Fit to be King: Haudenschild and Saldana Each Seek Another Kings Royal Win New Weston, OH--July 12, 2006 -- Winning the Kings Royal Presented by Crown Royal, once is a massive undertaking in itself, let along winning it a trio of times.
Fit to be King: Haudenschild and Saldana Each Seek Another Kings Royal Win
New Weston, OH--July 12, 2006 -- Winning the Kings Royal Presented by Crown Royal, once is a massive undertaking in itself, let along winning it a trio of times. That's exactly what Jac Haudenschild has done. His first time wearing the crown was in 1987, he followed that up with a triumph in 1994, and his more recent win in the event was in 1998. This weekend he will look to make it number four as he and the rest of the World of Outlaws roll into the famed Eldora Speedway.
Haudenschild piloting the Wright One Construction Maxim, is not the only member of the Mean 15 that has won the prestigious race. Joey Saldana won the event in 2002, and returns this year second in World of Outlaws points driving the Dodge Mopar-powered/Curb Records JEI.
This will be the 23rd Annual Kings Royal Presented by Crown Royal, and the victor at the end of the night on Saturday will walk away with a handsome $50,000 check, and more importantly bragging rights.
The large purse is part of what makes the event so special, but even more so is the aura and history of it. The winners list is a 'Who's Who' of the sprint car racing world. Many drivers say that if they can only win one race in their career, it would be Kings Royal Presented by Crown Royal at Eldora.
"Anytime you can win a big race like that, it sticks in your mind forever," said Haudenschild, of Wooster, Ohio. "We're just hoping to do it again. It has a big purse and that always makes everyone happy. We're just hoping to get a good run in."
Haudenschild enters the race with plenty of momentum. He is currently fourth in World of Outlaws championship points on the strength of four wins and 14 top-five finishes. He won a thrilling race at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway last Friday after bicycling on the first lap and falling back to the 10th spot, to rally on the last lap and to a three-wide pass for the win. Always known for his aggressive style on the track that has earned him the name, "The Wild Child," Haudenschild knows Eldora Speedway like the back of his hand and always enjoys running around the rim right against the wall.
Saldana, the 1996 series rookie of the year, who has 15 top-five finishes this season, knows that winning any race at Eldora is tough, let alone the biggest event of the year at the legendary and always fast half-mile. His win in the Kings Royal Presented by Crown Royal in 2002, seems like yesterday to him, as he remembers every vivid detail.
"My win in the Kings Royal will always stick out in my mind," said Saldana. "Hopefully it does for the people that watched it as well. The night I won it, the track did not lay rubber, and I started ninth and won. I felt like we did a good job. Hopefully this year, it's a race that not only I, but other people appreciate."
The Brownsburg, Ind. native would not mind holding the big check in RacinSoles Victory Lane on Saturday night, but knows he will not only battle the 23 other competitors, but also the always tough and grueling track conditions. He is confident that his Willie Kahne led crew has found a couple of things in the last few weeks to make the car even faster, and withstand the grind of Eldora.
"The money is great, but winning the race is huge," Saldana said. "Ten more laps at Eldora is huge. It would be like going from a 50 to a 100-lapper. It just seems like during 10 extra laps at Eldora, the equipment takes a lot of wear and tear and so do the drivers too. Anytime you can win a race like that, it is huge."
Like all the other drivers, Haudenschild acknowledges how important qualifying will be on the blazing fast half-mile. With a large car count expected every lap turned on the track will be vital to learning what the perfect set-up will be to make it into the A-Feature on Saturday night.
"It's always been a big race," said Haudesnchild. "There will be a lot of cars there this year and a full house. It should be a pretty good track and race."
Saldana and Hadenschild both have raced at the track three times this season already with the World of Outlaws, including a preliminary feature. On June 3, Haudenschild finished fifth in the A-Feature after making his way through the B-Main. He had the crowd on their feet, as he seemingly passed cars at will, as he rode the high side of the track kissing the wall more times than he can remember. He also finished fourth on April 8, on a cold blustery evening.
"We always like running there," said Haudenschild. "The track is wide and fast to race on. We're looking forward to it. We've run there a few times this year and did pretty well over there. I think we'll be all right when we get back there."
Saldana who has won four races this year, finished fifth in the A-Feature on April 8, after finishing fifth the night before in the Preliminary Feature. Last time at Eldora though, he had some trouble not of his own making that made for a long and frustrating night.
"I feel like the last race we were at Eldora we were really strong," said Saldana. "We ran over some debris and cut a tire, but as a team, we were as good as anyone. Hopefully we can go back and duplicate that performance."
For whoever wins on Saturday night, there is one thing that is certain, they will have earned it and, they will wear the crown and robe, as well as stand triumphantly over their court in RacinSoles Victory Lane, with the scepter in their hands.
For ticket information on the Knight before the Kings Royal visit www.eldoraspeedway.com or call 937-338-3815. On Friday, tickets will be $25 for those ages 16-over, while ages 12-15 are just $12, and kids 11-under are only $6.On Saturday, tickets for those 16-over will be $30, with ages 12-15 $20, and kids 11-under are $10.