LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Blake Hahn added himself to a select list of elite racers by charging to his second consecutive Short Track Nationals victory Saturday night at I-30 Speedway.
Hahn reclaimed the point from John Carney II on the 21st circuit and led the rest of the way in the 41-lapper to take the $10,041-winner’s share in the 32nd annual COMP Cams Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires finale.
“This is amazing,” Hahn said upon climbing out of the DriveWFX/Smiley’s No. 52 in victory lane. “We’ve been running well lately and to win this race twice in a row is incredible.”
With the triumph, the Sapulpa, Okla., racer became just the fifth in STN history to win the event in back-to-back years, joining the likes of Steve Kinser (1988-’89), Gary Wright (2003-’04), Tony Bruce, Jr. (2008-’09) and, most recently, Sammy Swindell (2016-’17).
Hahn bounced back from missing the cut in Friday night’s preliminary feature to race his way into Saturday’s four-car Mike Pack Building Materials Dash for Cash.
And, after drawing the pole position, Hahn led all but the final milliseconds when Seth Bergman nipped him at the line to earn a $500 bonus and the pole for the 41-lap finale with Carson Short and Carney II earning second row starting berths.
Hahn gunned into the initial lead only to surrender the point to Carney II on just the second lap. Carney II kept Hahn and company at bay in the ensuing rounds, fending off a pair of bids from Hahn along the way.
Hahn began to close in as the midway point approached and dove underneath Carney II entering turn three on the 21st round to recapture the lead.
With the final 23 laps run in non-stop fashion after three interruptions in the initial 18 circuits, Hahn worked through some traffic and set a rapid pace to maintain a half-straightaway lead as the laps clicked off.
Carney II and Bergman diced in his wake, swapping the runner-up position several times before a tense moment in traffic allowed Bergman to secure the position. Working the cushion, Bergman chipped away at Hahn’s advantage in the closing circuits only to come up short at the line.
“I think we may have had something for him if the cautions would have fallen a little different and we had got to more traffic,” Bergman said.
After posting a runner-up finish in Friday’s preliminary, Carney II earned his best career STN championship feature finish as well by rounding out the podium in third.
While the trio of Han, Bergman and Carney II monopolized the top three positions throughout the 41-lapper, position changes behind them were frequent with Sam Hafertepe Jr., ultimately taking the fourth position after starting 13th.
Hafertepe surged over the final half of the race, gaining a handful of positions to post his fourth career STN top five.
On the charge with Hafertepe, Harli White rallied from 15th to become the first lady racer to crack the top five in an STN championship feature.
Feature (41 Laps – Starting position in parentheses): 1. 52-Blake Hahn (2) [$10,041], 2. 23b-Seth Bergman (1) [$5,000}, 3. J2-John Carney II (4) [$2,500], 4. 15h-Sam Hafertepe, Jr. (13) [$2,200], 5. 17w-Harli White (15) [$2,000], 6. 9jr-Derek Hagar (8) [$1,700], 7. 3-Howard Moore (18) [$1,500], 8. 47x-Dylan Westbrook (7) [$1,300], 9. 44m-Chris Martin (10) [$1,200], 10. X-Charlie Louden (6) [$1,100], 11. 84-Brandon Hanks (12) [$1,000], 12. 95-Matt Covington (9) [$950], 13. 21s-Carson Short (3) [$900], 14. 1x-Tim Crawley (21) [$880], 15. 17T-Channin Tankersley (16) [$850], 16. 47-Dale Howard (5) [$800], 17. 44b-Scott Bogucki (11) [$800], 18. 14-Jordon Mallett (20) [$800], 19. 8z-Zach Pringle (17) [$800], 20. 12h-Tony Bruce, Jr. (14) [$800], 21. W20-Greg Wilson (19) ]$800]