Joey Saldana triumphed at Hartford Motor Speedway in Michigan on Wednesday night after returning behind the wheel of the # 9 Red Bull Maxim for the first time since an injury sidelined him in July.
Joey Saldana, driver of the #9 Red Bull/Sage Fruit Maxim
Many people told him it was too soon. His family and friends cautioned him against it. Joey Saldana, though, knew Wednesday night at Hartford Motor Speedway he was ready to return to World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series action.
With support from car owner Kasey Kahne, Saldana climbed back into the #9 Red Bull Maxim for the first time in nine weeks, since suffering a shattered right forearm, a punctured lung and broken ribs in scary crash during the Kings Royal in July at Eldora Speedway. He never looked back. Saldana earned the pole position at the half-mile dirt oval and dominated the 25-lap feature for his fifth victory of the season and the most uplifting win of his career.
“This was way more than I expected tonight,” said Saldana. “My family thought it was too soon but I kept telling them I was ready. I was working out very hard at Pit Fit in Indianapolis to get myself ready to come back. I wanted to come back and be competitive and build something for next year. That’s why I came back for these races. I know and respect racing. Several drivers have been in accidents like mine and will never crawl back into a car. I’m very lucky and blessed to be here tonight and to come away with a win is huge.”
An eight in the dash inversion draw put Saldana on the outside row for the 6-lap sprint that determines the first 10 starting spots of the main event. Saldana wrestled the lead away from four-time champion Donny Schatz to earn the right to start on the pole for the 25-lap feature.
Saldana raced away from the field at the drop of the green flag and held Schatz and the rest of the field at bay through three restarts.
Paul McMahan, driver of the #83 HR Cattle/Roth Motorsports Maxim
Paul had another solid night in the #83 HR Cattle/Roth Motorsports Maxim. He started out the night with a fourth-place qualifying effort and finished fourth in his heat. He finished seventh in the dash and eighth in the A-main event. He is still fourth in the point standings.
-Cody Darrah, driver of the #91 Great Clips/Sage Fruit/ASE Maxim
Cody qualified third, finished third in his heat and fifth in the Dash. After being involved in an on-track incident in the early stages of the A-main, Cody finished 19th. He is still 10th in the point standings.