TULARE, Calif. (March 16, 2013) – After an opening night of thrills and spills, the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car teams returned for a final night of attempts to tame the Thunderbowl.
For tonight’s racing action, crew chief Davey Whitworth made some changes to the Motter Equipment Fatheadz Eyewear 71M based on some observations the night before.
In qualifying, Saldana turned a best lap of 13.443 seconds, putting him in the No. 10 position but most importantly, earning him the pole in the first heat.
Saldana brought the heat field down for the green and took the lead as Lucas Wolfe challenged. With only two laps in the books, Cody Darrah drove through the dip in turn one, nicknamed ‘the valley’ by the racers, hopped up and got out of shape while Tim Kaeding got caught up in the incident and flipped in turn one. Both drivers opted to go to the work area and were able to return to competition. Saldana chose the inside line for the double file restart and took the lead with Lucas Wolfe in close pursuit. Saldana went high and continued to gain ground to stretch out his lead to win his first heat of the season!
Saldana’s heat win and the subsequent World of Outlaws draw transferred the yellow 71M to the eighth starting position in the all-important dash.
“The dash offers us an opportunity to work on the race car to see if we can hit on something that will benefit us in the feature,” said the Brownsburg Bullet.
In the dash, the second generation driver took the green from the outside of the fourth row and drove the high groove, picking off two combatants to finish sixth at the checker.
In the trophy round the drivers would contend with a set of conditions that would test the best. Saldana started sixth. The green flag had barely flown before the first caution came out for Cody Darrah who spun in the infield. Darrah was able to stay under power, but was relegated to the back of the field for the restart. In the double file restart, Saldana went high battling for position but with three laps down, Jac Haudenschild got sideways between turns three and four and collected Kyle Hirst. Mike Faria, with no place to go, got caught up in the incident and flipped upside down. Haudenschild and Hirst returned to action but Faria was done for the night.
Saldana was sixth on the short-lived restart. Drivers got stacked up and Donny Schatz got collected and suffered some car damage. He was towed to the work area,
made repairs and returned to action. With five laps completed, the red flag waved when Carson Macedo flipped between turns one and two. Macedo walked away while his car
was taken away on the tow truck hook.
A decision was made by World of Outlaws officials to go to single file restarts due to track conditions between turns three and four where a thin strip of rubber with little room to race continued to cause the drivers to stack up.
After a brief green, the red flag flew with 22 laps to go when Kerry Madsen and Brian Brown touched wheels while battling for the 11th position. Madsen flipped upside down and Steve Kinser got caught up in the melee, also flipping upside down. Both were able to make repairs and continue.
Under green again, Saldana battled for position with Tim Kaeding and Sammy Swindell, but there was caution on the track with 16 laps to go when Madsen and David Gravel tangled on the front stretch. Back to green and then with four to go, Kyle Hirst had a flat right rear tire bringing out the caution one more time. Back to green and at the checker it was Craig Dollansky across the finish line first, while Saldana was eighth in the final order for the second consecutive night.
“Track conditions changed throughout the night and by the time the feature rolled around, it was pretty much a train of cars, just follow the leader,” said Saldana.
Saldana came into this weekend fifth in the World of Outlaw point standings. Consistency has propelled the 71M team solidly into second place in the series point standings after two night of racing at Thunderbowl Raceway.