TULARE, Calif. (March 15, 2013) – It was Chamber of Commerce weather, a beautiful afternoon with temperatures in the 70s as the World of Outlaws fans filed into the famed Thunderbowl Raceway for the first of two days of racing.
Coming into tonight’s action, the hottest driver at this track since 2003 was Joey Saldana, driver of the Motter Equipment Fatheadz Eyewear 71M, with four victories, twice that of any other driver.
It’s no wonder this track is a favorite of the Brownsburg Bullet.
In qualifying, Saldana lapped the Thunderbowl race track in 13.101 seconds to earn the number four position.
Though Saldana celebrated his birthday yesterday, today he was the gift giver of sorts as he had been chosen by World of Outlaws to autograph a limited number of Armor All shirts that were tossed into the crowd in the grandstands after opening ceremonies. The fans that were lucky enough to catch one of the Saldana autographed t-shirts won an Armor All care package.
In racing action, Saldana started fourth in the fourth heat. On the green flag lap there was slight contact between Saldana and David Gravel but both continued without any adverse effects. Coming out of turn three, young gun Carson Macedo got out of shape and made a lazy roll going into turn four. This incident brought out the red flag and Macedo’s car was towed to the work area. It was a complete restart with cars bobbling and bicycling in turn one trying to avoid a hole between the high and low grooves. Saldana, driving smart to avoid the dip, was able to put a slide on Paul McMahan to take third spot and then began challenging David Gravel for second but ran out of time, finishing a skilful drive, taking home third place to solidify a spot in the Feature.
The nightcap was a 35-lap Feature, with Saldana starting on the outside of the sixth row in the 12th spot. When the green flew, Donny Schatz worked the high side to grab the early lead, but racing was yellow flagged because Steve Kinser jumped the start. He was penalized and moved back and on the restart, it was an encore performance by Schatz on the high side to take the lead again. Racing was red flagged on lap seven when Steve Kinser flipped on his side. He opted to return to the work area, made repairs, and was able to return to the track. Saldana had worked his way up to 10th position when the field came down for a single file restart with 28 to go. With 14 laps
In the record books, Cory Eliason began a series of violent flips, coming to rest upside down on fire in turn two. Fortunately he was able to exit the car. This started a closed red flag period which was extended while track workers repaired a broken fence post between turns one and two.
Once again, the engines came to life with 21 laps remaining. On the restart, leader Donny Schatz got into the rough stuff and hit the wall, damaging the front axle. The car went into the work area for repairs but the team was unable to complete the work within the allotted two-minute period. Again, the field took the green and Saldana and Jonathan Allard traded places for eighth. The track got slower as the night wore on: it was slick through three and four and drivers still battled the rough dips in one and two. Saldana brought the 71M home in one piece and in eighth position.
Tim Kaeding won the event, becoming a three-time winner at Thunderbowl Raceway.