Series 2008 season review - Joey Saldana

2008 World of Outlaws Season Review: Joey Saldana Concord, NC-- December 10, 2008--Patience and resiliency are two of the characteristics that best described Joey Saldana's 2008 season with the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series. While he had...

2008 World of Outlaws Season Review: Joey Saldana

Concord, NC-- December 10, 2008--Patience and resiliency are two of the characteristics that best described Joey Saldana's 2008 season with the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series. While he had a car fast enough to win on most nights, he and his team endured more than their fair share of bad luck with flat tires and mechanical problems out of their control. Good fortune did shine on them though, as they were able to pick up five A-Feature wins over the course of the season.

Saldana finished the year fourth in points, to earn his third consecutive Top-Five finish in the World of Outlaws championship standings, on the strength of 45 Top-10 finishes, with 31 of those being Top-Fives. In his career, Saldana has finished in the Top-10 in points with the World of Outlaws eight times.

The biggest win of the season for the team came on August 31 at Skagit Speedway in Washington, one of car owner Kasey Kahne's home tracks. The win netted the team $25,000 and was Saldana second career triumph at the three-tenths-mile bullring.

"We did win some races and winning at Skagit was huge for the team," Saldana said. "We had run second there the year before and to come back and win that, with it being in Washington was huge for us. It's a big race as well."

Saldana picked up his first win of the 2008 season with the World of Outlaws on June 20 at Dodge City Raceway Park in Kansas aboard the Budweiser/Open Joist Mopar-powered JEI, with the cameras from SPEED capturing all of the action. His next win came at Eldora Speedway in the Knight Before the Kings Royal. He followed that up with a victory at Billings Motorsports Park in Montana during the annual Gold Rush Tour.

Another highlight for Saldana this season was picking up a clean sweep of a World of Outlaws event for the second consecutive year. During the final visit of the season to the famed Eldora Speedway on September 19, he set fast time, won the first heat race, won the Crane Cams Dash and led all 30-laps of the A-Feature event, which was his 17th career win at the half-mile. At the time, it was the first sweep of the season by a driver in a World of Outlaws event. Later in the season three-time and defending series champion Donny Schatz swept an event at Hollywood Hills Speedway in New Mexico.

"We had a sweep this year and one last year as well with the Outlaws and that is a testament to our team," Saldana noted. "That shows that we have the right motors and the right people in place and it's capable of being done. The guy who is winning the championships and all of the races (Donny Schatz) hadn't done in 13 years. Obviously we have the speed and everything in place to make it happen. We were just not doing it on a consistent basis. That boils down to team and teamwork."

Saldana and his team had their fair share of bad luck this season, especially while leading races. He was in command of the $50,000 Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway in July, when a tire exploded. This happened to the second generation driver a number of times this season running at the front of the field. Being a veteran of the sport, he was able to put those nights behind him and focus on the next race and what was needed to return to victory lane.

"We fell out of way to many races with flat tires, rear ends, and throttle linkages," explained the 1996 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year. "It seemed like every time we fell out, we were leading or running in the Top-Five and having pretty solid nights. That aspect of it was very tough, when a team like this expects to win races and be up front. Hopefully we can regroup in the winter and get our cars better and me better and our team better and be more competitive next year."

Saldana finished the season with five A-Feature wins to bring his career total with the World of Outlaws to 39, which is 11th best all-time. He is currently seven wins shy of moving into the Top-10 on the all-time win list, and if not for bad luck this season would have been very close to that mark.

"It's frustrating when people look in the paper and see you were 15th-24th when in reality you were a feature winning car or a Top-Five car, but you don't have the results to prove it," shared the native of Brownsburg, Indiana. "Then you see what Donny Schatz and Jason Meyers accomplished throughout the year and you know that you can be there right in the hunt. Being 35 years old helps deal with that aspect. If I was 25, I'd probably not adapt to it very well and be very frustrated with what's going on. I know it's out of my control. I know that I am doing the best that I can do and you hope that the team sees that. I am doing the best I can to make the car go around the race track and that's the most that I can ask for."

Saldana is currently on his way to New Zealand, where he will compete for the second consecutive season, along with Craig Dollansky who again be his teammate across the ocean, as well at Kasey Kahne Racing in 2009. Saldana won last season in New Zealand at TeMarua Raceway driving for the always potent Salter Motorsports team.

"This year will be pretty neat," he said with a smile. "We have five Americans going to New Zealand for five races. It will be a good time. It's good to go and race and keep yourself fit behind the wheel of a sprint car. You can work out all winter and I try to do all that I can to make myself better, but it's still nothing like racing a sprint car. There is nothing like being behind the wheel during those months and it definitely helps you when you get to Florida."

The 2009 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series seasons kicks off February 6-8 at Volusia Speedway Park in Florida with the 38th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH.

-credit: woo

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About this article
Series World of Outlaws
Drivers Kasey Kahne , Donny Schatz , Craig Dollansky , Jason Meyers , Joey Saldana