Surge for Seven: Saldana Wins at Eldora for 7th Win of 2006 New Weston, Ohio-August 4, 2006 -- Seven is often looked at as a lucky number, but on Friday night, two was the lucky number for Joey Saldana, as he sought his seventh win of the year....
Surge for Seven: Saldana Wins at Eldora for 7th Win of 2006
New Weston, Ohio-August 4, 2006 -- Seven is often looked at as a lucky number, but on Friday night, two was the lucky number for Joey Saldana, as he sought his seventh win of the year. He led two laps on the night, but they were the two most important ones. Also, he won for the second time at Eldora Speedway this season. On top of that, he made it two wins in a row, when his car owner, NASCAR star Kasey Kahne, has been in attendance.
Saldana saved his best for last, as he powered around Donny Schatz in traffic with just two laps to go in the 30-lap event that pit the World of Outlaws Sprint Series against the All Star Circuit of Champions.
Saldana piloting the Mopar-powered Dodge/Curb Records JEI started on the pole of the A-Feature to earn the trip to RacinSoles Victory Lane.
"That was huge for us," Saldana said. "We've had some problems with traffic where Donny (Schatz) has beaten us. It's pretty nice to finally get something back in return. Lapped traffic worked good for me tonight. There has been times this year when traffic has worked bad for me. We had a good car. We put a little harder of a tire on because we thought it would lay rubber, so that may have hurt us some. All in all, it was a very good night for us."
Schatz in the ParkerStore J&J led 17 laps on the night, the most of the three drivers that took turns at the front, as he came home in the runner-up spot. The current championship point leader, earned bonus points for being the fast qualifier and also for leading the most laps in the A-Feature, and thus extended his lead over Saldana.
Craig Dollansky who won twice at Eldora this season came home in the third spot aboard the Karavan Trailers Maxim. Brooke Tatnell in the Race Outfitters Eagle was fourth, with Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award Presented by Maxim Racing and ButlerBuilt leader Chad Kemenah just behind him in the RacinSoles.com/Underground Utility Inc. Eagle.
Saldana started on the pole, but ran in the second spot behind Paul McMahan in the Bass Pro Shops Eagle for the first 11 laps of the race. He then fell back to third after Schatz got around a third of the way through the race.
Saldana and McMahan were battling for the second spot in turns three and four halfway through the race, when they made contact that resulted in McMahan getting upside down. He climbed from his car and walked away, but his night was over. Saldana restarted the race in the second spot and bided his time as he trailed Schatz.
"I never tried to run in the middle because usually when I do that, I lose my right rear tire," Saldana said. "The longer the race got, I knew he (Schatz) would get slower because he was not running against the fence in turns three and four. That's where I was gaining so much momentum on top. He was running so low going into (turn) three that it was scrubbing speed. I knew sooner or later I could get him. It was just getting to a lapped car and have him have to move his car. It happened with only a couple laps to go."
Schatz who started the feature in sixth was one of the fastest cars on the track all night long. He quickly worked his way into fourth at the drop of the green flag. He then shadowed Saldana and looked low on the 9th lap, as well as the 10th lap, but could not quite make it stick. On the following circuit, he powered his way under Saldana and quickly closed on McMahan. On lap 12, Schatz dove under McMahan and took the lead in traffic. A late restarted bunched the field up and gave Saldana the chance he needed to challenge Schatz.
"It's not where we want to be (second place), but we get better every time we come here," said Schatz. "I just made a mistake and misjudged lap traffic a little bit. I probably should have blasted around the top and not got myself hung out. On the last yellow, I didn't think anyone was close, and kind of played it cautious and it bit me."
Schatz began the night by turning in the fastest qualifying effort of the 33 cars on hand. Though he was disappointed not to win, he found some relief in the fact that the teams is turning in superb qualifying efforts at the time of the year, when they are most important.
