CHICO, Calif. (March 28, 2015) – Joey Saldana has four World of Outlaws victories, including two Gold Cup trophies, along with three preliminary event wins at Silver Dollar Raceway. His most recent appearance in victory lane was 2013 in the Motter Motorsports 71M.
At Chico, Dan Motter welcomed executives from Wyoming-based sponsor Mine Rite Technologies, along with their customers.
Tonight when Mini Gold Cup hot laps got underway at Silver Dollar, a tire went down to five pounds of pressure on the Motter Equipment HE&M Saw Beltline Body Shop Mine Rite Technologies sprint car. As a result Saldana wasn’t among the leaders in hot laps. The question remained was it just the tire or was the set-up off in hot laps. This situation is always a head scratcher for a crew chief in deciding what adjustments to make for qualifying.
When Saldana took to the dirt for time trials, despite his uncanny ability to put on a sensational performance in qualifying, the best time he could coax out of the 71M was a 12.725-second lap, which placed him 31st in the qualifying order.
With the World of Outlaws qualifying to heat race format, Saldana was slated to start eighth in heat three. When the green flag flew, DJ Netto assumed the lead. With three laps complete Saldana had worked his way up to sixth and was challenging Brian Brown for the fifth and final transfer position. The two battled side by side but with a totally rubber down race track, the field was like a train. Saldana finished sixth and for the first time in his tenure behind the wheel of the 71M, would have to work his way into the field through the C Main.
The Brownsburg Bullet took the lead of the C Main from the pole position. Despite a challenge from second place runner JoJo Helberg, Saldana won the C Main wire to wire and crossed the finish line with a two-second advantage over the runner-up.
Next the Bullet would have to be one of the top four finishers of the B Main in order to transfer to the A Main. He was joined by other marquee names in the sport including Shane Stewart, Rico Abreu, Kraig Kinser and Craig Dollansky who also would be fighting for a transfer position. The Bullet rolled to the green in the 13th starting position for the 12-lap event. Though Saldana made good progress marching forward through traffic on a tough race track, he finished seventh and took a provisional to acquire a starting position in the A Main.
Prior to the start of the feature, track personnel re-worked portions of the track surface.
Polesitter Donny Schatz brought the 26-car field down for the start of the 40-lap A Main. As expected, Schatz led the field when the green flew. Daryn Pittman was second. When the yellow was displayed with four laps complete, Saldana had worked his way from his 25th starting position to the 24th spot. Back to green and Saldana was soon up to 21st position. With nine laps complete, Saldana and Dominic Scelzi made contact and hooked bumpers. Saldana was able to re-fire and join the back of the pack. Once again he would have to thread his way through the field.
A spin by Austen Wheatley and Paul McMahan on the restart, brought the caution out again. Will 11 laps complete racing was slowed yet again when Rico Abreu spun. On the restart, Schatz continued to show the way, but Madsen vaulted into second. When the yellow came out again seven laps later, Saldana had advanced to 20th.
On the next restart on lap 19, Madsen took the lead away from Schatz.
At the halfway mark, the track was rubber down once again but with a combination of skill and perseverance, Saldana moved to 14th. Schatz regained the lead on lap 26. As the race wound down to its final laps, Tanner Thorson stole second place from Madsen and Saldana gained two more positions to finish 12th.
The podium consisted of Schatz with the victory, Thorson second and Madsen third.
“This was a taxing night,” said team owner Dan Motter. “As a team owner I believe we have to go back to 1991 before I can remember having to start a C Main. I am sure Joey would have to look way back to find the last time he started a C Main as well.
“Despite all the trials and tribulations tonight, I was impressed by Joey’s determination and resilience. He was thrown into the deep end a few times and kept charging back. The same goes for the team. They kept working to make the car better and they succeeded. I am proud of the team effort.”
The Motter team and the Outlaws will compete Sunday night at Antioch Speedway.
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