SALDANA NO. 1 QUALIFIER IN OPENING NIGHT IN VEGAS,
FINISHES FOURTH IN HARD-FOUGHT BATTLE
LAS VEGAS (March 5, 2014) – Joey Saldana’s enthusiasm for the start of World of Outlaws Spring Break transferred to low qualifier for the opening night of racing at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the first stop on the six-week West Coast tour.
Saldana piloted the Motter Equipment HE&M Saw Beltline Body Shop 71M to quick time of 14.267 seconds.
The Brownsburg Bullet rolled off fourth in the first heat of the evening. When the green flew, Saldana worked the high side, and within the first lap moved up to second position behind leader Kraig Kinser. Kinser and Saldana began to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the field. On the white flag lap, Saldana was able to put a slide job on Kinser and briefly took the lead, but Kinser regained the position and held on to the checkered flag. Saldana finished second to secure a starting spot in the dash as well as the A-Main.
After the inversion draw, Saldana was slotted to start fourth in the dash. He broke fourth when the green flag waved and remained there until Wayne Johnson brought out the yellow when he slowed on the backstretch. On the restart, Saldana gained one position and came home third behind dash winner Kerry Madsen and second place Paul McMahan.
The 30-lap A-Main was filled with good side-by-side racing and slide jobs but sprinkled with cautions. The initial start was called back before a lap could be completed when Jac Haudenschild spun in Turn 2. The second attempt put one lap in the books before Jac Haudenschild again spun in the same spot. Restart: Kerry Madsen, Paul McMcahan, Saldana and Steve Kinser. When the field was unleashed again, Saldana went high and Kinser worked the bottom. The two dueled for third position but with two laps complete, Kraig Kinser brought out the caution when he lost power in Turn 2.
Re-rack the field: Madsen, McMahan, Steve Kinser, Saldana. Back to green, a few more laps completed with Schatz winding his way through the field to pass Saldana The caution flew again for Sam Hafertepe who slowed to a stop on the track with five laps complete.
Restart order: Madsen, McMahan, Steve Kinser, Schatz, Saldana.
Back to green with a battle that ensued between Saldana, Schatz and Sweet for fourth place. Saldana won the position with some hard driving and began to distance himself from Schatz and Sweet. Madsen and McMahan battled for first, with McMahan leading the field on lap 19. Saldana was riding comfortably in fourth place, distancing himself from those behind him. Kinser made a move to take second place and began to close on McMahan. With five to go, the red flag was displayed when Jason Johnson flipped.
Johnson was able to walk away.
Restart: McMahan, Steve Kinser, Madsen, Saldana, Schatz
Back to green with Saldana running low and Schatz on his heels. On the white flag lap, Sweet and Madsen made contact and Madsen turned sideways to correct and save the car but didn’t realize the front end was broken and went straight up the race track collecting Jason Sides.
Yellow once again and now back for a single file restart and a green, white, checkered.
When the field got the signal to go racing, Saldana went low and Schatz went to the cushion. Saldana riding in fourth place, challenged third place Brad Sweet coming off Turn 4, but couldn’t make the pass. Paul McMahan took the victory, Steve Kinser was second, Brad Sweet was third and Saldana was fourth.
Car owner Dan Motter was encouraged by tonight’s performance and was looking forward to returning tomorrow night to wrap up the Las Vegas doubleheader.