Saldana Scores Four Crown Win at Eldora Speedway
Dominant run gives him his sixth World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series victory of the season
ROSSBURG, Ohio – Sept. 19, 2014 – Donny Schatz had World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series win number 23 in his sights at Eldora Speedway on Friday night but Joey Saldana had other ideas as Saldana held off the five-time champion on the way to victory at the Four Crown Nationals.
“This is amazing because I actually beat Donny Schatz,” Saldana said in victory lane following his win. “He’s been unbelievable this year and just to be able to race with him and be able to drive with the World of Outlaws – honestly, it’s an honor to just be out here and race.”
Saldana said the win meant a lot to him personally because it is one of the places he grew up at watching his father Joe Saldana race.
“This is an awesome place, a humbling place and I love racing here.”
Saldana started on the pole and held off Kerry Madsen through the first third of the Outlaws event at the Four Crown Nationals. Then Schatz began to make his move. He took over the second spot on lap 12 and worked to take advantage of the two cautions that followed. Despite side-by-side racing and nose out front on a couple of occasions, Saldana held off Schatz scoring his sixth World of Outlaws win of the season.
Saldana, who dedicated his win to crew member Sean Strasbaugh, said he thought Schatz had the better car throughout the night but that qualifying made the difference for his Motter Equipment team over Schatz.
“I think what beat him tonight, not to put him down, was his qualifying effort,” Saldana said. “He just didn’t qualify good enough. I think he had the best car, I just held him up.
“Once I could keep my momentum up front I was pretty good. When it’s in the middle he’s definitely got the car to beat. He was there a couple of times so I knew I had to hit my mark and not let him slide me. But we just qualified well and put ourselves in position and that’s why we beat him tonight. That’s what you’ve got to do every night if you’re going to beat him. Tonight we did it. At least as a team we know we can do it, we just have to keep doing it.”
Saldana currently sits fifth in the championship standings, 511 points out of the lead. His battle for fourth with Kerry Madsen is heating up as the season draws to a close – just 17 points separate the two drivers.
Schatz, who won the last two Outlaws events at Terre Haute and Kokomo, said he made a few mistakes along the way in his STP / Armor All car that left him in second.
“Yeah we were really good early through the middle of the race there but in the end we weren’t as good as we needed to be with all the cautions. But you know that’s the way it goes. These STP guys gave me an awesome racecar. It was a race winning car – I just put myself in a couple of the wrong spots at the right time. It feels good when you make mistakes like that and have a second place finish. Hats off to the guys and we’ll go out and try to get a win tomorrow.”
Schatz continues to lead the standings for the 2014 World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series championship. The driver has a 254 point lead built up over defending champion Daryn Pittman.
Dale Blaney charged forward from an 11th place starting position in his Kennedy Cattle car, taking advantage of the restarts following each of the three cautions on the way to his third place run. On the next to last restart of the night, Blaney moved from fifth into third. Though he challenged Schatz, Blaney was not able to make up any more spots in the final laps.
“Yeah we had a couple of good restarts and gained a bunch – went from fifth to third,” Blaney said. “It was a good race – a good racetrack. It got pretty wide and if you got the wing back you could stick the bottom and fly a little bit. I had a really good car. To run from 11th to third with these guys here at this place is pretty neat.”
Jason Sides was the KSE Hard Charger award recipient of the night after starting in 25th and advancing nine positions to finish in 16th.