Blake Hahn begins his ASCS title defense at Devil’s Bowl

Blake Hahn begins his ASCS title defense at Devil’s Bowl

By Phil Whipple, Staff Writer. photo by Marcus Berglund.

SAPULPA, Oklahoma — The Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series (ASCS) began its 31st season of competition Friday with the 49th annual Spring Nationals at the famed Devil’s Bowl Speedway, one driver in particular will be looking at the ‘big picture,’ and have a clear goal in mind. 

For 27-year-old defending series champion Blake Hahn, the plan is to repeat as National champion in this ultra-competitive series. After seeking a National crown the past few years with his family-owned race team, Hahn struck gold in 2021, with seven wins, 23 top-five and 35 top-10 finishes in 39 starts. 

“We had been striving for the championship these last few years,” Hahn said. “We’ve been running the national tour since 2014. With Sam Hafertepe running with us the last couple of years, we’ve been able to chase him and pick up some things. Running against top guys like that we’ve been able to learn a lot.

“Last year, we were able to achieve that consistency we lacked in previous seasons. Clicking off the wins is nice, but it’s consistent finishes up front that put you in contention for a title. Being around at the end of the night every week is what really counts. I’m proud of what we were able to do in 2021.”

Hahn’s road to earning a National championship is an ideal template for how climbing the ladder should be done. Throughout his career, he studied, learned and appreciated every single opportunity.

“I started racing in 2004 in Junior Sprints, which are the smaller version of the 600cc Micro’s,” Hahn explained. “My first race was the Tulsa Shootout, which is a pretty big race in the Mirco world. We were able to pick up a Golden Driller trophy in the Junior Sprint class in 2006, which was pretty cool.  

“We moved up to the Restrictor class after that, and earned a points championship in ASCS 2 division. From there we made the big jump up to the Outlaw, which is the premier class in Micro Sprint racing. We were able to win a title there running with guys like Christopher Bell, and a ton of other big guns.”

From his days in the Micro, it was onward and upward to the next logical step and division.

“Once we felt like we were really competitive in Micros, we decided it was time to go Midget racing,” Hahn added. “My first time in one was at the Chili Bowl, which was a little intimidating. It was a decent start; I won my Heat and made it through the Qualifier, but didn’t have the best night in Prelims.

“But to be just 16 years old and participating in my first Chili Bowl was a pretty exciting moment. With my Grandpa being the co-founder of that event, it meant a lot to me. It was definitely a race I always wanted to be in, and to be able to do it when I was so young was an opportunity I sure appreciated.” 

That foray into Midget racing put Hahn on people’s radar, and his career began to take off from there.

“We got our feet wet in the Sprint car world in 2012, running two or three races,” he said. “In 2013 we got hooked up with a car owner out of Houston, Texas, named Bruce Griffith. We raced with him all that year, and in 2014, Bruce asked me if I wanted to go run the National tour. 

“With me being fresh out of high school, there was nothing I ever wanted to do more. Luckily, we were able to get the equipment together and go racing. And man, did I ever get an eye opener; I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. So 2014 was a big learning year, racing against some very big names.”

Hahn says even though he had gotten himself in pretty deep, the National tour experience was worth it.

“I think that was what helped me at the beginning was racing against such tough competition,” he added. “We raced hard but kind of struggled all of 2014, and at season’s end Bruce took his cars back to Houston. That’s when my Grandpa and my Dad sat down and decided to form our own team.

“We kind of went all in for 2015, got a couple of cars and got serious about it. That was another big learning year for us, and since then we’ve tried to just buckle down and gain as much knowledge as possible. We had been close to a points title before, but last year luckily we were able to pull if off.”     

If you aren’t yet familiar with the depth of talent within that ASCS pit area, Hahn can easily fill you in.

“There are loads of good teams there every week, ” he said with added emphasis. “We may have lost Sam (Hafertepe) last year, but guys like Matt Covington and J.J. Hickle are super fast. Those guys are really fast and consistent. And it looks like we’ll have a lot of solid teams traveling with us this year.”

When Hahn suits up this Friday and Saturday at Devil’s Bowl and gets set to compete, he climbs into a beautiful, state-of-the-art machine. These things are rockets on wheels, with ample power to spare.

“We run a JR1 chassis built by Jerry Russell,” he explained. “His cars are top notch, and I love how they drive. We get our horsepower from Rider Racing Engines out of Pennsylvania. They put out about 700 ponies, which is pretty stout for a 360. This chassis and engine combination works well for us.”

Along with his mature approach to the sport, amazing skills behind the wheel and top-notch equipment, Hahn also has some good people and a host of valued marketing partners who keep his team on track. 

“I really need to thank Western Flyer Express, the Tulsa Shootout, Glen Styres Racing, Sage Fruit, Smiley’s Racing Products, Hoosier Tire, CSR Garage, Lucas Oil, Schoenfeld, Brodix, and Premiere Machine. I truly appreciate their support and could not do this without them.” 

With this weekend’s ASCS season opener now completed,  Hahn is ready to get the tour going. 

“We’ve had a long off-season, and have been working hard getting our cars and equipment all ready,” he concluded. “For me, the best place to be is at the race track. We’re looking forward to unloading at Devil’s Bowl and getting some laps under our belt. We’ll be chasing points, and out there having fun.” Hahn finished 9th and 2nd at Devil’s Bowl Speedway’s opening weekend.

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