Locked and Loaded: Saldana Wins Preliminary Feature at Knoxville Knoxville, IA--June 23, 2006 -- Joey Saldana nearly won a preliminary feature last week at Red River Valley Speedway, and that race was still fresh in his mind on Friday night. The...
Locked and Loaded: Saldana Wins Preliminary Feature at Knoxville
Knoxville, IA--June 23, 2006 -- Joey Saldana nearly won a preliminary feature last week at Red River Valley Speedway, and that race was still fresh in his mind on Friday night. The Brownsburg, Ind native, was determined to show that he was the man to beat on the opening night of The Mediacom World of Outlaws Shoot-Out Presented by Sonic, America's Drive-In, at Knoxville Raceway. .
Saldana powered around early race leader Billy Alley on the tenth lap on Friday night and held off a charging Donny Schatz to pick up his first preliminary feature win of the season and also locked himself into the top starting spot in the dash on Saturday night.
Saldana in the Mopar powered Dodge/Curb Records JEI started in the second spot and stalked Alley for the first half of the race. After looking high, Saldana dove to the low side in turn three and made the pass for the win. Alley in the Minute Man Copy J & J came home in fourth, to lock himself into the dash as well on Saturday night.
"It was a good run and hopefully we can get a good finish tomorrow," said Saldana who team is owned by NASCAR superstar Kasey Kahne.
Saldana's crew has been busy building new cars and working on different combinations as they prepare for some of the biggest events of the year in the next couple weeks. They are using this weekend as a tune-up for when they return in August for the Knoxville Nationals.
"We tried a different motor tonight and that was good," said Saldana. "We are trying some different motors before the Nationals, and this one tonight ran pretty good. We'll probably leave it in for tomorrow and just go through everything. We were a little off on the car. We'll work on it and look to put in a good race tomorrow."
Saldana was pleased to come out on top of a preliminary feature this week, after feeling like he let one slip away last weekend at Red River Valley. He ended up coming home third in that one after being passed by Schatz, and sees the preliminary feature win as a building block for Saturday night.
"At Fargo, I felt like we were pretty good," Saldana said. "We just missed it on the chassis and got beat by (Donny) Schatz Hopefully we can get a good run tomorrow. We'll see how good we are for the Nationals. We'll just see what happens."
Saldana used a couple of cautions to his advantage, as it bunched the field up. He was pleased with how the car ran and where he will start the dash tomorrow. Saldana also learned a few items that will help him Saturday night as well as some of the other half-mile tracks the World of Outlaws race at.
"It was a good run and hopefully we can get a good finish tomorrow," said Saldana. "It seemed like I was a little tight early. I wanted to be on top and he (Alley) was taking that line. Once my car started freeing up, I ran the bottom. He never really the tried the bottom and that is where I passed him. At this place, you have to watch it. When your car frees up, the bottom is usually faster and helps you keep up. You can get a run on a guy. I've that because I've been beat here many times. "
Schatz in the Parker Stores J & J worked his way up to second after starting in the eighth spot. Schatz worked high and low and passed cars at will as he put himself into the second starting spot in the dash for the finale on Saturday.
The current series point leader had one goal in mind for the night, and that was to get locked into the dash for Saturday evening. He did that easily and also showed that he will be one of the contenders come Saturday night's finale.
"I'm happy with everything," said Schatz. "We need just need to come back tomorrow and get it done."
Schatz will start on the outside of the front row in Saturday night's dash, and used the high side a good deal on Friday night as he sliced his way through the front of the field. Look for Schatz and Saldana to stage another epic battle on Saturday night in the dash as they line up side by side.
"I think we may have been a bit faster, but we were playing it a little cautious to not get too tight," said Schatz. "We're locked in and at the front of the dash and that is really all we wanted to do. It was a big test session tonight. We started the night second quick and ended right where we wanted to be for tomorrow."
Schatz had one close call on the night as he was attempting to pass Alley for the second spot, when the two cars got together. Schatz a veteran of 10 seasons with the World of Outlaws was able to gather it back up, regroup, and charge past Alley to set his sights on Saldana.
"We had a little episode with another car trying to get through there and got together," said Schatz. "I don't know what that was all about. It caught us back a bit and we had to catch back up."
Schatz did everything he could to track down Saldana, once he got into the second spot. Fresh off a sweep last weekend at the Duel in the Dakotas, he put himself in prime position for Saturday night as he searches for his seventh A-feature win of the season.
"I would not look at it as laps, but rather we needed lapped traffic," said Schatz. "You catch a car length a lap, but if he is 30 car lengths ahead, it is pretty tough to catch him. Lapped traffic is where the races are won and lost. They have good race cars and things going in the right direction. Our race cars are just so good, and we just need to be able to race with them. "
Brooke Tatnell in the Race Outfitters/Castrol Eagle secured a guaranteed starting spot in Saturday's dash by coming home third in the preliminary feature, after lining up eighth. The native of San Souci NSW Australia, passed three cars in the first two laps of the race, before picking off a couple more with just a few laps to go.
"It is good to be starting up front," said Tatnell. "You still have to be on your 'A-game' tomorrow, because you won't be on the track as much. We'll definitely take it. We've been fast."
