Saldana claims $50,000 first prize at Kings Royal. ROSSBURG, OH (July 20) -- Joey Saldana drove the race of his life Saturday at Eldora Speedway to win the event he dreamed of winning for six years. "This is really unbelievable," Saldana said...
Saldana claims $50,000 first prize at Kings Royal.
ROSSBURG, OH (July 20) -- Joey Saldana drove the race of his life Saturday at Eldora Speedway to win the event he dreamed of winning for six years.
"This is really unbelievable," Saldana said after claiming the $50,000 first prize at the 19th Annual Kings Royal. "I was running the Mopar car here the year my friend, Johnny Herrera, won this race, and I thought, 'man, it would really be something if I could get one of those some day.' Tonight, we were able to get it done."
Saldana, who set quick-time and started inside the fifth row, drove his family's #17 Eagle Raceway/HEM Saw Eagle past Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series points leader Danny Lasoski late in the 20th lap en route to his third "A" Feature victory of the season. Ironically, Saldana's Kings Royal victory came six years to the day after Herrera's.
"I apologize for not doing doughnuts like P.J. (Chesson) did (during the Duel in the Dakotas at Red River Valley Speedway), but I'm a lot more mellow person than he is," Saldana said. "I really do appreciate this win tonight."
Speed Channel taped the event for a telecast scheduled for September 5th at 11 p.m. Eastern Time.
Lasoski, who won the Second O'Reilly Auto Parts Dash, passed pole-sitter Kasey Kahne as the green flag fell in the 40-lap main event. Jac Haudenschild and Steve Kinser, who have combined for seven Kings Royal victories, crashed with Paul McMahan in the second corner, however, nullifying the original start.
"The Dude" drove NASCAR Winston Cup star Tony Stewart's #20 J.D Byrider Eagle into the lead as the green flag replaced the red. Shane Stewart and Saldana passed Kahne during the opening lap.
Saldana continued his run to the front the next time around, passing Stewart in the low groove between turns one and two. Saldana was 12 car-lengths behind Lasoski when the leaders entered lapped traffic five laps into the race, but caught him in dense traffic three laps later.
Stewart lost third place early in the 14th lap when he spun to avoid the flipping Phil Gressman. Brian Paulus, who was running fifth, suffered a damaged top wing in the crash.
Defending Kings Royal champion Mark Kinser steered the #5M Mopar Maxim to the lowest point in turn three to pass Kahne for third place soon after the race resumed.
"The Wild Child" crashed with Kenny Jacobs and provisional starter Stevie Smith in the second corner early in lap 16. Donny Schatz, who drove his #15 Parker Stores J&J past 13 cars in the first 16 laps, passed Tim Shaffer and Craig Dollansky to take over sixth place as the green flag replaced the yellow. Schatz passed Paulus deep in turn two the next time around.
Saldana, who caught "The Dude" early in the 20th lap, passed him in the low groove in the third corner and slid in front of him in turn four.
Mark Kinser surrendered third place several seconds later when a flat tire caused him to hit the turn-two retaining wall. Paulus and Greg Hodnett collided trying to avoid Kinser.
Saldana opened a full straightaway advantage within four laps, only to have Lasoski narrow the gap to four car-lengths by lap 29. "The Dude" lined up behind Saldana after Stewart spun in front of them in the second corner two laps later.
Dollansky, who set Eldora Speedway's qualifying standard and won the "A" Feature April 13th, eluded Daryn Pittman early in the 32nd lap and passed Schatz for fourth place one lap later. Dollansky continued his run toward the front with 1 2/3 laps remaining, claiming third place when Kahne bounced off the wall in turn two. Schatz passed the NASCAR Busch Grand National racer for fourth place late in the final lap.
Saldana took the checkered flag as Lasoski raced into the third corner.
"We started off good with quick time, and then I drew a six for the dash (inversion), and that put a lot of good cars back in front of us," Saldana said. "When we ran here in June, I ran over a lapped car and last night I just didn't do a good enough job to get the win. But when I got to second so quickly tonight, I knew I had to take advantage of it, because you don't get opportunities like that all the time. I just put my car up on the high side, because that's what I thought the fans wanted to see, and this race track was great tonight."
Dollansky finished in third place, ahead of Schatz, Kahne, Pittman, Steve Kinser, Sammy Swindell, 19th-starting Chad Kemenah and Tim Shaffer.
The Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series will continue its annual "Month of Money" Tuesday with the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup at Lernerville Speedway and a triple-program event at Williams Grove Speedway Thursday through Saturday.