Saldana Works for Circle K NOS Energy Outlaw Showdown Win

Saldana Works for Circle K NOS Energy Outlaw Showdown Win
The Brownsburg, Ind., native claims victory No. 3 in the heart of NASCAR country
CONCORD, N.C. – May 25, 2012 – Joey Saldana parked his sprint car in front of the near-capacity crowd at The Dirt Track at Charlotte and emerged with a renewed vigor.
Drenched in sweat and caked in dirt, the veteran celebrated his third World of Outlaws feature win on a hot Friday night at the $12,000-to-win Circle K NOS Energy Outlaw Showdown. The event in the heart of NASCAR was also broadcast live on SPEED.

“The racing people that normally don’t see what we do, at least they can see that we actually work in our race cars,” Saldana said. “You do get dirty, you sweat and it’s definitely a chore out there to drive a winged sprint car especially on dirt and especially on a track like this. At least they can see what we do and they appreciate that we’re actually going out there and working for a living.”

Saldana did exactly that at the semi-banked, 4/10-mile dirt oval, where he won twice in 2009. He led 23 of the 30 laps, including the final eight, to pick up his 79th career World of Outlaws feature victory and the first in exactly six weeks.

“This is a place you need to win at,” he said. “It may not pay the most money, but it’s probably the most prestigious for sponsors and just recognition amongst people that pay our bills.

“Our main objective is to win races obviously, win the Knoxville Nationals, win the championship and win as many Outlaws shows as possible, and we haven’t been doing that lately. So this is definitely a step in the right direction.”

Saldana qualified seventh quickest and claimed his heat race, which locked him into the dash. The dash inversion was an eight, starting Saldana third. He finished fourth to line up on the outside of the second row for the main event.

Saldana quickly advanced to second place in turn one on the opening lap behind Sammy Swindell, who led the first six laps. On a restart of lap seven, Saldana pulled off an effective slide job on Swindell in turn two for the lead.

He pulled away before Ed Lynch Jr. brought out a caution on lap 11 with a flat right rear tire. Saldana chose the outside lane for the double-file restart and sailed to a big advantage before a caution on lap 15 for Matt Linder bunched the field together.

NASCAR star Tony Stewart, who started 12th after winning the Last Chance Showdown, worked his way into the top five on the restart and Swindell faded with smoke pouring from his engine. He pulled into the infield on lap 20.

Saldana faced his biggest task when Steve Kinser took advantage of an opportunity in traffic on the 22nd circuit. However, Kinser’s lead was short-lived as his left rear tire blew on the backstretch of the ensuing lap.

That gave the lead back to Saldana, who outlasted a strong finish by Donny Schatz and a late charge from Craig Dollansky.

“It definitely was better when the fuel load would come off,” Schatz said after his runner-up performance. “Any time you get the tires worn down it’s going to be harder to drive. Joey kept good care of his tires staying up there on the top. I was better at the end than I was at the beginning.

“We would have really liked to win, but tonight we’re going to settle for second.”

Dollansky overcame an early issue in qualifying, which sent him to the pits with the 23rd-best time. He claimed the sixth-and-final transfer from his heat race and then maneuvered his way from 21st to round out the podium.

“Any time you start that far back and get that far up toward the front it’s a good night for your entire team,” Dollansky said. “Our car was getting better as the race was wearing on. I would have liked to see five more laps. Even in the open track we were starting to come on pretty good there at the end. To start 21st and get up to third, that’s a great run.”

Polesitter Kraig Kinser finished fourth and Cody Darrah survived a flip in his heat race to place fifth in the feature. Brad Sweet was sixth, NASCAR driver and the owner of Saldana’s car, Kasey Kahne, ended seventh and Jason Sides placed eighth. Kerry Madsen, who set fast time in qualifying with a lap of 13.811 seconds, finished ninth and Chad Kemenah charged from 17th to round out the top 10.

Steve Kinser finished 13th, but maintains the World of Outlaws points lead by 12 over Schatz.

Stewart, who owns the cars for Kinser and Schatz, was 19th after a part in the suspension broke on lap 27 while he was running fourth.

Saldana, Kraig Kinser and Lynch Jr. each claimed a heat race.