Saldana Ready for Eckerd Outlaw Showdown Joey Saldana feels no pressure heading into the heart of stock car country this week, driving for one of stock car racing's biggest stars. The native of Brownsburg, Indiana actually feels very relaxed...
Saldana Ready for Eckerd Outlaw Showdown
Joey Saldana feels no pressure heading into the heart of stock car country this week, driving for one of stock car racing's biggest stars. The native of Brownsburg, Indiana actually feels very relaxed and at home in the Charlotte area. After all, his Kasey Kahne Racing team has their shop in Mooresville, North Carolina, which is in the epicenter of the full-fendered crowd.
Saldana will take to The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway, which is directly across the street from the 1.5-mile Lowe's Motor Speedway on Friday, May 25 for the Eckerd Outlaw Showdown. The event will pay $10,000 to win from a total purse of over $75,000.
This will be the first of two visits for the best sprint car drivers in the world to the immaculate 0.4-mile track this season, with the inaugural Outlaws World Finals wrapping up the season in early November, featuring both the World of Outlaws and the World of Outlaws Late Model Series.
"It's neat to go there," said Saldana, driver of the Open Joist Mopar-powered JEI. "It is great to go there with the (NASCAR Nextel) Cup cars there, because that brings in a lot of people that normally would not get to see us. We hope to put on a good show for the fans."
Saldana had a steady night last season in the Eckerd Outlaw Showdown, as he was the third quickest of the 51 cars on-hand in time trials. After transferring from his heat race into the A-Feature, he earned a spot in the Crane Cams Dash. In the A-Feature he finished a very solid eighth. Though his team has meticulous notes from the track, some modifications to the racing surface will probably make those set-ups null this season.
"They changed the track a little bit from last year," he noted. "They moved the infield out some trying to make the racing better. We had a chance to test there about a month ago and it will probably be nothing like it was then when we race there."
After charging from the 20th starting spot to finish third on Wednesday night at Grandview Speedway in Pennsylvania, despite running most of the A-Feature with a broken right rear shock, Saldana and his team quickly loaded the trailer and hit the road for the nearly 600 mile journey south to the Charlotte area. They planned to return home and begin working to prepare for another busy stretch of races that will start on Friday at The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway, before an 800-mile trip north to New York for an event on Memorial Day, prior to a swing through the Midwest.
"We'll definitely be back at the shop on Thursday," he said. "At the beginning of the year we got to go back there a lot and work. This is the first swing we have had this year where we have been away from the shop for more than a week. It will be good for the guys to get back, because they have family members in Mooresville. It will be good to restock the trailer and be ready to go back out on the road again."
Saldana is excited for the event on Friday, knowing that many fans that normally do not get to see 410-winged sprint car racing will be in attendance. In addition to this the cameras from SPEED will be rolling as the event will be taped for broadcast on Sunday, June 10.
"For us racing in Charlotte is huge," explained Saldana. "This is what sprint car racing has always needed. Now that we have it, we have to put on a good show. The World of Outlaws are getting us to facilities like The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway, where we bring in fans that normally don't get to see us. We need to put a good show on, so that the fans become sprint car fans, not just racing fans."
In his racing career, Saldana has driven three types of vehicles, all open wheeled machines. A winged-sprint car was the first vehicle he ever climbed into at a race track. He also has competed a few times in a non-wing sprint car, and twice he has strapped into a midget. If the opportunity every presented itself to hop into a stock car preferably on the dirt, Saldana would gladly climb behind the wheel.
"I have never driven any type of stock car," he said. "I would love to though. I am going to go to the Prelude (to the Dream) at Eldora Speedway where Kasey (Kahne) will run a dirt late model and watch that. I don't think he has ever run a late model either. It would be neat to do that, but I have never had the opportunity."
Saldana's car owner will be at the Eckerd Outlaw Showdown, as he continues to prepare for the Coca-Cola 600 at the big track across the street from The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway. Saldana enjoys having Kahne at the track, and won a number of times last season, including the prestigious Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway with his car owner present. While his busy schedule does not allow him to attend as many World of Outlaws events as he would like, Kahne uses the marvels of modern technology to keep up-to-date with how Saldana and the team are doing.
"It will be good to have Kasey at the race," commented Saldana. "He has been watching the DIRTVision.com broadcasts and listening to it. He watches and listens faithfully to the Outlaws. It's easier to have him there watching the car, so that is you have problems, he can see what is going on because he has driven one before."
The Eckerd Outlaw Showdown will be the third event this season for the World of Outlaws on a 0.4-mile track. Saldana won in the season's first race on a track that size at Volunteer Speedway in Tennessee back in March, and followed that up with a runner-up finish at Lernerville Speedway in Pennsylvania last week, which is also the same size track as The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway. After his third-place effort on Wednesday night, Saldana has racked up 20 Top-10 finishes and 15 Top-Five finishes to go along with five A-Feature wins in the first 24 races of the season, as he continues to battle with Donny Schatz for the top spot in the championship point standings.
"We have been pretty fortunate this year to win on that size race tracks," he said. "We have been fast enough to win on other race tracks as well and just not gotten the win. I wish we would have a couple half-mile wins or wins on smaller tracks, but you just have to take what you get and keep striving to get better. Hopefully at the end of the year we will have accomplished winning on all types of race tracks."
On Friday, May 25, at The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway tickets for the Eckerd Outlaw Showdown on Friday night, May 25, are $25 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under. They can be purchased by calling 1-800-455-FANS or online at www.lowesmotorspeedway.com.