A Golden Night: Saldana Wins 54th Annual Gold Cup Race of Champions Joey Saldana recently signed a contract extension to stay with Kasey Kahne Racing for another two years and he rewarded the team on Saturday night with their 11th A-Feature win...
A Golden Night: Saldana Wins 54th Annual Gold Cup Race of Champions
Joey Saldana recently signed a contract extension to stay with Kasey Kahne Racing for another two years and he rewarded the team on Saturday night with their 11th A-Feature win of the season, as he was victorious in the finale of the 54th Annual Gold Cup Race of Champions at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, California.
Saldana led all 40 laps on the high-banked ¼-mile to earn the $50,000 win in the storied event. He became just the second driver in the history of the race to earn such a large paycheck and the fifth driver from the state of Indiana to be victorious since the World of Outlaws began sanctioning it in 1979.
"It's an honor to win this race," said Saldana. "You always hear about the Gold Cup and what's it's about, being from where I am from. Being with the World of Outlaws, I have had the opportunity to race this event a number of times. That is when you realize how big the event is. To win it, is huge. This is one that every driver wants to win."
Saldana won the preliminary feature on Friday night to earn the most points to start on the pole position in the finale. His best career finish in the Gold Cup had been second twice.
"I had a good car," noted the native of Brownsburg, Indiana. "On the cushion, I definitely think we were the car to beat. Once that cleaned off, guys could run anywhere they wanted and the top slowed down. At the end you could run around the bottom as hard as you wanted, but had to keep the tire on. We were also pretty good in traffic."
Saldana jumped to an early lead with outside front row starter Jonathan Allard in-toe. Just six laps into the race, Saldana was already in lapped traffic as he had nearly a straightaway advantage. He continued to pull away in traffic when the yellow flag flew on the 12th lap.
On the ensuing restart, Allard, Steve Kinser and Sammy Swindell were three-wide on the back straightaway battling for the third spot. Allard held onto the position, and continued to battle with the two former World of Outlaws champions.
Jac Haudenschild thrilled the crowd on the 15th lap, as he went from fifth to third in just two corners. He first got around Kinser exiting the second turn, as he rode the high side of the track and then dove to the bottom to pass Swindell on the back straightaway. The next lap he slipped high coming off the second turn, allowing Kinser to move underneath him and take the third spot. Haudenschild moved back onto the racing surface and again began to chase Kinser in the Q Oil Maxim.
Saldana continued to lead in the Open Joist JEI, though he got bottled up in traffic at the halfway point of the race, allowing Allard to close in. On the 21st lap, Allard dove low in the second turn to take the lead, much to the delight of his hometown crowd, though the pass was negated when the red flag flew, before the lap had been completed. By World of Outlaws results, the line-up reverts to the last completed lap, and Saldana retained the lead.
After the open red flag, Kinser had a mechanical failure prior to the restart, ending his night and his bid for a 13th Gold Cup win.
Saldana used a strong restart on the high side of the track to again open a very healthy lead. As the laps wound down, he had trouble getting around a car he was trying to lap and fell back into line, giving Allard and Haudenschild a chance to close in. Allard looked low a couple of times in traffic but could not quite make the pass.
With three laps to go, Haudenschild got around Allard and tried everything he could to reel in Saldana. Allard had some trouble on the last lap and fell back to 10th. At the line, Saldana won by just 0.4 of a second.
"I wanted to get around the lapped car and did not want to get held up and someone get a run on me," explained the winner. "I tried to slide across the top in (turns) three and four hoping I could stick in something and I didn't. I realized to just follow the car and not try to pass them. There was not too much passing at the end unless you screwed up and I about screwed up there."
Saldana has been the model of consistency over the last month-and-a-half, with 18 consecutive finishes in the Top-10, with 12 of those being Top-Five finishes. With the Gold Cup Race of Champions being an event that had a split field for qualifying, each driver received 75 show-up points on their qualifying night and another 75 points for the finale on Saturday night. Thus, Saldana continues to trail Donny Schatz by 19 markers in the World of Outlaws championship standings with 14 races left on the schedule.
"You can't take away from what my team has been doing this year," said Saldana of his second-year team. "They have been doing a great job. We've been working hard. If we can keep that up the rest of the year will be good."
Haudenschild finished second in the Gold Cup for the second consecutive year. He lined up eighth for the 40-lap event and gained a couple of spots on the opening lap, passing Tim Shaffer and Brooke Tatnell. On the 14th lap, he got around Brad Sweet to move into the Top-Five, before staging the entertaining battle with Kinser and Swindell, reminiscent of years gone by.
"The car felt good and was working good everywhere," said Haudenschild, driver of the Wright One Construction Maxim. "Joey (Saldana) has been running good lately and he's the guy to beat right now. We ended up second and we're glad with that."
Sweet, who finished third on Thursday night on the first qualifying night lined up third and ran in the Top-Five all night long in the finale. He fell back to fifth on the second lap, before battling with 20-time World of Outlaws Champion Steve Kinser, as well as Haudenschild and Sammy Swindell.
