ALGER, Wash. — Sam Hafertepe Jr. led every lap to win Saturday night’s 45th annual Jim Raper Memorial Dirt Cup, sanctioned by the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series presented by the MAVTV Motorsports Network, at Skagit Speedway.
Hafertepe’s 11th career Lucas Oil ASCS National Tour triumph, the win is Sam’s fourth National Tour triumph of the season, and marks his 10th podium appearance of the season.
“You know, this is pretty awesome. I know a lot of these fans know that Rudeen gave me my first opportunity up here so I was able to get a lot of laps around here,” Hafertepe explained. “We won an Outlaw show here and tried the Dirt Cup a few times with those guys and just never got it done, so to come here tonight, and get Dirt Cup in my car; I just really have to thank Rudeen for everything they’ve done for me through the years because this it’s just awesome.”
Gridding second, the driver of the Keith Dobbs Motorsports No. 15h outgunned defending race winner Jason Solwold into the first two turns to begin building a comfortable advantage.
Working the cushion at both ends of the Skagit Speedway, traffic became a major factor as the race worked to the 10th lap, forcing Hafertepe to begin searching the bottom.
“I was definitely concerned,” Hafertepe said. “When you see the No. 87 (Aaron Reutzel) rolling up on the board, and the No. 23 (Seth Bergman), both are tough competitors and I knew if they were able to get by Jason (Solwold) they were going to be pretty tough so I burned the tires off just giving everything I could give it. We were blistered on every block because I was not conserving tires, I was trying to get a far ahead of them guys as I could.”
Hafertepe pulled to a nearly five second advantage as the race rolled just past the halfway point before the caution flag waved on lap 22 for Travis Jacobson. With several lapped cars in the lineup, Sam again pulled to a comfortable advantage; leaving Solwold to contend with Bergman.
Working to second on the 24th revolution, Bergman began closing the gap on Hafertepe as Reutzel went to work on Solwold for third. Reutzel grabbed third on lap 33 with Blake Hahn moving to fourth two laps later.
Hafertepe was elbows up through traffic, lapping to 11th place en-route to the night’s $15,000 score.
Close quarters racing with Seth Bergman in the closing laps that saw the pair tap tires more than once, Aaron Reutzel from 10th gabbed the runner-up spot on lap 39. The silver medal performance is the second time in as many years for Reutzel.
“I felt like I gave this one away last night,” Reutzel said. “If I’d just finished top four, I think we might have won this thing. We by far had one of the fastest race cars. We had one caution and drove up through there but on that one restart, there were probably six lapped cars we had to go through before we even got to Sam but this is nothing to hang our heads about. We’ve had such a tough year, we needed this as a team. Me and Marty needed this to build up a little confidence.”
Despite a massive fuel leak on the Corridor Electric No. 23 during the closing laps, Bergman finished third.
“It seems like no matter where me and the No. 87 car are on the track, whether it’s for the lead, or 10th place, we always seem to race hard, but hats off to Sam and those guys, they did a great job,” Bergman said. “This is a good top three in my opinion. I had a run on Sam there late in the race, and I really thought I was going to have something for him but I got the wing a little far back and got tight in traffic, and you can’t make those mistakes with Aaron behind you.”
Sam Hafertepe Jr., Aaron Reutzel, Seth Bergman, Blake Hahn, Jason Solwold, Johnny Herrera, Wayne Johnson, Chase Goetz, Marc Duperron, Logan Forler, Cameron (Cam) Smith, Travis Rilat, Greg Hamilton, Travis Jacobson, Matt Covington, Jared Peterson, Eric Fisher, -Colton Heath, Mack Brown, Bricen James, Skylar Gee, Trever Kirkland.