Sam Hafertepe Jr. is the 360 Sprint Car Driver of the Year. (Richard Bales photo)

Hafertepe Is Top 360 Sprinter For Fifth Straight Year

KNOXVILLE, Iowa – Sam Hafertepe Jr. was voted the Driver of the Year by the North American 360 Sprint Car Poll for the fifth year in a row.

The award is voted on by a panel of media members, promoters, sanctioning officials and manufacturers, and the result was revealed just prior to Thursday’s preliminary night program at the 35th Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals.

Hafertepe, from Sunnyvale, Texas, is a five-time American Sprint Car Series National Tour champion. He won the Jesse Hockett/Daniel McMillin Memorial and the Short Track Nationals last year, earning eight of the 13 first-place ballots cast in the year-end poll.

Hill’s Racing, the owners of Hafertepe’s No. 15h, earned the Team of the Year award for the third consecutive year.

Pennsylvania’s Mark Smith received four first-place votes, and Florida’s Troy DeCaire received one first-place vote.

Mark Smith, who won 20 360 sprint car features last year, was second in the poll.

Oklahoma veteran Roger Crockett, six-time feature winner Shane Golobic, and five-time main event winner Blake Hahn filled out the top five..

Rounding out the top 10 in the voting were Lake Ozark Speedway Nationals winner Derek Hagar, USCS titlist Terry Gray, six-time USCS winner Dale Howard, South Australia’s Scott Bogucki and three-time Florida winner Troy DeCaire.

Garet Williamson of Columbia, Mo., earned the North American 360 Sprint Car Poll rookie-of-the-year title in his first full season of winged 360-cubic-inch sprint car competition.

Meanwhile, Smith earned Builder/Manufacturer of the Year honors for the second time with his chassis company, Mach-1 Chassis.

Todd Buffenbarger of TJSlideways.com and Michael Rigsby of FloRacing.com will receive the Media Member of the Year Award. It’s Buffenbarger’s fourth time receiving that honor and Rigsby’s first time as a media honoree in the 360 poll.

Doug Johnson, from Jackson Motorplex and Huset’s Speedway, received Promoter of the Year honors for the first time. Smith was bestowed the Wild Card Award for his exciting performances on the way to 20 wins in 360 sprint car racing.

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