Tatnell used a couple of cautions to his advantage as got great restarts all night long. On Saturday night, he will look for his third A-Feature win of the season to back up his victories at Huset's Speedway and Orange County Fair Speedway.
"They help and they hurt you," Tatnell said. "We gained a spot on a restart. We had a very good car tonight."
Tatnell who always has one of the best looking cars in the pit area, is use to sporting a black car, but his team broke out a white car on Friday night, with red stripes across the middle of the top wing and front wing.
"The car owner wanted a retro look, so we gave him a retro finish," said a smiling Tatnell.
Alley had a bitter sweet night after leading the first half of the preliminary feature. He was excited to be locked in for the dash on Saturday night, but also pondered, what could have been.
"It's a heartbreaker," Alley said. "I have been running 410 sprint cars for a few years now. The last three years off and on. To lead a race like that, makes you want to take it all the way. That's a race I wish would have gone green to checker in clean air. That's part of the game and hopefully we can build on this, and continue getting more confident."
Alley may still be young and learning the intricacies of racing 410-sprint cars, but he showed he can compete with the best of the best, as he held off all challengers in the dash to pick up the win and earn the top starting spot in the preliminary feature.
"This is a new team for me," said Alley. "We haven't even raced 20 times together yet. We will build in this, that's for sure."
Despite wanting to be in victory lane at the end of the night, Alley knew that the main goal was to get locked into the dash for Saturday night, and learn about the car and what adjustments the team would need to make so that he could be even faster in the finale of The Mediacom World of Outlaws Shoot-Out Presented by Sonic, America's Drive-In.
"I made a couple mistakes during the late cautions, and if you make a mistake they drive by you," said Alley. "We can definitely build on it and make a couple of changes. Hopefully tomorrow we can be sitting up there."
Jason Solwold, who set fast time, in the City Wide Insulation Maxim rounded out the top-five. Randy Hannagan in the Penthouse Magazine Maxim was sixth.
The rest of the top-10 was Danny Lasoski charging to 7th in the Roth Motorsports Eagle, after transferring to the preliminary feature by finishing second in the B-Main. He lined up for the 20 lapper in the 23rd spot, after two engine changes on the night.
Jac Haudenschild was 8th in the Wright One Construction Maxim, after starting 17th. Kerry Madsen started 21st and finished 9th in the Tulip City Agency Cool, with Justin Henderson rounding out the Top-10 in the Jolt Energy Gum Schnee.
KNOXVILLE RACEWAY NOTEBOOK
* FAST QUALIFIER: Jason Solwold paced the 46 cars in time trials with a lap around the half-mile high-banked oval at 14.973 seconds. Because The Mediacom World of Outlaws Shoot-Out Presented By Sonic, America's Drive-In, is a multi-day show with varying championship point totals on each night, no qualifying bonus points are awarded. Brooke Tatnell holds the track record of 14.407 seconds established on May 6, 2006.
* QUALIFYING-EVENT WINNERS: Heat race winners included Tyler Walker, as well as Kevin Swindell, Calvin Landis, and Tim St. Arnold. ... Billy Alley picked up the win in the dash. ...Dusty Zomer won the C-Main. ... Brian Brown won the B-Main.
* MAIN EVENT WINNERS: There have been 13 different winners in 24 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, and June 18 at Red River Valley Speedway), Jac Haudenschild (May 6 at U.S. 36 Raceway, May 20 at Sharon Speedway and June 14 at The Raceway @ Powercom Park), Joey Saldana (Feb. 10 at Volusia and June 4 at Terre Haute), Sammy Swindell (April 8 at Eldora Speedway and March 10 at the Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway), Brooke Tatnell (May 7 at Huset's Speedway and May 29 at Orange County Fair Speedway), Fred Rahmer (May 27 at Williams Grove), Craig Dollansky (April 15 at Tri-State Speedway), Paul McMahan (March 4 at USA Race Park), Danny Lasoski (March 3 at Manzanita), Chad Kemenah (Feb. 9 at Volusia), Kevin Swindell (May 24 at The Dirt Track at Lowe's Motor Speedway) and Dean Jacobs (May 31 at Lernerville Speedway) and Daryn Pittman (June 10 at Eagle Raceway).
* PRELIMINARY FEATURE WINNERS: Joey Saldana's victory on Friday night at Knoxville Raceway was his first preliminary feature win of the season. He joined 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 and Sammy Swindell, who won the prelim feature on April 7 at Eldora Speedway, and Daryn Pittman who won the prelim night at Eagle Raceway on June 9.
* HALF-MILE WINNERS: Knoxville Raceway is a semi-banked, half-mile oval. The World of Outlaws Sprint Series has now raced 12 times this season on half-mile ovals, including preliminary features. Winners include: Joey Saldana (Volusia, Terre Haute, and Knoxville), Donny Schatz (Las Vegas and twice at Red River Valley), Chad Kemenah (Volusia), Danny Lasoski (Manzanita), Craig Dollansky (Eldora), and Sammy Swindell (Las Vegas and twice at Eldora Speedway twice).
* ON TELEVISION: The Outdoor Channel will air at 8 p.m. (ET) on June 28 the finale from the Eagle Nationals at Eagle Raceway that ran on June 17. The Outdoor Channel is available nationwide through the DISH Network (Channel 153) and DIRECTV (Channel 606).