Saldana Ready To Open Outlaw Season
CONCORD, N.C. — Joey Saldana was one of the hottest drivers on the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series last year before a crash late last season at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway derailed his championship hopes.
Last year he kicked off the season by winning the DIRTcar Nationals championship. This year he and his Kasey Kahne Racing team are hoping to use the DIRTcar Nationals as a springboard towards the 2011 World of Outlaws championship.
“Last year we had a tremendous car all week at the DIRTcar Nationals and my crew did a great job adjusting on it,” said Saldana, who has 33 World of Outlaws victories in the last two years.
In addition to history being in his favor, the 1996 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year winner and son of 1970 Knoxville Nationals winner Joe Saldana also spent some time in Australia this winter honing his skills.
“We went down and ran eight races in Australia,” Saldana said. “I felt like we ran very well and was able to build up more momentum.”
Racing wasn’t the only thing Saldana was up to this off-season. He also began training with Pit Fit, an exercise organization that works with drivers like his car owner, Kasey Kahne, and former Indianapolis 500 champion Scott Dixon.
In addition to getting in better shape, Saldana has also focused on making sure there are no lingering effects from the concussion he suffered in a crash last fall at Eldora Speedway that forced him to miss a race and essentially eliminated him from the World of Outlaws title race.
“I started working with Dynavision to make sure my mind was fully recovered from the accident,” Saldana said.
Fans can expect a new sponsor to adorn the No. 9.
“We were very happy to have been partnered with Budweiser for the past few years,” said Saldana. “We’re looking forward to announcing new sponsorship at the DIRTcar Nationals.”
In addition to the color changes on his Maxim chassis, Saldana will also work with a new crew chief. Willie Kahne, who was the crew chief in 2009 and 2010, will step aside to allow Kale Kahne to move into the crew chief role.
“It’s going to be strange not working with Willie this season but we have a great team and I’m sure we’ll all get on the same page and be as strong as ever,” Saldana said.
Through the changes, Saldana’s desire and determination remains intact.
“We hope we can win it,” he said. “It’s all about running as strong as you can and just being there at the end.”
The World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series season begins Friday at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla., as part of the 40th DIRTcar Nationals.