STOCKTON, Calif. (March 21, 2015) – Joey Saldana has shown consistency this season and has been oh so close to scoring his first 2015 victory on the World of Outlaws circuit. Tonight was the first of a two-night stand at the Stockton Dirt Track.
The Motter Equipment HE&M Saw Beltline Body Shop team possesses top-notch equipment and is deep in talent. It seems the only thing missing from the equation is Lady Luck. Would she make an appearance tonight?
At first blush, the fact that Saldana would be the last of 39 cars to take to the track for time trials, coupled with the fact that the cushion was creeping up, making it further around the 3/8-mile oval, appeared to be a serious handicap. Apparently Saldana didn’t get the memo. The Brownsburg Bullet does what he always does in qualifying, puts the hammer down and amazed the spectators and competitors with a monster 12.593-second run, good for a mind-boggling second quick!
“Qualifying as well as we did is a great way to start the night,” said Saldana. “But qualifying is one thing, racing is another. You have to keep up with car adjustments as the track changes throughout the night.”
Based on the qualifying order, Saldana was seeded into the fourth starting position in the second heat. When the heat went green, polesitter Craig Dollansky took the lead, followed by Tim Kaeding and Saldana. The top three did not change position during the eight-lap event, but they did put a straightaway between themselves and fourth place Carson Macedo. Saldana would be a member of the elite eight in the dash.
The ‘six’ ping pong ball was pulled in the inversion draw, shuffling Saldana from the front row to the inside of the third row for the start of the dash.
When the green flag waved, McMahan was on the point, followed by Shane Stewart, Kerry Madsen, and Donny Schatz. Saldana was sixth. At the halfway mark, Madsen lost the handle and dropped to the rear of the field. Saldana moved to fourth position. McMahan was the wire to wire dash winner and earned the pole of the feature. Stewart was second, Schatz third and Saldana fourth. The way they finished the dash was the way they lined up to start the 30-lap A Main.
After the four-wide salute to the fans, the drivers dropped to two abreast to take the green flag. Shane Stewart took the lead. Saldana made a bold move to second, Schatz was third and Paul McMahan fourth. Schatz went to work on Saldana executing one slide job after another but Saldana was able to hold his ground. Schatz finally was able to squeeze by Saldana to take second. Saldana took the position back but the yellow slowed competition before the lap could be completed. Restart order: Stewart, Schatz, Saldana, McMahan. Back to green and the running order remained the same. There were two more cautions but the top four leaders did not change position. With 16 laps in the record books, Schatz took the lead. Kraig Kinser spun in front of Schatz and brought out the yellow with 19 laps complete. Schatz narrowly avoided contact with Kinser.
On the restart it was Schatz, Stewart, Saldana and McMahan. With nine laps to go, Saldana was squeezed off the track, and dropped his right rear over the cushion, which was just enough of a bobble for McMahan to get by. Saldana recovered and got back up on the wheel and quickly regained third position.
With two laps remaining in the race, the yellow was displayed once again. The World of Outlaws rules call for a single file restart with a green, white, checker finish. The final green flag set off a side by side, wheel-to-wheel battle between leader Schatz and second place Stewart. Stewart led to the white flag, but Schatz got back in front. The two drivers banged bumpers to the finish with Schatz ultimately winning his second race of the season. Stewart finished second and Saldana rounded out the podium.
“It’s fun racing up front and when you get close, you want more,” said Saldana. “But it’s hard to get more out here. You’ve just got to kind of take what you can get and move on. Hopefully tomorrow we can get a little bit better.”
The Motter team will be back in action at Stockton tomorrow night.
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