TOP 10 FINISH FOR SALDANA IN THE IRONMAN
PEVELY, Mo. (August 3, 2013) – After the first day of the World of Outlaws Ironman 55 weekend was rained out, the Motter Equipment Fatheadz Eyewear 71M team was eager to hit the dirt and get some laps on their new GF1 sprint car chassis.
But before any racing activity began, Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 co-owner and veteran NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Ken Schrader walked over to the Motter team pit area and presented WoOSTP Sprint Car driver Joey Saldana with one of his helmets. Saldana has collected drivers’ helmets for a number of years.
“This is really special,” said a jubilant Saldana. “Ken can drive anything with wheels and has been successful at every level of racing in which he has competed. I am a huge fan of Ken’s. You can be sure this helmet will have a real place of honor in my collection.”
In qualifying, 71M pilot Joey Saldana lapped the high-banked 1/3-mile Federated Auto Parts Raceway in 12.094 seconds, seeding him 14th in the qualifying order. After applying the Outlaws mathematical formula, Saldana was awarded the pole position of heat race two.
The track surface had been re-worked after qualifying, but by Outlaws heat race time, it had returned to a very slick racing surface.
When the green flew on heat race two, Jac Haudenschild, who started on the outside of the front row, took the lead with Saldana and Cody Darrah battling for the second position. Darrah secured the position and was able to hold off Saldana to the checkered. Haudenschild crossed the finish line first, followed by Darrah and Saldana.
The Motter 71M was assigned the 16th starting position for the 55-lap Ironman feature.
“We have our work cut out for us for sure,” said Saldana prior to climbing into the 71M.
“You never know what to expect here, but we’ve won at this track starting from the 13th position.”
Saldana won the inaugural Ironman event in 2009.
Water was added to the track surface prior to the start of the A-Main and work was done on the cushion in an effort to give the drivers the best conditions to put on a great show.
It was past midnight when the green flew to unleash the 24-car field for the longest race on the Outlaws circuit.
Jac Haudenschild, Craig Dollansky, and Sammy Swindell raced three-wide through turns one and two, but the yellow was displayed with only one lap complete for contact between Kody Kinser and James McFadden with no driver injuries.
Back to green. Take two. Haudenschild took the lead with Dollanksy second, Swindell third and Cody Darrah challenging for third position. With 12 laps complete, Steve Kinser came to a stop in turn three with a damaged front axle. Kinser went to the work area to make repairs and amazingly the team made changes within the allotted two-minute work time. On the second restart, Saldana was running in 14th position, having gained two positions. This time, Dollansky took the lead with Haudenschild second and Darrah and Swindell still battling for third. Darrah prevailed. On lap 24, Haudenschild recaptured the lead but the yellow was displayed for Logan Schuchart who slowed on the track. Back to green, but David Gravel came to a stop between turns three and four. So with 25 laps complete, Outlaws officials displayed the red flag so that teams could refuel their cars in order to make certain that they could go the distance. Saldana had continued to gain positions and restarted 11th.
At the green, Haudenschild led the pack, Darrah and Dollansky traded second and third, and Schatz had worked his way up to the top five. With 29 laps complete, the yellow came out for James McFadden who spun in turn four. On the restart, Saldana was 10th, but the green was short-lived. Haudenschild got into the wall and flipped between turns one and two bringing out the red flag. Haudenschild got out of the car and hitched a ride back to the pit area on a 4-wheeler and was done for the evening. The incident also collected Austin Wheatley and did some damage to the right side panel of the wing of Darrah’s car. Darrah was able to restart in the second position.
The cushion was the preferred line around the track and on the restart, Dollansky took the lead with Darrah second and Schatz and Swindell racing for third. With 43 laps complete the red was displayed for Paul Nienhiser who flipped upside down and caught Austin Wheatley who had returned to racing action after an earlier incident. This time Wheatley called it a night. Nienhiser was not injured.
With 12 laps remaining, Saldana was 10th on the restart. It wasn’t green for long because Tim Kaeding flipped, bringing out the yellow. Kaeding was okay.
With 10 laps remaining, on the final restart, Dollansky led, followed by Schatz and Swindell, and that was the running order at the checkered flag. It was Dollansky’s third consecutive Ironman victory.
Saldana finished ninth.
“We were happy to get some laps on the car and to finish in the top 10,” said team owner Dan Motter. “We had been fighting a tire going down and we feel we might have been able to gain more positions had Joey not had to run a little conservatively to preserve the tire. We still were able to gain six positions and keep Joey and the car safe in a race that saw a lot of carnage.
“We want to thank the fans for sticking with us through a long night.”
Tomorrow night, the Motter team will join a host of the top sprint car drivers at Knoxville Raceway for the Capitani Classic, part of Southern Iowa Speed Week. It will also give the team their first look at the Knoxville track heading into the Nationals, the granddaddy of World of Outlaws events.