Riding an emotional high into Eldora Speedway on Friday night, Joey Saldana returned to the site of his greatest victories and scariest crashes with hopes of winning his second-consecutive World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series race since missing nine weeks to injury.
Joey Saldana, driver of the #9 Red Bull/Sage Fruit Maxim
Saldana dominated once again, winning for the second time this season at the historic half-mile dirt track that is beginning to define his career. Twice he has won the prestigious Kings Royal, but twice a potential championship run was decimated by injuries from a crash, most recently in July when he sustained a shattered arm, punctured lung and broken ribs that kept him out of the Kasey Kahne Racing Red Bull Maxim for nine weeks.
On Friday, just two days after winning at Hartford (Mich.) Motor Speedway his first race back, Saldana again was in victory lane at Eldora after leading 30 laps and holding off Paul McMahan, to the checkered flag. It was his sixth win of the year overall.
“I have to thank God for this one,” said Saldana.”It was only three weeks ago that I could barely run on a treadmill and tonight I outlasted a very physical race track. That’s a testament to my trainer at Pit Fit, Jim Leo. He ran me through my paces and pushed me harder and harder and it’s paid off. I couldn’t have imagined in a million years we would have won Hartford but now we’ve made it two in a row. It just shows how tough and good this team is. We were competitive earlier this season and they haven’t missed a beat since.”
On Saturday night at Lernerville, Saldana was going for his third win in a row and suffered engine trouble that resulted in a 23rd-place finish.
Paul McMahan, driver of the #83 HR Cattle/Roth Motorsports Maxim
McMahan kicked off the night with a fourth-place qualifying effort, a fifth-place finish in his heat and a win in the dash to put him on the front row for the A-main. Despite a strong effort, McMahan could only watch as Saldana powered to the front and held on through 30 circuits and two double-file restarts.
“You hate losing but if I had to lose to anyone, I’m glad it’s my best friend,” said McMahan, driver of the #83 Roth Motorsports/H.R. Cattle Maxim that’s run out of Kahne’s Mooresville, N.C., shop. “Joey just had an awesome car again tonight and it’s great to have him back out here. We had a really good car all night long and maybe had a shot on the restarts. It’s just a great night overall for Kasey Kahne Racing.”
McMahan qualified 10th on Saturday at Lernerville, finished third in his heat and ninth in the A-main. He is still fourth in the point standings.
-Brad Sweet, driver of the #49 Ollie’s Bargain Outlet/Sage Fruit Maxim
On Friday night, Sweet qualified the #49 Ollie’s Bargain Outlet car in sixth, finished second in his heat, fifth in the dash and 15th in the A-main. Sweet was running third when a flat tire forced him to the pit area.
On Saturday night at Lernerville, Sweet qualified 17th, finished fifth in his heat and 10th in the A-main event.
-Cody Darrah, driver of the #91 Great Clips/Sage Fruit/ASE Maxim
Darrah made his presence known early on in the night with a second-place qualifying effort and a fifth-place finish in his heat. He finished third in the dash and from the onset of the A-main was looking strong. While running in the top five a flat tire would force Darrah to the pits and leave him with a 21st place finish.
On Saturday night at Lernerville, Darrah qualified 19th, finished sixth in his heat, third in the B-main and 15th in the A-main.