"Our whole qualifying program has been good all year long," said Schatz. "We got to a point where sometimes quick time was not where you wanted to go. This time of the year, you have to be on your qualifying game. Next week is the biggest race and qualifying is everything there. We wanted to make sure we gave it our all, and it was good enough to get us a fast qualifier tonight. We hope we have that same thing next Wednesday night."
Saldana had his mind made up from the outset of the race that he would hug the wall, and a couple times he came very close to rubbing it as he got everything out of his car. The one time he came off the high side, was to go underneath Schatz and a lapped car for the lead, but quickly got back up to the high side of the track for the last lap and a half of the race.
"My car wasn't good enough to come off the top," said Saldana. "It seemed like the car was laying left a little too much. My thing was to get on the cushion and go, and it paid off."
For those keeping score Saldana now has 7 World of Outlaws Sprint Series wins this season, while his car owner Kahne has five in NASCAR's top two divisions. The pair was able to laugh in RacinSoles Victory Lane on Friday night, and joke about who would win more races this season.
"His wins pay a hell of a lot more than mine do," Saldana said smiling. "It is very cool to drive for him. He has definitely changed my racing career, so hopefully we can keep this up."
Kahne, who made the trip to the Eldora after practicing in the afternoon for Sunday's NASCAR event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, was glad he spent his Friday night at one of his favorite tracks.
"It feels really good," said Kahne. "When I come and watch him, he does an awesome job at this race track. I think Donny (Schatz) may have been a little better, but he got bound up in lap traffic and Joey took advantage of it. Joey did a great job and the guys did a great job giving him a good race car."
Craig Dollansky badly wanted to win for the third time this season at the wicked fast half-mile where he holds the track qualifying record, but the Elk River, Minn. native was pleased with another solid top-five effort, as he came home third.
"It was a good run," said Dollansky. "We definitely would have liked to have gotten the win. I got pretty tight. I was tight from the beginning of the race and I was tight at the end of the race. We got ourselves a little too far that way after the dash. To come out of here with a third, considering where we started at the beginning of the night, I'll take it and get ready for tomorrow night."
Dollansky had a spirited battle with Tatnell for the fourth spot, and with about 10 laps to go, got around him as he kept Saldana and Schatz in his sight.
"Traffic really worked into our favor," Dollansky said. "After the red flag, I felt pretty good about things. I was able to find a way where I was able to work the car a little bit better. Traffic wasn?t hurting us, and it was a pretty good racetrack."
For Dollansky, it was his 21st top-five finish of the season. He wrapped up the season at Eldora, by finishing in the Top-10 every single race, including his two wins. As much as he wanted the hat trick of wins at the track, he knew that bringing the car home in one piece was the bigger goal on Friday night.
"It was hard for us to make any ground on the leaders late, with how tight we were," Dollansky said. "We were there, but just could not maneuver the way we needed to."
Tatnell turned in a very solid run coming home in fourth after staging some exciting battles with Dollansky and Schatz early in the race.
Kemenah was pleased with his second straight top-five finish at Eldora. He heads to K-C Raceway on Saturday night, a track he knows very well and has won at in the past, with plenty of momentum.
The rest of the top10 was: Daryn Pittman in 6th in the Titan Garage & Carports Maxim, Jac Haudenschild was 7th in the Wright One Construction Maxim, Dale Blaney was the top finishing driver representing the All Stars, in the George Fisher Racing Maxim, as he was 8th, after starting scratch on the field, with Terry McCarl in the Big Game Treestands Eagle coming home 9th.
Becca Anderson in the Upstate Kenworth Maxim came home 10th for her second straight top-10 run. She also qualified in the top-five for the second consecutive race.
The World of Outlaws Sprint Series invades K-C Raceway on Saturday night.
ELDORA SPEEDWAY NOTEBOOK
* FAST QUALIFIER: Donny Schatz paced the 33 cars in time trials with an AMB i.t.-timed lapped around the half-mile high-banked oval at 13.357 seconds at 134.761 mph. For his qualifying effort, Schatz earned five bonus points. The next four fastest qualifiers also earned bonus points, including: Daryn Pittman (4), Joey Saldana (3), Becca Anderson (2), and Paul McMahan (1). Craig Dollansky holds the track record of 12.707 seconds set on April 13, 2002.
