Hollywood Ending: Joey Saldana looks to back up emotional 2011 win at Hartford Speedway
HARTFORD, Mich. — July 27, 2016 — Hollywood couldn’t have scripted it any better in the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series last visit to Hartford Speedway in Michigan in 2011. Joey Saldana was returning to action, after missing two-plus months of action due to severe injuries sustained earlier that season. Some thought he was coming back too early, but being a racer, he just wanted to be at the track and in his race car. In storybook fashion, Saldana led all 25 laps of the A-Feature to pick up a very emotional win in his return.
Saldana looks to continue his success at Hartford Speedway, as he and his fellow World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series competitors return to the half-mile this week on Friday, July 29 for a full night of night.
“When I got hurt in 2011, I missed nearly 30 races, so to win in my first race back was huge,” said Saldana. “To do it at Hartford meant a lot as well, since I’ve always run well there. One year, I swept all of the All Stars races in Michigan. We’ve always had success at Hartford and when that’s the case, you definitely look forward to going back to a track.”
Saldana is the only driver competing full-time with the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series this season that has taken part in all seven previous races for the series at Hartford Speedway. The native of Brownsburg, Indiana has finished in the top-10 in all seven of those races. Along with his World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series win at the half-mile, Saldana won with the Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions at the track in 1995 and also scored a win with the Bumper to Bumper Interstate Racing Association at Hartford in 1998.
“When you know going into a track you’ve done well at in the past, and you enjoy the surface and what you are going to be racing on, then the results usually show,” Saldana stated, who drives the No. 83 for the Roth Motorsports team. “Hartford is definitely a place I enjoy going to and it’s not far from my house. With the Outlaws, we do so much travelling, that it’s always nice to get to race at tracks that aren’t that far from where I live.”
In the few weeks, leading up to the event at Hartford Speedway, Saldana has raced on three bigger tracks, including the famed Eldora Speedway in Ohio and historic Williams Grove Speedway in Pennsylvania, which are both half-miles. Some similarities exist in terms of driving-style that will apply this week when Saldana rolls into Hartford.
“Hartford is a track that has speed,” he shared. “You have to keep your car going forward and you can’t get it bound it. Hartford is similar to places like Eldora (Speedway) and Knoxville (Raceway) in how you have to attack it and those are places I’ve traditionally enjoyed running at. When you run the smaller tracks you have to turn the car a lot more and get it sideways, which if you do that at the big tracks that scrubs speed and slows you down. When you go to the bigger tracks it helps to know what you have to do speed-wise and being able to keep the car straight is certainly a key to that.”
Saldana heads to Hartford Speedway fifth in the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series standings. He has won four races thus far in 2016, as he closes in on 100 career A-Feature wins with the series. Saldana currently has 98 A-Feature wins. On the stat sheet, the veteran driver leads the series with 10 Fast Time awards. Saldana, who back with Roth Motorsports, after two previous stints with the team earlier in his career, has 41 top-10 finishes thus far in 2016, with 22 of those being top-five performances.
“It’s been a promising season so far,” he said. “If I had to grade it, I would say it’s been a B-minus or C-plus. We could be a lot better and have given some races away. Hopefully we can stay in the top-five in points the rest of the season and win some more races. I would say that would be a successful first year together.”
With the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series format this season lining up heat races heads-up by qualifying times, Saldana, who is traditionally one of the strongest qualifiers on the circuit, has found himself starting up front in numerous heat races this year. He points to time trials as being the key to running up front and being in contention again at Hartford Speedway this week.
“Our tires have changed a lot since 2011, when we won at Hartford, but the basics of a World of Outlaws race have remained the same,” said Saldana. “You have to qualify well to put yourself in a position to have a chance at winning. Qualifying is something we’ve seem to have done well at over the years with the Outlaws. That part of it hasn’t changed and if we can qualify well at Hartford, I think we’ll have a good shot at contending for a victory.”
Tickets for the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series return to Hartford Speedway in Hartford, Michigan on Friday, July 29 and can be purchased online at https://slspromotions.ticketforce.com or at the track on race day.
Discount General Admission tickets are available for purchase at participating O’Reilly Auto Parts stores. Each General Admission ticket purchased at an O’Reilly Auto Parts location will feature a special $5 discount. Tickets buyers will exchange their O’Reilly receipt for tickets at the Main Grandstand ticket booth on race day.
For more information on tickets, visit https://slspromotions.ticketforce.com.
Facebook: SLS Promotions LLC