"It's kind of a dream come true," said Sweet, driver of the GP Development Maxim. "I have always wanted to go winged racing full-time and be an Outlaw guy. Maybe if I keep getting good runs like this something will happen. We're really happy with the weekend and how everything went. Once again the car was pretty close. It was a little loose at the beginning and it came on later in the race."
Swindell, competing in his first Gold Cup in four year finished fourth on Saturday night, driving for California native Rod Fauver.
"We had a real good weekend," said Swindell. "Rod (Fauver) and the guys did a real good job. We had no problems the entire weekend and nothing missed a beat. The car is perfectly straight and ready to go."
Prior to the red flag on the 21st lap, Haudenschild was on the move as he used every inch of the race track, as he searched for his third A-Feature win of the season. The fan favorite has always run good at Silver Dollar Speedway.
"We didn't change too much during the red (flag)," said the native of Wooster, Ohio. "We mostly left the car the same. We like the short tracks. You can race all over on them and in traffic. This is a good track."
Sweet has only run a couple of events this season with the World of Outlaws, but has competed a number of times in a non-wing sprint car and enjoys every time he gets to race with the wing on. Earlier this season he was the Rookie of the Year with the series at the Florida DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park.
"There is a huge difference between the two, but they also compliment each other," explained the versatile driver. "You learn a lot from both. It's cool to run well in USAC (United States Auto Club) races and in these winged races."
After finishing second on Thursday night, Swindell was confident heading into the finale of the Gold Cup, though he warned that if the track changed significantly on Saturday night, that it would be a challenge for him and his team.
"What hurt us tonight was running on a completely different track than we did the other night," said the former Gold Cup winner. "We just didn't have the experience. This was the first weekend that I ran the spec right rear (tire). We were close though and just didn't quite have the car right."
Swindell started fourth and gained two spots on the opening lap, as he tried to keep pace with Saldana who was setting a blistering pace early in the event. He battled Kinser and Haudenschild for a number of laps.
"I wasn't aggressive enough on the tire," said the native of Germantown, Tennessee. "After the red (flag) I looked at it and it looked brand new. I was being too easy on it and sealed it up. That is where we dropped back. We had made a couple of changes (under the red flag) and they weren't quite the right ones, but we were able to keep pace with the guys."
Donny Schatz, the reigning World of Outlaws champion started 16th and finished fifth in the ParkerStore J&J to earn the KSE Race Products Hard Charger Award.
Tim Shaffer was sixth in the Casey's General Store Maxim, with Jason Meyers seventh in the Primerica Financial Maxim. Terry McCarl was eighth in the Big Game Treestands Eagle, with Brooke Tatnell ninth in the Volcano Joe's Coffee Schnee. Jonanthan Allard, who led all 30 laps of the preliminary feature on Thursday night to earn his first World of Outlaws win, was 10th in the GT Trends Maxim.
Tim Kaeding, who won earlier this season with the World of Outlaws, thrilled the home state crowd, as he won the C-Main and charged from the last starting position in the B-Main to earn the final transfer spot to the Gold Cup coming off the fourth turn on the very last lap.
The finale of the 54th Annual Gold Cup Race of Champions can be seen on SPEED on Sunday, September 23 at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, 12:30 p.m. Central.
The World of Outlaws return to action on Wednesday, September 12 as they make their inaugural visit to Clay County Speedway in Spencer, Iowa, as part of the renowned Clay County Fair.
GOLD CUP RACE OF CHAMPIONS NIGHT #3 NOTEBOOK
* SPECIAL SALUTE: The finale of the 54th Annual Gold Cup Race of Champions began with Joey Saldana leading the field in the Missing Man Formation prior to the traditional Four Wide Salute to the fans, in honor of the late Ted Johnson, founder of the World of Outlaws who attended the Gold Cup Race of Champions last season.
* TAKING HOME SOME HARDWARE: Greg DeCaires of Elk Grove, California earned the "Best Looking Car" Award at the Gold Cup. The award was sponsored by SprintCar Pr.com and was voted on by the fans throughout the four-day event. DeCaires earned $200 for the honor, along with a trophy from Duane Davis of Laser Engraving located in Iowa.
* FAST QUALIFIER: The field for Saturday's night's events was set by accumulated points during the first two nights of the Gold Cup. Joey Saldana and Jonathan Allard were tied for the point's lead after the two qualifying nights, with the tie breaker being time trials positions, which earned Saldana the pole.
* QUALIFYING WINNERS: Cody Meyers won the F-Main...Kevin Pylant won the E-Main... Zack West won the D-Main... Tim Kaeding won the C-Main... Colby Wiesz won the B-Main.
* UP NEXT: The series inaugural visit to Clay County Speedway in Spencer, Iowa on Wednesday, August 12
* UPCOMING EVENTS: The World of Outlaws return to Heartland Park Topeka on Friday, August 14, followed by a return to Charter Raceway Park in Wisconsin on Sunday, September, 16 for an event that was postponed by rain last month.
World of Outlaws Statistical Report; Gold Cup Race of Champions Night #3; Chico, CA; Sept. 8, 2007
F Main (10 laps, top 2 finishers transferred to E Main)
1) 9M Cody Myers
2) 87 Mike Mossi
3) 29K Josh Keheley [$75]
4) 36N Mark Tabor Sr. [$50]
5) 55 Brandon Carey [$50]
6) 35JR Ricky Wright Jr. [$50]
7) 25 Brian Boswell [$50]
8) 87S Tony Silveria [$50]
9) 3C Bill Cornwell [$50]
10) 50S David Silveria [$50]
E-Main (10 laps, top 2 finishers transferred to D Main)
1) 73 Kevin Pylant
2) 24M Matt Petty
3) 15X Pat Harvey Jr. [$100]
4) 10X Peter Breshears [$75]
5) 11N Danny Ochs [$50]
6) 10H Dennis Harvey [$50]
7) 56 Shawn Arriaga [$50]
8) Brad Bumgarner [$50]
9) 2B Jeremy Burt [$50]
10) 9M Cody Myers [$50]
11) 28 Jim Marsh [$50]
12) 23 Ken Fredenburg [$50]
13) 4S Dan Simpson [$50]
14) 87 Mike Mossi [$50]
15) 83M Mike Stallings [$50]
16) 7X Eddy Lewis [$50]
D-main (12 laps, top 4 finishers transferred to C-main)
1) 14W-Zack West
2) 26-Tayler Malsam
3) 33T-Jimmy Trulli
4) KR14-Tyler Spath
5) 31-Danny Bullock [$100]
6) 13C-Colton Heath [$75]
7) 38N-Mark Tabor Jr. [$75]
8) 24M-Matt Petty [$50]
9) 20J-James Sweeney [$50]
10) 2M-Zack Mason [$50]
11) 98-Chris Masters [$50]
12) 73-Kevin Pylant [$50]
13) 11D-Jeff Delte [$50]
14) 1K-Herman Klein [$50]
15) 82-Robbie Whitchurch [$50]
16) 6W-Mark Workentine [$50]
C-main (15 laps, top 2 finishers transferred to B-main)
1) 10-Tim Kaeding [$25]
2) 83B-Robert Ballou [$25]
3) 11H-Kerry Madsen [$300]
4) 18T-Tony Bruce Jr. [$250]
5) 33T-Jimmy Trulli [$200]
6) 26-Tayler Malsam [$175]
7) 27-Brett Rollag [$150]
8) 22-Mason Moore [$125]
9) KR14-Tyler Spath [$100]
10) 44-Matt Shelton [$100]
11) 14W-Zack West [$100]
12) 1XM-Brett Miller [$100]
13) 83V-Kyle Larson [$100]
14) 6M-Jon Maiwald [$100]
15) D1-Justin Henderson [$100]
16) 16X-Andy Gregg [$100]
B-main (20 laps, top 4 finishers transferred to A-feature)
1) X1-Colby Wiesz [$25]
2) 69-Brent Kaeding [$25]
3) 83-Danny Lasoski [$25]
4) 10-Tim Kaeding [$25]
5) 1X-Randy Hannagan [$500]
6) 1M-Stephen Allard [$450]
7) 7S-Jason Sides [$400]
8) 1-Ronnie Day [$350]
9) OO-Jason Statler [$300]
10) 5C-Chad Hillier [$250]
11) 49-Mike Monahan [$225]
12) 8K-Chad Kemenah [$200]
13) 5H-Barry Martinez [$175]
14) 3D-Carl Droivold [$150]
15) 1A-Dan Menne [$150]
16) 57-Shane Golobic [$150]
17) 35M-Sean Becker [$150]
18) 83B-Robert Ballou [$150]
A-main (40 laps) - Starting Position [#]
1) 9-Joey Saldana [$50,000]
2) 35-Jac Haudenschild [$11,000]
3) 6S-Brad Sweet [$5,500]
4) 64-Sammy Swindell [$4,700]
5) 15-Donny Schatz [$4,000]
6) 6-Tim Shaffer [$3,200]
7) 14-Jason Meyers [$3,000]
8) 24-Terry McCarl [$2,500]
9) 2-Brooke Tatnell [$2,200]
10) O-Jonathan Allard [$2,100]
11) 83-Danny Lasoski [$2,025]
12) 21-Daryn Pittman [$2,000]
13) 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr. [$1,500]
14) 7-Craig Dollansky [$1,400]
15) 20-Paul McMahan [$1,200]
16) R19-Jason Solwold [$1,100]
17) 10C-Jeremy Campbell [$1,050]
18) X1-Colby Wiesz [$800]
19) 69-Brent Kaeding [$800]
20) 33E-Evan Suggs [$800]
21) 6R-Mike Henry [$800]
22) 11-Steve Kinser [$800]
23) 24C-Greg DeCaires [$800]
24) 11H-Kerry Madsen [$800]
25) 10-Tim Kaeding [$800]
Lap Leaders: Joey Saldana 1-40
KSE Hard Charger Award: Donny Schatz
Note: Kerry Madsen used a provisional to start the A-Feature.