Solid Gold: Saldana Wins 56th Annual Gold Cup Race of Champions
As Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over till it’s over,” and that mantra served true for Joey Saldana on Saturday night in the finale of the 56th Annual Gold Cup Race of Champions at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, California, as he led just the final ¼-of a lap of the 40-lap contest to pick up a thrilling $50,000 win over Jason Sides.
Saldana ran second for the first 39 lap of the race and used lapped traffic on the final circuit to get a strong run on Sides in turn three and charged around him on the high side of turn four to take the lead and earn his second consecutive and third overall win of the season at Silver Dollar Speedway. For Saldana, it was his series leading 17th A-Feature win of the season and the 56th of his World of Outlaws career.
“This is definitely a race you want to win,” said Saldana. “The money is good, but it’s about the prestige. This is a great race. It has a lot of history and sprint car drivers want to win races like these. It’s really not about the money, but the history. It’s pretty neat to have won it twice. The first one makes you realize that you can win big races and this one is just as special.”
Saldana started on the outside of the front row in the Budweiser Maxim, with Jason Sides who started on the pole quickly jumping out to a lead. Sides had opened a sizeable lead when the first caution of the night flew on the fourth lap. Just two laps later the red flag would fly after Sides again used a strong restart to jump out to a comfortable lead.
After another restart, Sides worked his way into lapped traffic for the first time on the 12th lap, with Saldana gaining ground at this point. Side was using the low side of the track on the 13th go-around with Saldana right on him up high. For the next three laps, Sides was held up by a couple of lapped machines allowing Saldana to look both high and low for a way around him. The caution flew again on the 17th lap as the leaders were in very heavy lapped traffic.
“We had him there about halfway through and the yellow came out and that was the only way I was really going to get him,” noted the winner. “He was really good in the open. If the yellows would have kept coming out, I probably would not have gotten him. Luckily we got in lapped traffic and got him to move around and once he moved off the top there going into (turn) three we got a good run and got by.”
On the restart after the lap-17 caution, Sides again pulled away with Jason Meyers battling Saldana for the runner-up spot. At the halfway point of the 40-lapper, Sides was in open track and had a sizeable lead when the caution flew. A strong restart helped him jump to another large lead, though he would be in lapped traffic on the 25th lap when the caution would fly again. After another strong restart saw pull away, the caution flew on the 27th lap. After getting two more laps in after the restart, a red flag flew, leading to an open red which gave the teams a chance to work on their machine.
“We actually did change something,” said Saldana of the open red flag. “The night before we won, but I felt like we needed the car to be tighter. When the yellow came out and we didn’t get by him, I felt like everyone else’s cars were freeing up, so we moved our tire in and tightened the car up. I knew if I could get to him I could move around better than he could. I think that’s what helped at the end. Being more tight, you can run your car harder through those holes. It was a good choice by Willie (Kahne) to move that wheel in because that’s what probably won us the race.”
The final two cautions of the night both flew on the 29th lap, leading to an 11-lap shootout between Sides and Saldana for the $50,000 top prize. With eight laps to go the leader found themselves in lapped traffic with Saldana gained a significant amount of ground to close right in on Sides. On lap-35, Saldana looked high off turn four and then low in one and two on the following lap as he made a bid for the lead. Sides cleared the lapped cars with three to go, while Saldana still had a couple to negotiate.
With two laps left, Saldana cleared the slower machines and was right back on Sides’ rear bumper. The native of Brownsburg, Indiana went high off turn four on the last lap and shot around Sides and powered his way to the start/finish line to earn his second title in the Gold Cup Race of Champions.
Sides wound up second in the Wetherington Tractor Service Maxim for the second consecutive night. After leading the first 39 laps of the race he settled for a $20,000 payday. It was his 21st Top-Five finish of the season.
“It has been a good season and we’re just happy to be up here running with these guys,” said Sides. “It’s not very often that you get to win a race like that and to lose it on the last lap for a lot of money sucks. My hat is off to the Kasey Kahne crew, they did a great job.”
Sides endured nine cautions and red flags over the course of the 40-lapper and used a strong restart each time to jump to a quick lead over Saldana. In open track, he pulled away from Saldana each time, with the latter gaining ground in lapped traffic each time the leaders encountered it.
“With as many cautions as we had, you are always looking for someone to get by you,” shared the native of Bartlett, Tennessee. “My guys did a great job tonight and worked their butts off tonight. Thanks to all the fans for coming out tonight.”
