Second No More: Joey Saldana Scores First Win of 2010 at Thunderbowl Raceway Tulare, CA-March 6, 2010-For many drivers, picking up the first win of a new season is one of the toughest feats to accomplish in racing. After being victorious 21...
Second No More: Joey Saldana Scores First Win of 2010 at Thunderbowl Raceway
Tulare, CA-March 6, 2010-For many drivers, picking up the first win of a new season is one of the toughest feats to accomplish in racing. After being victorious 21 times overall last season with the World of Outlaws, Joey Saldana certainly knew the way to the winner^Zs circle heading into 2010. He came close to winning each of the first four races this season, finishing in the runner-up spot in three of those.
Saldana broke though in a big way on Saturday night at Groppetti Automotive Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, California before a huge crowd to score his first A-Feature win of the season to earn $10,000 in the 35-lap contest aboard the Budweiser Maxim. It was the 60th A-Feature triumph of his career with the World of Outlaws.
"It was a great effort by my team," said Saldana. "We blew up in the dash and they worked hard to get the motor changed, so we really didn't get to work on our car too much. My car was pretty good for 35 laps and the motor held in there. It was a total team effort by everyone involved."
For Saldana, the win was his third at Thunderbowl Raceway with the World of Outlaws, which is the most of any driver dating back to the series debut at the track in 2003. The second generation driver scored his first victory at the track in 2007 and followed that up with a triumph last season at the high-banked 1/3-mile. He used a couple of strong starts to jump to the lead over pole sitter Tim Kaeding.
"It's very hard to win out here," shared Saldana. "Last year we won the second race of the season and it just rolled. Once you win one, it seems like it comes easier and easier. It seems like you are not thinking about winning as much and worrying about racing. Now, we can focus on racing and hopefully win some more."
In addition to winning on Saturday night, Saldana took over the top spot in the World of Outlaws championship standings after four-time and defending series champion Donny Schatz had some trouble and wound up 20th after making a couple of trips to the work area after earlier contact led to him getting upside down. Schatz was tied with Steve Kinser entering the event. Kinser came all the way from 21st to finish sixth, though fell a couple of spots in the standings to third. Saldana has a seven point lead over Jason Meyers, and is nine markers ahead of Kinser.
"When I'm leading in October, then I'd be happy," Saldana stated when asked about leading the points. "This is so early in the year that points don't matter yet. We just want to win races and keep our sponsors happy. As long as we are doing good and keeping everyone happy, I can continue to race and that's my goal."
After his win on Friday at his home track, Jason Meyers lined up eighth in the finale and after a first lap tangle involving Craig Dollansky and Jac Haudenschild that led to a complete restart, he took the green flag on the outside of the second row. Meyers got around Donny Schatz early in the race and the pair battled for the fourth spot for a number of laps. He moved into third on the ninth lap getting around Lucas Wolfe and was up to second on the 11th lap after Tim Kaeding's night came to an end while in the runner-up spot.
"This team worked hard all night," said Meyers. "D.J. (Lindsey- crew chief) made a few points before we went out and changed the car around a little bit and we had a much better race car. That thing was scary to drive in the dash. To have a weekend like this at home in front of all of my sponsors, family and friends is awesome."
On the second restart on the 11th lap, after a yellow and then red flag, Meyers inched ahead of Saldana in turn one down low, but Saldana used the momentum of the top side of the track to blast back around him and quickly opened a comfortable lead. One final restart on the 14th lap after Lucas Wolfe broke a driveshaft while running third, gave Meyers another chance at Saldana on a restart. He looked low in turns one and two, but was not able to get a run on the leader. Meyers wound up second in the GLR Investments KPC.
"That may have helped, but the bottom line is that he was getting through traffic as well as we were," shared the native of Clovis, California when asked if heavy lapped traffic would had helped. "We had a good race car tonight and it was good enough for second. We just couldn't get a good enough run on him. Thanks to all of the fans for coming out tonight. It was another great crowd tonight and another great point night tonight. It looks like we are going to have a great year and I am looking forward to it."
Fred Rahmer finished a very strong third in just his second career start at Thunderbowl Raceway on Saturday night after making his debut at the bullring on Friday night. He started 14th and moved up a couple of rows after the first lap tangle between Dollansky and Haudenschild. He found himself in the Top-Five by just the 11th lap of the 35-lap affair aboard the C&S Lawn & Landscape machine.
"I really enjoyed being out here and meeting some new people," said Rahmer. "We don't have anything like this back in Pennsylvania. I have never seen any place like this. I appreciate everyone for having me out."
Rahmer and his team had a helping hand over the weekend, as multi-time King of California and fellow Hall of Famer Brent Kaeding, who has won 20 times over the years at the high-banked bullring, was helping them with their set-up.
"It's a lot of pressure, because when you get advice from someone like that, you have to live up to it," Rahmer stated. "Last night my car was better than my finish so I had to try and make up for it tonight. The guys had the car very good and we were very fortunate."
Kraig Kinser picked up his best finish of the season on Saturday night coming home fourth in the Quaker State Maxim. Jason Sides continued a very consistent start to the 2010 campaign by finishing fifth in the Wetherington Tractor Service Maxim. He is one of just four drivers that has finished in the Top-10 in every race this season.
Steve Kinser was the KSE Race Products Hard Charger after coming all the way from the 21st starting spot to finish sixth in the Bass Pro Shops Maxim.
Sam Hafertepe Jr. was seventh in the Lone Star Speedway machine, with Paul McMahan eighth in the Great Clips Maxim. Tommy Tarlton was ninth piloting the Corporate America Lending Eagle, with Daryn Pittman rounding out the Top-10 aboard the Hunter Truck Sales Maxim.
The World of Outlaws return to action on Friday, March 12 at Lone Star Speedway in Kilgore, Texas and on Saturday, March 13 at Houston Raceway Park in Baytown as part of the Second Annual Texas Two-Step Weekend.
THUNDERBOWL RACEWAY NIGHT #2 NOTES
* FAST QUALIFIER: Lucas Wolfe paced the 29 cars that took time with an AMB i.t. timed lap around the high-banked 1/3-mile oval at 12.692 seconds at 94.453 mph. For his qualifying effort, Wolfe earned five bonus points. The next four fastest qualifiers also earned bonus points, including: Craig Dollansky (4), Jonathan Allard (3), Kraig Kinser (2) and Donny Schatz (1).
* THUNDERBOWL RACEWAY NIGHT #2 QUALIFYING WINNERS: Tim Kaeding, Jac Haudenschild and Joey Saldana won heat races. Tim Kaeding won the dash. Evan Suggs won the B-Main.
* FEATURE WINNERS: There have been five World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series A-Feature events held in 2010. The winners include: Jason Meyers (The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Thunderbowl Raceway), Steve Kinser (Volusia Speedway Park), Joey Saldana (Thunderbowl Raceway) and Donny Schatz (Volusia Speedway Park).
* 1/3-MILE WINNERS: Thunderbowl Raceway is a high-banked 1/3-mile oval. The World of Outlaws have raced twice this season on a track that size. The winners included: Jason Meyers (Thunderbowl Raceway) and Joey Saldana (Thunderbowl Raceway).