EDMONTON, Alberta (Aug. 28, 2015) – The opening night of Oil City Cup competition got underway tonight at Castrol Raceway in Edmonton under clear skies, with no rain in sight. A nice welcome for the World of Outlaws who encountered two rain outs during their last trip across the northern border.
On a track where the Motter team drew a number late in the time trial order which might have presented a pretty big hurdle for most, Joey Saldana, in true ‘Bullet’ form, wheeled the Motter Equipment HE&M Saw Beltline Body Shop Sprint Car to the No. 3 qualifying position, tying Donny Schatz’s 13.398-second time.
Saldana lined up fourth in the final heat of the evening. When the green flag waved, Daryn Pittman assumed the lead followed by Trey Starks and Saldana. A caution on the second lap bunched the field. Back to green with Pittman in the lead but with Saldana now second, dive bombing Pittman, trying to take the lead but Pittman protected his turf, crossing the finish stripe first followed by Saldana. Both drivers
transferred to the dash.
The inversion draw yielded a ‘six’ ping pong ball, placing No. 3 qualifier Saldana in the fourth starting position on the dash starting grid. When the track went green, polesitter Shane Stewart grabbed the lead. Saldana and Kerry Madsen made contact in a scramble for second in which Saldana prevailed. The top three maintained their positions to the checkered flag. Stewart earned the pole position for the A Main and Saldana would sit next to him on the outside of the front row.
“We have been pretty lucky at Castrol Raceway in the past,” said Saldana. “You’ve got to have really good race cars. This is a cool little race track so hopefully we can get some of that luck and have a good run tonight.”
Polesitter Stewart brought the field down for what would be a 30-lap feature laden with an over abundance of cautions. When the green fluttered, Stewart took the lead with Saldana winning the battle for second over Kerry Madsen who was third. Trying to get the field back under green flag racing after a caution on lap five took several tries. On the first restart, fourth place runner Donny Schatz passed Kerry Madsen for third, but when two cars tangled before a lap could be completed, the restart order went back to Stewart, Saldana, Madsen and Schatz.
Another try. Stewart drifted over the cushion, Saldana took the lead. McMahan brought out the yellow stopping on the track with no nose wing. Another restart. Brilliant move by Saldana to take the lead again. Another yellow. Without a lap in the books, Stewart continued to lead the field on the restarts with Saldana second. On the next restart, Stewart maintained the lead, Saldana was second, but racing was underway once again.
Three more yellows slowed the competition. On the restart after the caution on lap 16, Saldana went to the head of the class to command the lead on lap 17. Stewart got a little loose, Schatz was now running third. As they maneuvered through lapped traffic, Stewart was able to pocket the lead on lap 23. Shortly after that, Stewart drove over the cushion and tagged the wall. Saldana had to hit the binders to keep from running into Stewart and with that quick interruption of throttle down racing, Schatz managed to dive underneath both drivers to take the lead. There was one more yellow with five laps to go, but the restart order was also the way they finished: Schatz, Stewart, Saldana.
“It was a good third place,” said Saldana. “This is a fun little race track and lapped traffic was crazy. That’s pretty much what got me and Shane and Donny just snookered us both. It’s the way it goes. We had a good car. We were hanging right with them tonight. But obviously we’re third, not first or second, so we’ve got to get a little bit better and we’ll keep working on it.
“The guys have been working really hard. The Motter car has been fast every time we’ve been out. We’re just trying to seal it up and get a win so hopefully we can do that tomorrow.”
Saldana led laps 17-22 tonight.
With green and yellow laps combined, 80 laps were run without refueling and Saldana ran out of fuel after he took the checkered flag.
The Outlaws will be back at it again tomorrow night at Castrol Raceway for the culmination of the Oil City Cup.
# # #