Jason Meyers, who was victorious in the opener of the Gold Cup on Thursday night, finished third on Saturday night in the GLR Investments KPC. The native of Clovis, California lined up fifth and feel back to sixth on the opening lap, gaining a spot on the third lap when third-place running Tim Kaeding spun. On the next lap, Meyers slid by Sammy Swindell in turn three and then worked on Jonathan Allard for a number of laps before moving into the final podium position.
“It was just tough to pass tonight,” stated Meyers. “We saw on our qualifying night a low groove and a high groove and it just didn’t work out that way tonight. I think the earlier mains wore out the bottom. We needed lapped traffic and got a little bit of it and were able to get from fifth to third. That’s all we had tonight. Maybe another five laps and we would have been in heavy lapped traffic. We just kept getting reds and yellows and it just made it too difficult to pass.”
Meyers looked under Saldana in turns one and two a number of times on restarts, but was never quite able to make a pass stick. For Meyers, it was his series leading 47th Top-10 finish of the season as he chases his first series title.
“I could get a good run on Joey (Saldana) on the restarts, but there wasn’t enough on the bottom in (turns) one and two to make it stick,” he said. “I tried for a couple of times just to make sure that I didn’t leave the bottom open for somebody else.”
Jonathan Allard finished fourth in the Village Green Resort J&J, with Craig Dollansky fifth in the DirecTV Maxim. Donny Schatz came from 15th to finish sixth in the Armor All J&J. Danny Lasoski was seventh in the Casey’s General Store JEI. Tommy Tarlton was eighth in the Tachi Place Casino Eagle, with Sean Becker ninth in the Sperry Racing Maxim. Brad Sweet raced his way into the finale of the Gold Cup through the B-Main and came from the 21st starting spot to finish 10th to earn the KSE Racing Products Hard Charger Award.
The World of Outlaws return to action on Wednesday, September 16 at Clay County Fair Speedway in Spencer, Iowa for the third annual Arnold Motor Supply Shootout.
56TH ANNUAL GOLD CUP RACE OF CHAMPIONS NIGHT #3 NOTES
• QUALIFYING WINNERS: Brad Sweet won the B-Main. Toni Lutar won the C-Main. Keith Bloom Jr. won the D-Main.
There has been 56 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series A-Feature event held in 2009. The winners include: Joey Saldana (Volusia Speedway Park, Silver Dollar Speedway-twice, Thunderbowl Raceway, Lone Star Speedway, Houston Raceway Park, The Dirt Track @ Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Virginia Motor Speedway, Lawrenceburg Speedway, Dodge City Raceway Park-twice, U.S. 36 Raceway, 34 Raceway, I-55 Raceway, Castrol Raceway-twice and Skagit Speedway), Donny Schatz (Volusia Speedway Park-twice, The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Knoxville Raceway, Eldora Speedway, Canandaigua Speedway, Lawrenceburg Speedway, River Cities Speedway, Cedar Lake Speedway, Eldora Speedway, K-C Raceway and Dacotah Speedway), Jason Meyers (Silver Dollar Speedway, Paducah International Raceway, I-96 Speedway, Red River Valley Speedway, Ohsweken Speedway, Skagit Speedway and Cottage Grove Speedway), Danny Lasoski (Delaware International Speedway, Nodak Speedway, Eagle Raceway, Charter Raceway Park and Lernerville Speedway), Craig Dollansky (Lebanon Valley Speedway, I-55 Raceway and River Cities Speedway), Greg Hodnett (Williams Grove Speedway-twice), Steve Kinser (Tri-State Speedway and Limaland Motorsports Park), Terry McCarl (Knoxville Raceway and Eldora Speedway), Dale Blaney (Attica Raceway Park), Randy Hannagan (Thunderbowl Raceway), Tim Kaeding (Riverside International Speedway),Chad Kemenah (Manzanita Speedway), Jason Sides (Ohsweken Speedway) and Stevie Smith (Lernerville Speedway).
• PRELIMINARY FEATURE WINNERS: There has been two World of Outlaws preliminary features this season. The winners include: Jason Meyers (Silver Dollar Speedway) and Joey Saldana (Silver Dollar Speedway).
• 1/4-MILE WINNERS: Silver Dollar Speedway is a high-banked ¼-mile oval. The World of Outlaws have raced 10 times this season on tracks that size. The winners include: Joey Saldana (Silver Dollar Speedway-three times and Houston Raceway Park), Steve Kinser (Tri-State Speedway and Limaland Motorsports Park), Jason Meyers (Silver Dollar Speedway-twice and Cottage Grove Speedway), and Tim Kaeding (Riverside International Speedway).
