaw Tuner Combat Series at Skagit Speedway. Jon Gunderson held point for the first thirteen laps with son Ben Gunderson in tow. Ben built a big charge to take the lead on lap fourteen, but Jon got him back off the bottom on lap fifteen before a caution fell. On the restart, Ben built another big run around the outside groove, retaking the lead for good on the 16th circuit before taking the checkered flag one lap later. Jon held on for second, with hard charging Rick Young finishing third. Young and Matt Ploeg won the heat races.