Late Pass Gives Saldana Duel in the Dakotas Opener WEST FARGO, ND (July 8) -- Joey Saldana executed a daring pass for the lead with 1Â½ laps remaining to rob Loren Langerud of a stunning upset Thursday when the World of Outlaws Sprint Series ...
Late Pass Gives Saldana Duel in the Dakotas Opener
WEST FARGO, ND (July 8) -- Joey Saldana executed a daring pass for the lead with 1½ laps remaining to rob Loren Langerud of a stunning upset Thursday when the World of Outlaws Sprint Series opened the Seventh Annual Duel in the Dakotas at Red River Valley Speedway.
Langerud, who leads the Red River Valley and Wissota 360 point standings, led laps 3-23 before Saldana drove the #2 Volcano Joe's Coffee Maxim past him on the back straightaway. Saldana took the checkered flag five car-lengths ahead of Langerud to claim the $5,000 first prize.
"He was fast," Saldana said of Langerud. "He definitely made me work for it. Actually, when Mark (Kinser) got the lead, I figured he would just check out because he was so good in the (Second) Dash. He must have been too tight; he couldn't run on the bottom.
"Winning here helps make up for Knoxville (the NAPA Classic). At Knoxville, I thought we definitely had the car to beat. We led 34 of 40 laps and ran out of fuel. We just had a miscalculation there. Hopefully, we can win some more and make up for that $20,000 loss.
"Fargo is definitely a good place to pick up some good money. I was talking to Mark Kinser the other day, and he said he's always struggled here but he's also won a race here. It's definitely a tough track to get used to. It's big and fast. We only run here once a year, so it's not like you can go from your notes. I've only raced here four times. I'm just glad we won."
Saldana knows how Langerud would have felt had he led the final two laps. As a 23-year-old youngster, Joey beat the World of Outlaws Sprint Series regulars at I-96 Speedway on July 24, 1995, the year before he received the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year award.
Saldana's second Preliminary Feature victory of the season pushed him into a seventh-place tie with Daryn Pittman in the World of Outlaws Sprint Series point standings.
Two rain delays were unable to keep the classic battle from unfolding in front of the capacity crowd.
Langerud, who also raced in Thursday's 360-class event, won the First Dash Race for the privilege of starting the 25-lap feature on the pole. Kinser drove the #83 Beef Packers Maxim into the lead as the green flag fell in the evening's main event, and opened a six-car-length advantage by the end of the opening lap.
Langerud raced wheel-to-wheel with the two-time World of Outlaws Sprint Series champion early in the second lap, then found a patch of moisture to pull a slide job for the lead the next time around. Jac Haudenschild lost ninth place when he spun in the fourth corner a split-second after the leaders completed the fourth lap. Brooke Tatnell, Saldana, Craig Dollansky and fast qualifier Danny Lasoski passed Kinser within four laps after the race resumed.
Langerud was 12 car-lengths ahead of Tatnell -- the only Australian driver to win a World of Outlaws Sprint Series main event -- when First Heat Race winner Jason Meyers spun in turn four late in the eighth lap. Saldana rode the rim around Tatnell between the first and second corners as the green flag replaced the yellow.
Langerud was 10 car-lengths ahead of Saldana when he entered lapped traffic during lap 16. Joey caught the leader two laps later, but fell 12 car-lengths behind when Langerud raced past Chuck Swenson late in lap 20.
Langerud's #56 Miller Genuine Draft J&J was stronger in turns one and two, but Saldana gained on him in the third and fourth corners. Joey beat Langerud down the back straightaway midway through the 24th lap, and immediately opened a comfortable advantage. Dollansky steered Karavan Racing's #7 VMAC Maxim around Tatnell in turn four and was half a car-length behind Langerud when they took the checkered flag. The late burst pushed "The Crowd Pleaser" past Meyers into fourth place in the standings.
World of Outlaws Sprint Series points leader Steve Kinser finished in fifth place, ahead of Sammy Swindell, Lasoski, Mark Kinser, Third Heat Race winner Daryn Pittman and Paul McMahan.
Donny Schatz, who thrilled his hometown fans with a Duel in the Dakotas victory in 2002, drove his family's #15 Parker Store J&J into 11th place from outside the eighth row. Brian Paulus steered the #28 Arnold Transportation Maxim around seven cars to finish 14th.
Lasoski, the defending Duel in the Dakotas champion, paced the qualifying session with a 114.548-M.P.H. lap around the high-banked, ½-mile oval. "The Dude" leads the series with eight fast times.