Red River Valley: Duel in the Dakotas preliminary report

Saldana takes Duel in the Dakotas opener. WEST FARGO, ND (July 4) - Neither a long rain delay, nor the five drivers starting in front of him, could keep Joey Saldana from winning the Preliminary Feature on Independence Day when the Pennzoil...

Saldana takes Duel in the Dakotas opener.

WEST FARGO, ND (July 4) - Neither a long rain delay, nor the five drivers starting in front of him, could keep Joey Saldana from winning the Preliminary Feature on Independence Day when the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series opened the Fifth Annual Duel in the Dakotas at Red River Valley Speedway.

The $5,000 victory, completed just after 2 a.m. Friday, was Saldana's second straight Preliminary Feature victory. The action was taped by Speed Channel and will be aired July 18th, starting at 11 p.m. Eastern Time.

The late afternoon thunderstorm that dumped more than an inch of rain on the high-banked, ½-mile oval, only made the racing surface faster. Defending Duel in the Dakotas champion Craig ollansky chopped .168 seconds off the single-lap record Sammy Swindell set two years ago, averaging 121.737 M.P.H.

Saldana, the fourth-fastest qualifier in the 36-car field, earned the right to start the 25-lap feature outside the third row by following Brad Furr and Danny Wood across the finish line in the Second O'Reilly Auto Parts Dash.

Pole-sitter Tyler Walker and Furr raced wheel-to-wheel down the front straightaway as the green flag fell in the Preliminary Feature. Furr bumped the outside guard rail on the front stretch, but surged ahead in the first corner, only to have the World of Outlaws Gumout Series points lead in the high groove in turn two.

Saldana, who passed Fourth Heat Race winner Danny Lasoski during the opening lap, raced into third place when Wood and the #6 Casey's General Stores Maxim turned sideways in turn two early in the second lap.

Walker's engine lost power and stopped abruptly on the back stretch the next time around. Mark Kinser collided with C&W Motorsports' #35 Maxim and flipped. Furr restarted ahead of the field when the green flag replaced the red, but Saldana passed him within seconds in the low groove between turns one and two. Dollansky used a similar move to pass Wood for third place.

Daryn Pittman passed Jac Haudenschild for sixth place with an inside move between the first and second corners two laps later. Donny Schatz, who #15 Parker Stores J&J was being sponsored by Subway Restaurants during the Duel in the Dakotas, suffered a broken rear end during his second qualifying lap. Schatz started the Preliminary Feature inside the 10th row and raced past seven cars during the first eight laps. He duplicated Pittman's move to pass Johnny Herrera for 11th place the next time around.

Saldana was 15 car-lengths ahead of Furr when the leaders entered lapped traffic early in the 10th lap. Pittman raced into fifth place several seconds later, passing Lasoski deep in turn two. Schatz passed Swindell for 10th place with an inside move in the fourth corner one lap later.

Mechanical problems in the #11H Vivarin Maxim forced Stevie Smith to stop in turn four late in lap 20. Dollansky steered the #7 V-Mac/Polydome Maxim into the low groove between the first and second corners to pass Furr for second place as the race resumed. Schatz continued his run toward the front, passing Tim Shaffer for eighth place high in turn two.

Oklahomans Pittman and Wood exchanged fourth place during the 22nd and 23rd laps. Pittman passed Wood deep in turn four, only to have the 2000 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year award winner ride the rim around him in same spot the next time around.

Dollansky caught Saldana in the third corner as they headed for the checkered flag. The 2000 Gumout Series champion lost traction deep in turn four, however, and was six car-lengths behind when Saldana took the checkered flag.

Furr finished in third place, ahead of Pittman, Wood, Lasoski, Schatz, Haudenschild, Shaffer and 24th-starting Steve Kinser. Kinser's #11 Quaker State Maxim slammed into the retaining wall in turn two early in his second qualifying lap, cracking its frame and forcing him to use a back-up car for the rest of the opening-night preliminary program. "The King of the Outlaws" qualified for the feature by racing into fifth place from the rear of the Fourth Heat Race and passed 14 cars to finish 10th in the evening's main event to maintain his Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series points lead.

-WoO-

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About this article
Series World of Outlaws
Drivers Tim Shaffer , Brad Furr , Mark Kinser , Danny Lasoski , Steve Kinser , Sammy Swindell , Tyler Walker , Daryn Pittman , Joey Saldana , Jac Haudenschild , Johnny Herrera