LAS VEGAS (March 5, 2015) – After a podium finish last night at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the Motter Equipment HE&M Saw Beltline Body Shop team came into the second night of competition full of anticipation, set to deliver another strong performance.
Joey Saldana set the benchmark in qualifying, notching his first No. 1 qualifying effort this season, lapping the half-mile in 14.358 seconds.
The World of Outlaws qualifying- to- heat-race formula seeded Saldana in the fourth starting position in the opening heat. When the green flag dropped, polesitter Rico Abreu took command of the field followed by Brad Sweet and Saldana. The first three cars began to spread out but at the halfway mark, Saldana began to put pressure on Sweet. At the checkered flag, the top three remained the same: Abreu, Sweet and Saldana. The Brownsburg Bullet earned a starting berth in the dash.
The inversion draw didn’t work in Saldana’s favor. With a ‘six’ ping pong ball pulled, the would-be pole starter was shuffled to the sixth starting position.
“The track was rough last night but it’s a lot better tonight. I think you’re going to see a top and bottom on the track,” said Saldana prior to the dash. “You can move around a lot more tonight and hopefully it turns into a good race!”
Saldana gained a position at the start of the dash, moving to fifth. Polesitter Terry McCarl led the pack, followed by Ian Madsen. While McCarl and Ian Madsen battled for the lead, Saldana was engaged in his own crusade with Kerry Madsen. At the halfway point, Madsen and Saldana banged wheels going into turn one. Both drivers were able to hang on and maintain track position. At the finish line it was McCarl with the dash victory and the pole of the A Main. Saldana finished fifth and would start fifth in the feature.
When the field was unleashed for the 30-lap A Main, Terry McCarl took the lead, then Ian Madsen passed for the lead, then McCarl regained the lead: three lead changes in the first lap. Saldana was fifth. On lap three, Saldana moved to fourth, quickly advanced to third and with six laps complete, he was running in the second position. As the race progressed, McCarl built up a 3.5-second advantage. With 13 laps complete, caution slowed competition and then with 16 laps complete, another yellow. On the restart, a spin by Brian Brown called the field back for a single file restart. Back to green with McCarl in the lead, Saldana second, and Danny Lasoski third. The leaders began to spread out but with five laps to go, McCarl slowed in traffic and Saldana gained ground. With two laps to go, McCarl was able to extend his lead to comfortably win Thursday’s feature. Saldana ran a strong race, finishing second and Danny Lasoski was third.
“Tonight was just a great effort the whole night,” said Saldana in a post-race interview.
“We had a shot there at the end but Terry (McCarl) was really, really strong through the majority of that race. It was going to take a lapped traffic car to make it happen and that scenario just didn’t play out. But Terry had a great car, he drove a great race and the guys I am between, McCarl and (third place finisher) Danny Lasoski are not too shabby, so it was definitely a good run for us tonight.
“We also want to thank our sponsor HEMsaw for their support. We wish they could have been here with us in Las Vegas.”
Saldana’s second place finish coupled with his No. 1 qualifying effort catapulted him from fourth to the World of Outlaws point lead by one point.
The teams have a travel day Friday and reconvene on the dirt at USA Raceway in Tucson, Arizona Saturday, March 7.
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