Hard Charger: Joey Saldana Comes from 13th to Win at I-55 Raceway Pevely, MO- April 17, 2010- Joey Saldana has earned some hard fought wins over the years, but his victory on Saturday night at I-55 Raceway, was one of the toughest and most ...
Hard Charger: Joey Saldana Comes from 13th to Win at I-55 Raceway
Pevely, MO- April 17, 2010- Joey Saldana has earned some hard fought wins over the years, but his victory on Saturday night at I-55 Raceway, was one of the toughest and most demanding of his career, as he raced for the third time since having 10 screws and a plate inserted into his broken left hand. He lined up 13 th at the high-banked 1/3-mile bullring before a huge crowd and took the lead on a double file restart with just five laps remaining.
It was Saldana's second consecutive win at I-55 Raceway and his third career at the track with the World of Outlaws. He now has three A-Feature wins this season and is currently second in points, just 17 markers behind current leader Jason Meyers, as each chases their first World of Outlaws title. Along with winning, Saldana also earned the KSE Racing Products Hard Charger Award for passing the most cars during the A-Feature.
"That was a great race car and a great race," said Saldana. "The entire team put in an amazing effort. I don't know what to say. I'm glad to be in Victory Lane."
Saldana took the lead on a lap-36 double file restart as he lined up on the low side of the track after leader Craig Dollansky chose the high side. One final restarted awaited Saldana on the next lap, which saw him choose the low line for that restart aboard the Budweiser Maxim, making him the only driver all night that chose to restart down low on a double file restart of which there were a total of four.
"It was really tough running the cushion and I didn't want to wear myself out," Saldana noted. "The car was working very good on the bottom and I just wanted to stick with it."
He was victorious last season at I-55 Raceway in the inaugural Ironman 55 which returns again in 2010 on August 6-7. Saldana and his Kasey Kahne Racing team look to use some of what worked on Saturday night when they return for the Ironman in the heat of the summer.
"We're definitely always trying things and learning new things, so hopefully it does help when we come back here in August," he stated. "The Ironman was a great event last year and I'm really looking forward to it again this year. I always enjoy racing at I-55. Everyone here does a great job."
Craig Dollansky led the opening lap of the race on Saturday night and wound up leading 10 circuits en route to a runner-up finish aboard the Big Game Treestands Maxim. He started on the outside of the front row and took the lead from Jac Haudenschild exiting the fourth turn on the first lap.
Haudenschild battled back on the second lap and retook the top spot. Dollansky used a strong restart on the 27th lap on the low side of the high-banked bullring, to take the lead again, after Haudenschild who was leading chose the high side. Haudenschild went very high in turn two, brushing the wall and falling back to fourth.
Dollansky continued to lead when the caution flew on the 36th lap. He restarted on the high side of the track and shot to a lead, when another caution flew. Since the second caution was for a spin and not an accident, another double file restart was in order. On that restart, Saldana took the lead, as Dollansky nearly got into the wall in turn two. He had Jac Haudenschild and Jason Sides battle him late in the going, but held on for second.
"Those last five laps, we were running out of fuel, so we were fortunate to get a good finish tonight," shared Dollansky. "We had a good race car and were good through the middle stages of the race. It came down to lane choice there and Joey (Saldana) got a good restart."
Dollansky, who has finished first or second in each of his last three starts at I-55 was quick to compliment the track crew, who re-worked the entire surface following the dash and provided a multi-grooved track for the main event, which saw three drivers that started outside of the Top-10 finish among the Top-Five, including Saldana who won.
"This is one of the best race tracks in the country and it takes a lot of track preparation," shared Dollansky. "These guys put in a lot of work. My hat's off to Ray (Marlar) and Kenny Schrader and all the fans that come out here. It's always great to see the fans in this area and you get some of the best racing in the country when they go out and work the track like tonight."
Jason Sides came all the way from 15th to finish third in the Wetherington Tractor Service Maxim. He used the low side of the track in the late going to pass a number of cars to earn his third consecutive Top-Five finish at the track.
"The track was really good for us," shared Sides. "When you have a top and a bottom like that it makes for some great racing. We've been plugging away on this old car here and it's been running good."
Sides used four strong double file restarts over the course of the 40-lap contest on his way to the front. He lined up on the outside three times and on inside on the final restart. He started the main event in the 15th spot and actually fell back to 17th on the first lap before beginning his march to the front. He worked his way into the Top-10 on the 18th go-around and was in the Top-Five on lap-27.
"I think it did help," said Sides when asked about the double file restarts. "Anytime it's a good wide track like that and you can see the leader and turn down like that is good. It seems like it helped and played in our favor."
Jac Haudenschild, who started on the pole and led 25 laps after scoring his first win of the season on Friday night, wound up fourth in the Owens-Corning Fiberglass XXX.
Steve Kinser worked his way from the 14th starting spot to finish fifth in the Bass Pro Shops Maxim, with his teammate Donny Schatz coming from 11th to sixth aboard the Armor All/STP J&J.
Jason Meyers finished seventh in the GLR Investments KPC and remains the only driver that has finished in the Top-10 in each and every race in 2010. He continues to lead the World of Outlaws championship standings as he chases his first title.
Tim Kaeding was eighth in the DTR Transport KPC, with Chad Kemenah ninth piloting the Golden Flavor Sesame Sticks Maxim. Brian Brown rounded out the Top-10 aboard the FVP Maxim.
The World of Outlaws return to action on Saturday, April 24 at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Indiana.
I-55 RACEWAY NOTES
* FAST QUALIFIER: Paul McMahan paced the 37 cars that took time with an AMB i.t. timed lap around the high-banked 1/3-mile oval at 10.440 seconds at 114.828 mph. For his qualifying effort, McMahan earned five bonus points. The next four fastest qualifiers also earned bonus points, including: Sammy Swindell (4), Donny Schatz (3), Kraig Kinser (2) and Joey Saldana (1).
* I-55 RACEWAY QUALIFYING WINNERS: Jason Meyers, Craig Dollansky, Jac Haudenschild and Tim Kaeding won heat races. Jac Haudenschild won the dash. Chad Kemenah won the B-Main.
* FEATURE WINNERS: There have been 12 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series A-Feature events held in 2010. The winners include: Jason Meyers (The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Thunderbowl Raceway, Volunteer Speedway and Tri-State (Okla.) Speedway), Joey Saldana (Thunderbowl Raceway, Volunteer Speedway and I-55 Raceway), Craig Dollansky (Lone Star Speedway), Jac Haudenschild (Paducah International Raceway), Steve Kinser (VolusiaSpeedwayPark), Donny Schatz (VolusiaSpeedwayPark) and Jason Sides (HoustonRacewayPark).
* 1/3-MILE WINNERS: I-55 Raceway is a high-banked 1/3-mile oval. The World of Outlaws have raced three times on a track that size this season. The winners include: Joey Saldana (Thunderbowl Raceway and I-55 Raceway) and Jason Meyers (Thunderbowl Raceway).