Saldana Stays Hot in Watsonville Victory By Richard Day WATSONVILLE, CA (September 9) -- Joey Saldana wasn't certain he was on a roll after winning the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series "A" Feature Friday at Kings Speedway. He still wasn't ...
Saldana Stays Hot in Watsonville Victory
By Richard Day
WATSONVILLE, CA (September 9) -- Joey Saldana wasn't certain he was on a roll after winning the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series "A" Feature Friday at Kings Speedway. He still wasn't convinced Saturday after winning the series' inaugural event at Watsonville Speedway, even though it was his third victory in the last five. "Tim Shaffer was the class of the field tonight," Saldana said after Shaffer crashed out of the lead late in the 11th lap. "I don't think I would have been able to catch him. I got really lucky tonight. I got into traffic there, and I had trouble trying to get by the 20 car (Johnny Herrera). Tim got around me, and then got together with that guy. We were just in the right place at the right time." Saldana, the seventh-fastest qualifier in the 45-car field, won the Third NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race and earned the right to start the 30-lap "A" Feature on the pole by winning his fourth CHANNELLOCK Dash of the season. He led the first 8 3/4 laps before Shaffer, who started inside the third row, passed him. Shaffer collided with Damien Gardner less than two laps later, however, giving the lead back to Saldana. "We've struggled a bit this year with our engines, but Charlie Fisher got this one together for us," Saldana said. "My guys went to Sacramento to pick it up for this weekend, so they're the ones who really deserve the credit. I just drive around in my motor home and get lucky enough to drive the race car." Saldana drove his #17 HEM Saw Eagle into the lead as the green flag fell in the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series' 51st main event of the season. A back-straightaway crash sent Daryn Pittman, Randy Hannagan, Mike Faria and Gardner flipping before he completed the first lap, however. Series points leader Steve Kinser and Sammy Swindell suffered a flat right rear tire and front-end damage, respectively. Pittman was the only driver unable to restart the race. Saldana burst into the lead again when the green flag replaced the red. He was seven car-lengths ahead of his closest pursuers when he entered lapped traffic during the sixth lap. Shaffer started making his move toward the front two laps later, steering the #11H Vivarin Eagle deep into the second corner to pass outside pole-sitter Peter Murphy for the runner-up spot. The 1999 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year award winner stayed in the low groove and raced past Saldana for the lead in turn four. Shaffer lost the lead two laps later when he collided with Gardner and flipped in the third corner. Greg Hodnett drove the #V12 Wirtgen Maxim past Brian Paulus between turns one and two for sixth place when the race resumed, only to spin in the fourth corner two laps later. Saldana raced away from the field when the green flag replaced the yellow, and opened a full-straightaway advantage within eight laps. A front-straightaway collision involving Shaffer and Hodnett -- and Mike Faria stopping on the back stretch -- during lap 24, bringing out the yellow flag and tightening the field. First NAPA AUTO PARTS Heat Race winner Jac Haudenschild took over second place when Murphy's engine malfunctioned during the caution period. Donny Schatz was battling Ronnie Day for third place early in the 29th lap when "The Wild Child" bicycled, allowing both to pass him. Day was 10 car-lengths behind when Saldana took the checkered flag. "I don't think I had anything for Joey," Day admitted. "I'm just glad to get to run second with these guys. I can maybe run with them once in a while when I get them in my back yard, but these guys are the best in the business. I wasn't really that good. Peter had problems on that restart and Jac bicycled. We hit him so hard, I'm sure his neck's still sore, but here we are on the podium. I just want to thank all these fans for coming out and supporting this show." Schatz held off Haudenschild for fourth place. Brent Kaeding raced into fifth from inside the 11th row. Danny Lasoski finished in sixth place, ahead of Steve Kent, Stevie Smith, Vivarin Fast-Time Award winner Mark Kinser and Herrera. Mark Kinser was the fastest of 20 drivers eclipsing Watsonville Speedway's single-lap record, circling the high-banked, 1/4-mile oval at an average speed of 82.199 m.p.h. The defending series champion received his 19th Vivarin Fast-Time Award of the year. Engine problems in the #93 Amoco Maxim plagued Dale Blaney throughout the program. The 1998 Rookie of the Year raced into second place from the rear of the "C" Feature, then passed Bud Kaeding for the final transfer position during the final lap of the "B" Feature. Blaney passed 10 cars to finish 14th in the main event. Haudenschild will be racing for his third straight Gold Cup Race of Champions title when the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series sanctions the 47th annual event at Silver Dollar Speedway Thursday through Saturday. WoO