FORT WORTH, Texas — For the third time in his career, Washington’s Seth Bergman rolled into victory lane at the Texas Motor Speedway Dirt Track to pick up the victory on the first night of Tony Stewart Presents the Vankor Texas Sprint Car Nationals with the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series presented by Sawblade.com.
“This place had been good to me. We’ve won a couple of races here over the past few years, but nonetheless, he [Sam Hafertepe, Jr.] made me earn it,” Bergman said. “The track was heavy tonight and I was good in open air, but when I got into traffic, it really dirtied up the wing and made it tough to get around there so that made lapped traffic even tougher and Sam obviously did a good job getting to me. I feel like I made a few mistakes there that let him get close, but we got lucky with the caution when he got to the inside of me. Sometimes it pays to be lucky like that, and tonight it did.”
Drawing the pole for the 25-lap feature, Bergman would have to take two shots at holding the lead as the red flew following the first attempt for Harli White, who flipped wildly into the wall through the first and second turns after contact from Wayne Johnson.
With the field restacked Seth again took off with the lead in the Oil Field Equipment and Manufacturing No. 23 with Matt Covington and Tony Stewart giving chase. Caution working the third-lap, Covington would have to drop to the tail of the field as the left sideboard came off the top-wing of his Covington/Graves Motorsports No. 95.
Keeping Stewart at bay on the restart, Bergman would pull several car lengths over the Rush Truck Center No. 14 with Sam Hafertepe Jr. holding third. Racing past Stewart on lap 10 for the runner-up spot, Hafertepe began to close the gap as Bergman started to contend with slower traffic.
Fighting dirty air with laps clicking off, handling the No. 23 became a handful for Seth with the car darting every way but straight as traffic continued to work into the mix.
Stalking into the final two laps, the stage was set for Hafertepe. Building the run as the leaders ran to the white flag, Seth worked into turn-one only to have dirty air again come into play as the two trailed a slower car. Trying to diamond through the first and second turns, it was too late as Hafertepe shot to the race lead only to have the caution lights blink on as Chance Morton spun to a stop off the second turn.
Back to the last fully completed lap, the final two revolutions saw Bergman hit his marks perfectly as he stretched his advantage to 1.007 seconds over Hafertepe at the checkered flag.
Working to third on lap 17, Sammy Swindell held on to claim the final podium step with Stewart fighting a failing power-steering gear to hold the final transfer spot into Saturday’s A-Feature. Running from the ninth starting spot, Blake Hahn completed the night’s top five.
A field of 35 drivers was on hand to open up Tony Stewart presents the Vankor Texas Sprint Car Nationals. Five Heat Races were topped by Wayne Johnson, Zane Lawrence, Harli White, Blake Hahn and Tony Stewart. BMRS B-Features went to Alex Sewell and Robbie Price.