Saldana Feasts at the Knight Before the Kings Royal
He earns his 11th career World of Outlaws feature win at Eldora Speedway
ROSSBURG, Ohio – July 13, 2012 – Eldora Speedway has turned into a feast-or-famine facility for Joey Saldana.
A year ago, his season was derailed after a vicious accident during the Kings Royal kept him out of his sprint car for approximately two months. However, Saldana powered to a special victory in his return to Eldora Speedway last fall.
On an overcast Friday, Saldana recaptured that magic and feasted en route to the Knight Before the Kings Royal win – his 11th with the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series at the famed half-mile oval.
“Tonight we needed it,” he said. “The last two months we’ve been struggling.
“It definitely makes you feel confident, but you still got to come out here and run all 40 laps and be leading at the end.”
Saldana – a two-time Kings Royal champion – enters Saturday’s 29th annual Kings Royal, which pays $50,000 to win and will be taped by SPEED for a delayed broadcast, as a favorite after a strong performance that began with the 12th quickest time in qualifying of the 48 competitors.
Based on the inversion, Saldana started on the outside of the front row of his heat race. He led all eight laps to lock himself into the dash, which he started on the pole after the No. 8 pill was drawn during the dash inversion.
Once again, Saldana led the entire race to earn his third dash win of the season. It gave him the pole for the 30-lap feature and he took advantage early.
Saldana rocketed to the top spot on the start and built a sizeable advantage as a couple of top-10 cars had issues in the opening dozen laps. Danny Lasoski pulled to the pits under thick smoke while running sixth on lap four and Tim Kaeding brought out the first caution on lap 11 when he stopped in turn two while running eighth.
Saldana chose the outside on the double-file restart – like he did on every restart – and was never seriously challenged. The field was brought back together on lap 12 after a five-car crash on the backstretch, which triggered a couple of random events under caution.
As the lights went out, signaling the green flag the next time by, Sammy Swindell spun to a stop on the frontstretch after his steering wheel apparently came off. Swindell, who was running fourth, had to tag the rear of the field and restarted 17th.
While things were sorting out for Swindell, Kraig Kinser drove to the work area with a flat right rear tire. Kinser would have restarted eighth, but instead had to restart 18th.
The final caution came on lap 14 when Jac Haudenschild spun entering turn one and NASCAR star Tony Stewart, who owns Eldora Speedway, couldn’t avoid the spinning car and slammed into him. Those cautions helped Greg Wilson work his way toward the front and after starting the race 20th, Wilson restarted on the inside of Saldana for the last restart.
“We tightened our car up and tried something a little different, and it was real good,” said Wilson, who earned the KSE Hard Charger Award. “We got our car really, really tight and locked down, and were just able to roll around the bottom.”
Once again, Saldana mastered the cushion and pulled away from Wilson and third-place finisher Dale Blaney.
“Greg was really good on the bottom in (turns) one and two … and you get Joey out in clean air and on that curb that way it is, he’s really good on it,” Blaney said. “We’ll take a third, gladly run third every time with the Outlaws, and look forward to tomorrow.”
Craig Dollansky was fourth and Brian Brown placed fifth. Tim Shaffer charged from 21st to sixth, Justin Henderson finished seventh and Stevie Smith ended eighth. Kinser rebounded to finish ninth and Steve Kinser rounded out the top 10 after starting 22nd.