HAUBSTADT, Ind. (May 3, 2015) – The final night of three consecutive World of Outlaws races culminated tonight at Tri-State Speedway. Spirits in the Motter Equipment HE&M Saw Beltline Body Shop pits were high based on Joey Saldana’s success last night driving from 18th position to a third place finish and scoring the Hard Charger award.
Tonight, Saldana was among the top qualifiers at Tri-State, wheeling the 71M to the No. 6 position (12.101 seconds) in a field of 39 cars.
The Brownsburg Bullet pushed off third in the second heat: ten laps, ten drivers, five would transfer to the feature. When the track went green, polesitter A.J. Bruns assumed the lead and Saldana maneuvered into second place. Both drivers held their positions to the checkered flag, both earning starting spots in the all-important dash.
Saldana was the beneficiary of a favorable inversion draw. The ‘six’ ping pong ball was pulled, placing the Bullet on the outside of the front row for the start of the dash.
“This place is awesome,” said Saldana. “I grew up racing here so I would love to find the key to getting a win here tonight.”
When the eight dash participants came down for the green flag, Saldana powered into the lead followed by Brady Bacon. The two drivers retained their positions to the checkered flag. Saldana received cheers and loud applause from fans in his home state as he crossed the finish line.
The Brownsburg Bullet, who has finished second at Tri-State Speedway on three occasions, would start from the pole of the 40-lap feature.
Track officials reworked the racing surface prior to the start of the A Main and the 25 starters were given an opportunity to buzz around the track before the four-wide salute to the fans. When the field was unleashed for the start, Brady Bacon grabbed the lead while Rico Abreu, Saldana and Paul McMahan battled for second. Abreu slid by Saldana to take second. On lap five, McMahan gained a position on Saldana. Saldana, who had gone to the top in turn one early in the race found there was no cushion to lean on after the track had been reworked.
The caution waved on lap six. The restart order was Bacon, Abreu, McMahan and Saldana, but when the track went green, cars were stacked up triggering a multiple car crash. Red flag. No injuries to drivers, just race cars.
The field then got underway successfully with a single file restart. The running order continued to be Bacon, Abreu, McMahan and Saldana. Abreu triggered the red flag on lap 13 when he got into Kerry Madsen in lapped traffic and turned over. Abreu was able to walk away and the track remained under closed red flag conditions.
Re-rack the field: Bacon, McMahan, Saldana. Back to green with a double file restart.
Bacon retained the lead, McMahan was second and Kraig Kinser got by Saldana on the inside for a few laps before Saldana mastered a slide job to regain third place. Behind Kinser was Donny Schatz who had made big gains after starting in the 20th position.
Madsen, Shane Stewart and Kyle Hirst tangled bringing out the yellow on lap 27. Restart order: Bacon, McMahan, Saldana, Kraig Kinser and Schatz. The green flag flew followed by the yellow and then a successful single file restart. Schatz passed Kinser to take fourth place and then Shane Stewart hit the wall and turned upside down bringing out the red on lap 32.
The restart order was Bacon, McMahan, Saldana and Schatz with eight laps to go. McMahan stole the lead on lap 33, Bacon was second and Saldana third. On lap 35, Schatz slid by Saldana and Saldana returned the slide job to regain third. One more yellow on lap 37 slowed competition, but at the checkered flag it was McMahan with the victory, Bacon second and Saldana third. It was Saldana’s second consecutive night on the podium.
“We just missed it tonight and over adjusted on our race car,” said Saldana. “We just never had anything for them, but hopefully we can continue to be consistent like this and then the wins will come.”
Saldana’s strong podium finish moved him up to fourth place in World of Outlaws point standings.
The Motter team will spend the week at Saldana’s Brownsburg shop preparing for Friday and Saturday’s (May 8-9) doubleheader at the famed Eldora Speedway.
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