* QUALIFYING EVENT WINNERS: Heat race winners included: Rob Chaney, Bill Rose, Neil Shepherd, and Greg Wilson. Jac Haudenschild won the B-Main. Joey Saldana picked up the win in the dash.
* FEATURE WINNERS: There have been 14 different winners in 40 A-feature events to visit the RacinSoles Victory Lane with the World of Outlaws this season. The win list includes: Donny Schatz (March 9 at The Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway, March 31 at Batesville Speedway, April 1 at I-55 Raceway, May 16 at Grandview Speedway, May 30 at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park, June 18 at Red River Valley Speedway, June 30 at 81 Speedway, July 18 at Lernerville Speedway, July 23 at Lebanon Valley Speedway, and July 25 at Fulton Speedway), Joey Saldana (Feb.10 at Volusia, June 4 at Terre Haute, June 23 at Knoxville Raceway, July 1 at Dodge City Raceway Park, July 13 at Limaland Motorsports Park, July 15 at Eldora Speedway, and August 4 at Eldora Speedway), Jac Haudenschild (May 6 at U.S. 36 Raceway, May 20 at Sharon Speedway, June 14 at The Raceway @ Powercom Park, and July 7 at Lawrenceburg Speedway), Craig Dollansky (April 15 at Tri-State Speedway, June 4 at Eldora Speedway, July 14 at Eldora Speedway, and Aug. 2 at Butler Speedway), Daryn Pittman (June 10 at Eagle Raceway, July 22 at Williams Grove, and July 29 at Princeton Speedway), Brooke Tatnell (May 7 at Huset?s Speedway, May 29 at Orange County Fair Speedway, and July 8 at I-55 Raceway), Sammy Swindell (April 8 at Eldora Speedway and March 10 at the Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway), Dean Jacobs (May 31 at Lernerville Speedway), Chad Kemenah (Feb. 9 at Volusia), Danny Lasoski (March 3 at Manzanita), Terry McCarl (July 3 at Huset?s Speedway), Paul McMahan (March 4 at USA Race Park), Fred Rahmer (May 27 at Williams Grove), and Kevin Swindell (May 24 at The Dirt at Lowe?s Motor Speedway).
* PRELIMINARY FEATURE WINNERS: There have been seven preliminary features run this season by the World of Outlaws. The winners list includes: Daryn Pittman who won the prelim night at Eagle Raceway on June 9, and at Princeton Speedway on July 28, Donny Schatz who won the prelim night June 17 at Red River Valley, Fred Rahmer, who won the prelim night on May 26 at Williams Grove Speedway Sammy Swindell, who won the prelim night on April 7 at Eldora Speedway, Terry McCarl who won the prelim night at Williams Grove on July 20, and Craig Dollansky who won the prelim night at Williams Grove on July 21.
* HALF-MILE WINNERS: Eldora Speedway is a high-banked half-mile oval. The World of Outlaws Sprint Series has now raced 19 times this season on half-mile tracks, including preliminary features. Winners include: Joey Saldana (Volusia, Terre Haute, Knoxville, and twice at Eldora), Donny Schatz (Las Vegas, twice at Red River Valley, and Lebanon Valley), Chad Kemenah (Volusia), Danny Lasoski (Manzanita), Craig Dollansky (Twice at Eldora and Williams Grove), Sammy Swindell (Las Vegas and twice at Eldora Speedway), Terry McCarl (Williams Grove), and Daryn Pittman (Williams Grove).
* ON TELEVISION: The Outdoor Channel will air at 8 p.m. (ET) on August 9 the 15th Annual Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup from Lernerville Speedway. The Outdoor Channel is available nationwide through the DISH Network (Channel 153) and DIRECTV (Channel 606).