Jordon Mallett (Sam Rogers photo)

Mallett Stops Hafertepe At Batesville

LOCUST GROVE, Ark. — Ever since Jordon Mallett began filling in for the injured Brandon Anderson, he’s said he wouldn’t be driving the No. 55b car if he didn’t think it was capable of winning.

He proved that Saturday night at Batesville Motor Speedway as he picked up his first win of the American Sprint Car Series National Tour season in thrilling fashion over Sam Hafertepe Jr.

“They put a lot of faith in me to do my job,” Mallett said. “I can’t thank those guys enough for the work they put in.”

Hafertepe’s dash win put him on the pole for the 25-lap feature as he looked to put the No. 15h in victory lane for the fourth time in 2024.

A strong start gave Hafertepe a three-car-length advantage down the backstretch on lap one over Mallett, who got to Matt Covington’s inside in the first corner to move from third to second.

The gap between Hafertepe and Mallett hovered around one second through the opening seven laps until Hafertepe caught the tail end of the field. While the slower cars did allow Mallett to close in, Hafertepe was able to pass cars quickly enough to deny Mallett the chance to pounce.

“I knew if I could keep pace with him all race, I felt like we were pretty good,” Mallett said. “Toward the end, I just kept fine-tuning my line and trying to find something.”

The stalled car of Andrew Deal reracked the field on lap 16, giving Hafertepe and Mallett a clear track to duel on.

When the race resumed, Mallett went to the bottom of the track to counter the top lane that Hafertepe had been running all night. The two remained side-by-side for two laps after the restart before Hafertepe finally managed to clear Mallett off turn four.

Much like the first half of the race, Hafertepe pulled away to a one-second lead over Mallett before he caught traffic and allowed Mallett to close.

A brilliant run through turns three and four put Mallett within a car length of Hafertepe coming to the white flag. He dove to the bottom lane once more in turn two, and this time he found enough momentum to clear Hafertepe with half a lap to go. Hafertepe went to the bottom himself in turn three but came up empty handed as he watched Mallett take the checkered flag — the second National Tour win of Mallett’s career and first since 2021.

“I was just able to charge through the bottom, enter high and go across the bottom and then float up,” Mallett said. “The car just kept getting better and better at doing that the last three or four laps. The last lap, I knew if I could get to him, I could clear him. We had one shot, and I felt like we made the most of the opportunity.”

Hafertepe’s second-place run was a strong rebound from a crash and engine issues in the last two events.

“When you’re leading these races, you don’t know what’s going on behind you,” Hafertepe said. “I felt some rubber off turn four, so I knew where to be there, just in [turns] one and two we didn’t know where to be. Honestly, I think we had been alright, just the last lap it felt like our right rear just went away.”

A third-place effort for Covington allowed him to hold onto second in points, 159 markers behind sixth-place runner Seth Bergman, as he continues the hunt for his first win of the season.

“Pulled my wing back, changed my line up a little bit, and that seemed to wake my car up and make it feel a lot better,” Covington said. “The longer the race went on, the more abrasive the track got, it just started to bring the track to my car, and we got better there at the end. Just not quite good enough.”

Hank Davis came home fourth to pick up his sixth top five in seven races with TwoC Racing, while Brady Baker rounded out the top five.

The finish

Feature (25 Laps): 1. 55B-Jordon Mallett[3]; 2. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr.[1]; 3. 95-Matt Covington[2]; 4. 2C-Hank Davis[6]; 5. 71-Brady Baker[4]; 6. 23-Seth Bergman[5]; 7. 47-Dale Howard[9]; 8. 10-Landon Britt[7]; 9. 2J-Zach Blurton[8]; 10. 8-Brad Bowden[16]; 11. 91-Michael Day[17]; 12. 16G-Austyn Gossel[11]; 13. 88-Terry Easum[15]; 14. 938-Bradley Fezard[12]; 15. 45X-Kyler Johnson[13]; 16. 6G-Bryan Gossel[14]; 17. 14-Jamey Mooney[19]; 18. 15D-Andrew Deal[10]; 19. 16S-Steven Howell[18]