'The King' takes Knoxville Nationals opener. KNOXVILLE, IA (August 7) - Joey Saldana came as close to perfection in a preliminary program as any in recent years Wednesday when the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series opened the 42nd Annual Mopar...
'The King' takes Knoxville Nationals opener.
KNOXVILLE, IA (August 7) - Joey Saldana came as close to perfection in a preliminary program as any in recent years Wednesday when the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series opened the 42nd Annual Mopar Parts Knoxville Nationals. Unfortunately for him, the event's winningest driver stole his glory.
Steve Kinser, who Saldana passed for the lead during the seventh lap, regained first place with an inside move in turn two in dense lapped traffic with 1 2/3 laps remaining on his way to claiming the $10,000 first prize.
"I knew I was a little bit faster, but I couldn't stay with him coming off turn two," the 11-time Nationals champion said. "We caught him in a bit of lapped traffic heading into three. That hurt him quite a bit and allowed us to get back by him."
Despite beating Saldana in both the Preliminary Feature and the First Heat Race, Kinser's poor qualifying effort - 11th - left him 15 points behind Saldana after the first preliminary program.
"With the point thing the way it is, if you go out and qualify like we did, it just screws you up for the rest of the week," Kinser said. "We made a nice recovery, winning the heat and the feature. That's the best we could do after messing up in qualifying."
Kinser, like Lance Dewease and Jason Sides, won his heat race from outside the fourth row. Starting next to Dewease on the front row of the 25-lap feature, "The King of the Outlaws" drove his #11 Quaker State Maxim into the lead as flagman Doug Clark waved his green flag. Saldana, who started outside the fourth row, raced into second place during the opening lap, then set his sights on Kinser.
Saldana, who was .4 seconds faster than Kinser in the qualifying session, caught "The King of the Outlaws" during lap five and passed him for the lead deep in the first corner two laps later. Saldana, who finished third in last year's Nationals championship feature, was .6 seconds ahead of Kinser when he entered lapped traffic late in the eighth lap.
Kinser was .5 seconds behind the leader when "B" Feature winner Brian Paulus stopped in turn two with a flat right rear tire eight laps later. Workin' Woody, the Pennzoil World of Outlaw Series' official safety vehicle, towed the #28 Verdelli Farms Maxim off the racing surface when Paulus discovered he had several broken radius rods.
Kinser kept pace with Saldana when the race resumed, then patiently searched for the opportunity to regain the lead. "The King of the Outlaws" raced wheel-to-wheel with Saldana through the first and second corners early in lap 20, but fell two car-lengths behind when they raced into lapped traffic the next time around.
Kinser took the low line through turn two and won a back-straightaway drag race with Saldana midway through the 23rd lap to regain first place. The 16-time Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series champion took the checkered flag with .537 seconds to spare.
"We had the best car tonight; I just screwed up driving it," Saldana said. "When I rolled up on those lapped cars, I got tight and Steve got a run on me. I really didn't know where to go and that cost me the race."
Dewease, representing the Pennsylvania Posse, was pleased to finish in third place.
"We haven't run that great here in years past and we came into this event not running very well, but we found something Monday at Oskaloosa (at the World of Outlaws Gumout Series' Front-Row Challenge event)," Dewease said. "We're gaining on it all the time; we just didn't get the car tight enough for tonight."
Tim Shaffer finished in fourth place, ahead of Craig Dollansky, Daryn Pittman, Paul McMahan, 23rd-starting Jeff Shepard, Brad Furr and Jason Sides.
Defending and two-time Nationals champion Danny Lasoski raced in the final hot-lap session and declared himself ready to race in Thursday's second preliminary program.