Saldana Hit With Qualifying Curve Ball in Outlaws Opener

BARBERVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 14, 2014) – The Motter Equipment HE&M Saw Beltline Body Shop 71M Sprint Car driven by Joey Saldana has been quick and fast ever since the team unloaded it at Volusia Speedway Park Tuesday, Feb. 11 at the open practice session.

Team spirit was high for the opening night of World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car competition following Saldana’s wire to wire victory last night in the UNOH All Star Circuit of Champions event.

In preliminary action in tonight’s DIRTcar Nationals, Saldana lapped the world’s fastest half-mile dirt oval in 13.356 seconds placing him 19th in the qualifying order.

“We were the fifth car out for qualifying based on the pill draw,” said team owner Dan Motter. “Unfortunately going out early worked against us as the track became faster as the night wore on. With 39 cars taking qualifying time, we had an uphill battle but Joey and the team were up to the challenge.”

Saldana started in fifth position in his heat race. With two laps complete, Saldana had moved to fourth and was making a run on third place driver Dale Blaney. There was close racing in this heat with everyone vying for an A-Main transfer position. Blaney was able to drive by Lucas Wolfe for second while Saldana stood on the throttle, now chasing Wolfe. At the finish line Wolfe edged Saldana by a nose. Brad Sweet won the heat and Saldana finished fourth, transferring to a coveted starting berth in the A-Main.

“This track is fast and it’s hard to do much passing but there was a lot of hard racing,” said Saldana. “I feel I missed the line a little bit in qualifying so I needed to put forth extra effort to help the team gain some ground. We were happy to capture one of the transfer positions.”

The list of drivers having to work their way through the B-Main was distinguished and included such stars as Donny Schatz, Kraig Kinser, Sammy Swindell and many others.

Saldana rolled off in the A-Main in the 18th starting position. Using his savvy driving skills, the Brownsburg Bullet worked his way to 14th by the completion of the second lap and was 12th in the running order by lap four. There was only one yellow tonight and that was displayed with 17 laps complete when Bronson Maeschen looped his car and stopped on the racing surface. Re-rack the field: Paul McMahan, Tim Shaffer, Brad Sweet, Dale Blaney, and Kerry Madsen. Shaffer and McMahan traded the lead for most of the event, but Brad Sweet proved to be the spoiler, grabbing the victory with McMahan second and Madsen third.

Saldana finished 13th.

“Passing proved to be difficult because there were no open lanes,” said team owner Dan Motter. “There was always a car on the bottom and one at the top of the track simultaneously, making it hard to get a run on the cars in front of us. Joey had his hands full and drove hard, but kept getting stalled with traffic. He just couldn’t break through as the cars in front of us were racing two and three wide during the last half of the race.

“We will get back after it again tomorrow night.”

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