Saldana Relies on Experience to Claim Autodrome Drummond

Saldana Relies on Experience to Claim Autodrome Drummond
Dollansky rides podium finish to World of Outlaws championship standings lead
DRUMMONDVILLE, Quebec – July 28, 2012 – A night after experience beat him, Joey Saldana repaid the favor.
Saldana capitalized on his knowledge and patience to maneuver around James McFadden late in the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series feature Saturday at Autodrome Drummond, where he earned his fifth feature win of the season and 83rd career with the Outlaws.

“Last night, racing Sammy, I think I got beat because he had the experience,” said Saldana, who finished second to veteran Sammy Swindell on Friday at Autodrome Granby. “Tonight, for me, I won the race because just the experience and just seeing where the cars were and being able to know, ‘Hey, I needed to make sure I was on the bottom coming off of (turn) two to get a good run.’ I would say experience definitely helped me tonight.”

Saturday’s event was only the third for the World of Outlaws at the 4/10-mile track, where Craig Dollansky established a new track record in qualifying. Dollansky capped the night by finishing third in a three-way battle for the lead down the stretch of the main event.

“We were close and would have loved to get a win tonight,” he said. “In the grand scheme of things it was a great night for us. It was a fun race. There was a lot going on. (We were) just a couple spots short.”

Dollansky’s success coupled with a crash involving the championship standings leader Steve Kinser pushed Dollansky into the points lead for the first time this season. He now holds a 12-point advantage over Kinser as the top five are separated by only 51 points.

For most of the 35-lap feature, it was Saldana and McFadden in command with the newbie setting the pace. McFadden, the defending World Series Sprintcar champion in Australia, darted from fourth to second in the opening turns and then slid Saldana for the lead in turn three of the opening lap.

“I knew those guys would race hard in the first corner and I just thought I’d be conservative and hit the bottom,” McFadden said. “It worked out for us.”

He set a blistering pace and entered traffic less than a half-dozen laps into the main event. However, a caution on lap 10 bunched the field together and McFadden chose the inside lane on the double-file restart.

Saldana rocketed to the lead by the time they reached the flag stand, but it was erased when Tony Stewart Racing teammates Donny Schatz and Kinser collided while racing for fifth place at the end of the frontstretch. Schatz ended a series of violent flips in the infield and Kinser was unable to continue after sustaining too much damage.

McFadden held onto the top spot on the ensuing restart and Saldana maintained second place within a handful of car lengths during the next dozen laps. The duo entered traffic on lap 15 and Saldana began to reel in McFadden shortly after the midpoint of the feature.

On lap 25, McFadden was trapped in the outside lane in turn two as he tried to lap Etienne Girard. Saldana capitalized and squeezed into the lead as they exited the corner.

“He didn’t really realize the bottom coming off (turn) two,” Saldana said. “He could easily overdrive it and that’s how I got him in lapped traffic. He just kept overdriving (turn) two and I just kept staying patient with my car, got good runs off of (turn) two. Once I got out front I just wanted to make sure I didn’t overdrive it.”

Michael Parent flipped after colliding with Girard in turn two with four laps remaining to set up a late restart. Saldana choose the outside lane and got away clean, with McFadden edging Dollansky at the checkered flag.

“Those guys are my heroes and I’ve grown up watching those guys, so to race wheel to wheel with them and be competitive is a pretty good feeling,” McFadden said.

Kerry Madsen spun in turn three on the final lap while running fourth, which moved Cody Darrah to fourth place and Kraig Kinser to fifth. Kinser earned the KSE Hard Charger Award after starting 13th.

Bill Rose finished a season-best sixth, Swindell was seventh, Chad Kemenah eighth, Madsen ninth and Jessica Zemken rounded out the top 10.