World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Statistical Report; Gold Cup Race of Champions at Silver Dollar Speedway Night #3; Chico, CA; September 12, 2009
D-main (12 laps, top 3 finishers transferred to C-main)
1) 27K-Keith Bloom Jr.
2) 5X-Colton Heath
3) 25C-Chad Groves
4) 64-Paul Zimmerly
5) 15X-Pat Harvey
6) M5-Stewart Krum
7) 9M-Cody Myers
8) 50-Mike Clarke
9) 28-Jim Marsh
10) 11MD-Mathew Davis
11) 20J-James Sweeney
12) 7K-Kenny Allen
13) 3A-Adrien Betournay
14) 44-Rusty Baglin
C-main (15 laps, top 2 finishers transferred to B-main)
1) 4X-Toni Lutar [$25]
2) 24C-Colby Copeland [$25]
3) 94-Zach Zimmerly [$300]
4) 53-Andy Greg [$250]
5) 5X-Colton Heath [$200]
6) 12-Jared Ridge [$175]
7) 19K-Bud Kaeding [$150]
8) 24T-Tyler Walker [$125]
9) 3X-Alissa Geving [$100]
10) 7B-Brent Bjork [$100]
11) 27K-Keith Bloom Jr [$100]
12) 49-Mike Monahan [$100]
13) 25C-Chad Groves [$100]
14) 25-Jason York [$100]
15) 11-Steve Kinser [$100]
B-main (20 laps, top 4 finishers transferred to A-feature)
1) 83T-Brad Sweet [$25]
2) R19-Jac Haudenschild [$25]
3) 92-Andy Forsburg [$25]
4) 33B-Jayme Barnes [$25]
5) 20-Kraig Kinser [$500]
6) 7-Robbie Farr [$450]
7) 33E-Evan Suggs [$400]
8) 1X-Brett Miller [$350]
9) OO-Jason Statler [$300]
10) 55-Brandon Carey [$250]
11) 54-Mark Hall [$225]
12) 4X-Toni Lutar [$200]
13) X1-Mason Moore [$175]
14) 33-Kyle Harris [$150]
15) 83JR-Paul McMahan [$150]
16) 24C-Colby Copeland [$150]
17) 35A-Wayne Johnson [$150]
18) 11AU-Trevor Green [$150]
A-main (40 laps) – Starting Position [#]
1) 9-Joey Saldana [$50,000]
2) 7S-Jason Sides [$20,000]
3) 14-Jason Meyers [$5,500]
4) O-Jonathan Allard [$4,700]
5) 19-Craig Dollansky [$4,000]
6) 15-Donny Schatz [$3,200]
7) 6-Danny Lasoski [$3,000]
8) 21T-Tommy Tarlton [$2,500]
9) 51-Sean Becker [$2,200]
10) 83T-Brad Sweet [$2,100]
11) 7KX-Shane Stewart [$2,025]
12) 11C-Roger Crockett [$2,000]
13) R19-Jac Haudenschild [$1,500]
14) 69-Brent Kaeding [$1,400]
15) 83V-Kyle Larson [$1,200]
16) 6X-Kyle Hirst [$1,100]
17) 10-Sammy Swindell [$1,050]
18) 5W-Lucas Wolfe [$1,000]
19) 92-Andy Forsburg [$1,000]
20) 33B-Jayme Barnes [$1,000]
21) 2F-Brad Furr [$1,000]
22) 13-Peter Murphy [$1,000]
23) 26B-Bobby McMahan [$1,000]
24) 83-Tim Kaeding [$1,000]
Lap Leaders: Jason Sides 1-39, Joey Saldana 40
SuperClean Start of the Night Award: Kyle Larson
Penske Power Position Award: Jason Meyers
KSE Hard Charger Award: Brad Sweet
The World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including: Armor All (Official Car Care Products), Crane Cams (Official Valvetrain), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), Fusion Energy Boost (Official Energy Boost), Quaker State (Official Motor Oil), SuperClean (Official Cleaner-Degreaser), VP Racing (Official Racing Fuel); in addition to contingency sponsors, Jake’s Custom Golf Carts, KSE Race Products, Penske Shocks, Racing Electronics, S&S Volvo; Engine Builder’s Challenge participants Don Ott Racing Engines, Kistler Engines, Shaver Specialties and Speedway Engines; and Chassis Builder’s Challenge participants J&J Auto Racing, Maxim Racing and XXX Race Company.