Saldana Charges To WoO Point Lead
SALINA, Okla. — Joey Saldana captured his second World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series victory of the season on Friday night at Salina Highbanks Speedway as he held off Kerry Madsen and Kraig Kinser for a win that catapulted him into the point lead.
Madsen wowed the huge crowd, throwing his American Racing Custom Wheels No. 29 car around the top of the high-banked, three-eighths-mile oval, picking up several spots early in race as he tried to run down Saldana, who earned his ninth quick time in 18 races this season. Kraig Kinser’s third-place finish was his best of the season while Paul McMahan and Cody Darrah rounded out the top five.
Donny Schatz and Saldana paced the field to green, with Saldana’s Motter Eqauipment HE&M Saw No. 71m car shooting to the lead around the top of turns one and two. Madsen darted from sixth into a battle for third on the first lap. He gained the position a lap later then charged past Schatz and set his sights on Saldana. By lap five Madsen had caught Saldana, who had stretched his advantage over the rest of the field.
Saldana was able to fend off Madsen several times, including a restart on lap 13. Saldana blasted to lead with Madsen and Kinser in tow after Schatz was forced to the work area to change a flat right rear tire.
Saldana bobbled in traffic on lap 20, allowing Madsen to make a final charge for the lead, but he had enough steam to remain in front of a race shortened to 24 laps because of track conditions, collecting the $10,000 payday.
“I almost screwed up on those lap cars,” said Saldana. “I almost gave it away there. It’s so hard to keep your patience when you’re following those guys around. Rubber racing’s like that, you’ve just got to conserve and be smart and I almost wasn’t too smart there. I was conserving and I saw Madsen in second there. Kerry’s going to move around the race track and find something. I figured he was running down the top in three and four when we got bottled up behind lap cars so I tried it and obviously that wasn’t the right choice. I almost gave it away there, but it’s definitely hard to keep your patience when the track is like that, but we did and got the victory.”
Madsen’s run was his third podium finish in the past four races, which has moved him into the top five in the championship standings.
“(Crew chief) Tyler (Swank) had the car really good, we could be really aggressive early in the run,” said Madsen. “I made some moves and got a real good run off of four a lot of the time and passed some cars in one and two. In traffic in the rubber I got my nose under (Saldana)], but it was left-locking and I had to lift or it was going to be bad. Hopefully the rest of the year is this much fun.”
Kinser brought home a podium finish in the Mesilla Valley Transportation No. 11k for Steve Kinser Racing.
“We got qualified good, which has been our Achilles Heel starting out,” said Kinser. “We transferred through our heat race and it just worked out for us in the feature. Coming away with a third, especially with the competition we’ve got, it feels good, especially with the struggles we’ve had last month.”
Daryn Pittman, the defending World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series champion, is now tied with Paul McMahan in the championship, trailing Saldana by three points. Schatz is in fourth, a mere 16 markers out of the lead as the series heads Saturday into Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo.