Patient Saldana Takes O'Reilly Spring Nationals MESQUITE, TX (March 16) -- Joey Saldana managed to steer clear of the mayhem unfolding around him Saturday, then raced away from the field to win his second consecutive "A" Feature at the Pennzoil...
Patient Saldana Takes O'Reilly Spring Nationals
MESQUITE, TX (March 16) -- Joey Saldana managed to steer clear of the mayhem unfolding around him Saturday, then raced away from the field to win his second consecutive "A" Feature at the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series birthplace, Devil's Bowl Speedway.
Saldana, who won the Winter Nationals last October, was gaining on the leaders when Steve Kinser's engine locked and Tyler Walker crashed into a flipping Terry McCarl late in the 21st lap. He beat Craig Dollansky under the checkered flag by 3.286 seconds to claim the $12,000 first prize and the 29th Annual O'Reilly Spring Nationals title.
"I was pretty scared out there," Saldana said in victory lane. "Tyler was working the top in turn four -- that's how he got Steve -- but I was running down on the bottom. When I got to a couple of lapped cars at the end I wanted to go to the top, but I knew my mechanic Davey (Whitworth) would probably fire me if I got passed. So I just kept running the same line and it paid off."
Saldana was .288 seconds off fast-qualifier Danny Lasoski's 125.962-m.p.h. pace in time trials, but he was the fastest through lapped traffic midway through the 35-lap main event. He finished third in the Third Heat Race and fifth in the O'Reilly Auto Parts Dash for the privilege of starting the "A" Feature inside the third row.
Kinser, who has won 10 "A" Features at Devil's Bowl Speedway since the series ran its first race at the semi-banked, ½-mile oval 25 years ago, started the main event on the pole after winning his fourth O'Reilly Auto Parts Dash of the year. Walked raced wheel-to-wheel with him down the front straightaway as the green flag fell in the "A" Feature and passed him high in the second corner, only to have "B" Feature winner Zach Chappell spin and collide with Donny Schatz and Michael Dupuy in turn four late in the opening lap.
"The King of the Outlaws" controlled the second start and led Walker into lapped traffic five laps into the race. Kinser raced through the back-markers with ease and opened a comfortable advantage with a 118.757 lap six laps later. Walker was more than .3 seconds faster than Kinser in five of the next six laps and caught him during lap 17.
After several unsuccessful runs at the lead, Walker drove the #35 C&W Motorsports Eagle past Kinser on the front straightaway late in the 20th lap.
Disaster struck two laps later, however, as Kinser slid over the bank in turn four with a blown engine and McCarl collided with Brooke Tatnell and flipped down the front straightaway. Walker tried to take the high line past McCarl, but hit the retaining wall and McCarl's #24 simultaneously.
Saldana took control of the race after the green flag replaced the red, and had the #17 Eagle Raceway Eagle a half-straightaway advantage within two laps. The 1996 Rookie of the Year entered lapped traffic with 8 ½ laps remaining and coasted to the fifth "A" Feature victory of his career.
"In racing, there's no security," Saldana said. "If it wasn't for Craig Cormack (owner of Eagle Raceway) and Doug Harris of HEM Saw, I couldn't be out here racing. We're planning to run the whole year, but if we start blowing motors or having bad luck I don't know what we'll do. If wasn't for Craig and Doug, we wouldn't be here, so I definitely have to thank them.
"It's too early for me to start thinking about championships. I'm just out here trying to get experience and get better. These guys are the best in the world. Tonight, we got lucky and won one."
Mark Kinser moved into second place in the point standings by finishing in third place. Danny Lasoski finished fourth, ahead of Johnny Herrera, preliminary feature winner Brad Furr, Jason Johnson, 17th-starting Tim Shaffer, P.J. Chesson and Third Heat Race winner Jac Haudenschild.
Like father like son, Kraig Kinser's blown engine cost him second place in the Second Heat Race. He came back to finish second in the "B" Feature and raced into 13th place in the evening's main event, however.
Schatz' Devil's Bowl woes continued as he qualified 26th quick, finished seventh in the Second Heat Race and ninth in the "B" Feature. He used his last provisional of the season to start the "A" Feature and was unable to steer the #15 Parker Stores J&J clear of a crash less than a lap into the race.