MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (July 24, 2015) – Summer Nationals competition at the famed Williams Grove half-mile kicked off tonight with 39 drivers vying for Friday night honors in the highly-anticipated Pennsylvania Posse vs. World of Outlaws face off.
With two-flight qualifying rules in effect, Joey Saldana piloted the Motter Equipment HE&M Saw Beltline Body Shop 71M to the No. 2 spot in the first flight with a best lap of 16.873 seconds.
Saldana rolled off fourth in the second heat and was fifth at the end of lap one. He maintained that position to the checkered flag and transferred to the dash and the A Main.
In the inversion draw, the number ‘six’ ping pong ball was pulled, placing Saldana in the fourth starting position for the dash.
“The car feels pretty good,” said Saldana in a pre-dash interview. “We are going to try to get a good run tonight to build on for tomorrow.”
When the green flag flew on the dash, Saldana rode high, seizing third place. Schatz paced the field, but Saldana was able to drive by Lance Dewease for second. Schatz was the flag-to-flag dash victor and won the pole for the A Main. Saldana was second and lined up next to Schatz on the front row of the feature.
When Schatz and Saldana came down for the start of the 25-lap A Main, it was a side by side ‘double dog dare you’ challenge between the two drivers. Saldana got the advantage to lead the 28-car field, but Schatz didn’t back down, still trying to take command of the race. Saldana began to pull away and it was Saldana and Schatz, one-two when the yellow came out on lap six. Any advantage Saldana had built up was erased on the restart.
Back to green and again Saldana was able to out-run Schatz to take the lead but before a lap could be completed, Greg Hodnett and Paul McMahan tangled to bring out the red which became an open red flag period. There was a single file restart but another yellow. The third green got the field past lap six. Saldana led with Schatz second.
Then on lap eight another caution. On this double file restart Schatz captured the lead, and Danny Dietrich slid by Saldana for second and then set his sights on Schatz. On lap 16, Sammy Swindell wrestled third away from Saldana. Two laps later, Dietrich grabbed the lead running on the inside of Schatz. The yellow came out with one lap to go. After the green, white, checkered finish it was Dietrich representing the Posse in victory circle. Schatz was second and Swindell took the final spot on the podium. Saldana was fifth.
There were three leaders tonight. Saldana led laps 1-8, Schatz 9-17, and Dietrich 18-26 (extra lap for the green, white, checker finish).
Tomorrow night at Williams Grove, there will be $20,000 on the line for the winner of the feature and another $5,000 for the winner of the Morgan Cup.
# # #