Rolling the dice: Saldana chases first win in Las Vegas Las Vegas, NV-- February 25, 2009--Joey Saldana doesn't get to race in front of his car owner Kasey Kahne very often, but when he does get the opportunity, it is something that he...
Rolling the dice: Saldana chases first win in Las Vegas
Las Vegas, NV-- February 25, 2009--Joey Saldana doesn't get to race in front of his car owner Kasey Kahne very often, but when he does get the opportunity, it is something that he greatly enjoys. Though the NASCAR star is competing on most of the same days as Saldana, he is able to keep up with all of the action from the World of Outlaws online via DIRTvision.com. For the second consecutive event to open the 2009 season, Kahne will be in the pits as Saldana takes to the track on Thursday, February 26 for the series return to The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
"It's neat going there just like at Volusia (Speedway Park in Florida), because you have your NASCAR Cup fans and you also have Kasey (Kahne) and Tony (Stewart) getting to see their cars race and they don't get to do that very often," shared Saldana. "For us to run Vegas is huge especially to have Kasey be a part of it."
Saldana has 22 Top-10 finishes in his career at Las Vegas, including in each of the four events in 2006, the last year that the series visited the half-mile. The second generation driver has finished second at the track three times in his career as he looks to pick up his first win there.
Saldana and the entire Kasey Kahne Racing team look to build on the solid foundation they established earlier this month during the season opening events, after an off-season switch to Maxim chassis. Also new this season, Saldana has been reunited with crew chief Willie Kahne, Kasey's cousin, who served as his crew chief in 2006, his first year with the team. In addition Saldana has a teammate in veteran Craig Dollansky who part of a two-car effort for Kasey Kahne Racing in 2009.
"The team did a great job working over the winter and made the transition easy on me," Saldana noted. "I had runs Maxim's in the past, about four or five years ago and they always seem to build great race cars. Steve Kinser is a testament to that. He has won a lot of races and championships with Maxim. I think our transition has been pretty smooth."
After competing for six consecutive nights on the half-mile at Volusia Speedway Park, Saldana and his team had a couple of weeks off to prepare for the World of Outlaws return to The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. While the tracks are both half-mile they have many different characteristics, but Saldana is quick to point out one thing that is essential to running well on big, fast, high speed tracks.
"You have to have a motor that runs very good," noted the driver of the Budweiser Maxim. "It's good that we had a couple of weekends off to go back to our engine shop and go through out notes. Hopefully we'll go there with our motors running strong."
Saldana won on the second night of the 38th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH earlier this month at Volusia Speedway Park to pick up his first win of the new season. Last year he won his first race on June 20 at Dodge City Raceway Park in Kansas, which was the 21st race of the season. He enters competition this week with 40 career World of Outlaws A-Feature wins, which has him just six wins out of the Top-10 on the series all-time win list.
"I think it does take some pressure off," admitted Saldana of winning right out of the box in Florida. "You can now worry about racing and out here, it's so tough to win races. There is so much pressure to win races especially for your sponsors. It's tough to be out here financially so it's huge for us to have Budweiser on our car and have Kasey Kahne as the owner being pretty high profile. To get that first win out of the way, hopefully will make the rest of the year a little smoother."
With four current and former series champions among the 17 drivers starting the year full-time with the series, 2009 shapes up to be one of the most competitive seasons in the 31 year history of the World of Outlaws. Saldana, the 1996 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year, looks forward to the competition and knows that he and his team have to be on their game every night to be in contention.
"Anytime you want to participate with the World of Outlaws you had better have a good car and do a great job as a driver, because it's tough," he explained. "The first few nights (in Florida) were a testament to that. Jason Sides was the guy to beat and he didn't win a race last year. I won last year and Donny (Schatz) had won, but he had two second place finishes and he was the guy to beat in Florida. It's tough to win races and the competition through the entire field is amazing."
After winning at Volusia earlier in the month, Saldana points out that it will take the same consistency to run up front at Las Vegas. Earning a spot in the Crane Cams Dash is also very important, as Saldana was able to put a disappointing qualifying run behind him back on February 7 and charged from sixth to finish second in his heat race to earn a spot in the dash.
"We qualified 24th the night we won and most teams would have thought they were done after qualifying there," he said. "We ended up putting ourselves in a position to win and we capitalized on being in a spot to win. You have to put yourself in a good position and if we do that at Vegas, then we should have a good run."
On Thursday, February 26 at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, tickets will be $29. For tickets for the World of Outlaws return to The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Thursday, February 26 visit www.lvms.com or call 1-800-644-4444.