TUCSON, Ariz. (March 7, 2015) – After two podium finishes at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Joey Saldana was hoping for a win at the NAPA Know How Wildcat Shootout at USA Raceway in Tucson. This track was on Saldana’s bucket list. He has finished second here but has never made the drive to victory lane. Spirits were high in the Motter Equipment HE&M Saw Beltline Body Shop pit and the team was hoping to be able to pad their point lead tonight.
Saldana, debuting his new HE&M Saw Workshops for Warriors tribute helmet, knew he had to dig deep in qualifying. As the last driver to take to the track for time trials, on a surface that was slicking off, the Brownsburg Bullet lived up to his reputation, clocking a pretty remarkable 14.304-second lap, good for the No. 9 qualifying spot.
Saldana was one of only two drivers in the second half of the field to bump into the inversion.
“It was huge to qualify No. 9,” said the Bullet. “One of the tricks with running with the World of Outlaws is to be able to adapt to all the different tracks. Our team is doing a great job. We adapted to the track conditions tonight pretty quickly. We just have to keep adapting as the night goes on and see what the race track deals us and hopefully make the right calls and have a chance at winning.”
Saldana started on the outside of the front row in the final heat. When the green flag dropped, Saldana surged to the lead with pole sitter Jason Sides in hot pursuit. The two drivers battled for the lead. Near the halfway point, Sides briefly took the lead before Saldana came right back to command the field. The Bullet’s victory gave him a ticket to the dash and assured him a starting position in the feature.
In the inversion draw, a ‘four’ ping pong ball was drawn, inverting the first four drivers.
Saldana started seventh. Front row starters Brian Brown and Brad Sweet changed places for the lead during the six-lap event with Sweet ultimately taking the dash victory. Saldana finished seventh and he would line up seventh for the start of the A Main.
After the traditional four-wide salute to the fans, the drivers returned to two abreast formation for the green flag start. Brian Brown jumped out in the lead and led all 30 laps of the wire-to-wire caution-free event. There was some jockeying for position throughout the event for second and third and ultimately Shane Stewart finished second and Brad Sweet was third. Saldana finished eighth.
So the victory at USA Raceway will remain on Saldana’s bucket list, but the Motter Equipment HE&M Saw Beltline Body Shop team did attain another goal: they left Tucson with the points lead!
“The trick to staying in the point lead is that you have to be consistent and you have to win races,” said Saldana. “We haven’t won a race yet so that is at the top of our ‘things to do’ list.”
Next Friday and Saturday (March 13-14), the Outlaws will be in Tulare, Calif. for a doubleheader at Thunderbowl Raceway.
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