DRAMA-FILLED WHITE-KNUCKLE FINALE CONCLUDES WORLD OF OUTLAWS SEASON
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Nov. 9, 2013) – The World of Outlaws STP Sprint Cars turned the final page of the 2013 season, playing before a capacity crowd at The Dirt Track at Charlotte that included fans from all 50 states, seven Canadian provinces, Australia, Trinidad, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. It isn’t often that any sporting event can tout a fan base that is that extensive.
Joey Saldana and the Motter Equipment Beltline Body Shop Fatheadz Eyewear 71M team locked up fourth place in season ending Outlaws point standings with a podium finish last night. They were enthusiastic about a strong performance tonight to end their freshman year.
In Thursday’s preliminary qualifying action, veteran driver Saldana was the No. 20 qualifier (13.683 seconds), placing him on the pole of tonight’s fifth heat race.
When the green flew on the heat race field, Saldana grabbed the lead, and uncontested, began to distance himself from the remainder of the field. He took an impressive wire-to-wire victory earning a starting berth in the dash.
Unlike last night, the dash inversion draw did not favor the Motter Motorsports team.
Saldana rolled off 11th out of 12 starters. Steve Kinser posted a wire-to-wire victory in the dash and won the pole of the A-Main. Saldana finished 12th in the dash and started in the sixth row in the A-Main.
Pole sitter Steve Kinser brought the 25-car field down for the start of the final feature of the season. When the green flew a battle ensued for the lead between Kinser and third place starter Jason Sides. Sides took the lead and Tim Shaffer snagged second while the field continued to jockey for position. The caution came out on lap six when Shane Stewart slowed on the track and ultimately drove to his trailer.
The restart order was Sides, Tim Shaffer, Kinser, Brian Brown. Saldana was sitting in 12th position.
Back to green. Sides resumed the lead while Brown passed Kinser for third. The yellow was displayed on lap 12 when Kerry Madsen and Ryan Smith made contact.
Re-rack the field: Sides, Shaffer, Brown, and Kinser. Saldana had worked his way up to eighth but lost one position on the restart. On lap 14 Tim Shaffer got into the wall between turns one and two. Sides and McMahan were 1-2 on the restart and Saldana was ninth. Sammy Swindell was also gaining on the frontrunners and shot to second running the high side. The cushion was fast but tricky. Just as Swindell began to make a run at Sides for the lead, he got up over the cushion and caught the wall, bringing out the caution. With 13 laps to go, the restart order was Sides, McMahan and now Schatz was third. Saldana was eighth.
Back to green and McMahan began an earnest assault on Sides. With three laps to go, McMahan took the lead when Sides got hung up in traffic. At the finish stripe, it was McMahan, Sides and Schatz on the podium. Saldana finished 11th.
Daryn Pittman finished behind Saldana in 12th and clinched the 2013 WoO STP Sprint Car championship. Only 14 points separated Pittman and Schatz in year-end standings making this the closest championship battle in Outlaws history.
“One incident that had a big effect on our race tonight was that about halfway through the A-main, Joey got hit in the shield on his helmet with a rock or a very solid chunk of clay and it ripped off all of his tear-offs,” explained team owner Dan Motter. “He almost spun out in the middle of turns 3 and 4 when this happened but gathered it back up. He lost a couple spots in the process of getting going again, and his helmet got all muddled up after that and he couldn’t see the track very well. It looked like we were headed for a top 5 finish before this happened.
“If you take a look back at the season, I’m really proud of the accomplishments of this team. To be able to assemble a team, chassis parts and pieces, tools, transporters in 45 days…everything it takes to get this team down the road and everything it takes to be competitive on this aggressive schedule….and finish fourth in the final point standings, it was an admirable effort and every team member gave over 100 percent.
“If you had to point to our proudest moment of the season, it was probably besting over 100 competitors for the Knoxville Nationals pole.
“We plan to be a serious contender for the championship next season.”
Tonight’s race is scheduled to air on CBS Sports Network Sunday, Dec. 22 from 9 p.m. to Midnight Eastern time.