ROSSBURG, Ohio (Sept. 15, 2015) – Joey Saldana and the Motter Equipment HE&M Saw Beltline Body Shop team came to the famed Eldora Speedway tonight as the World of Outlaws 4-Crown Nationals defending champion.
This is Saldana’s favorite track and he has scored 23 victories on the half-mile including 4-Crown victories in 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2014.
Though Saldana qualified in the uncustomary No. 15 position with a13.582-second lap, in World of Outlaws formatting, he was allotted the pole position of the third heat.
When the green flag flew on the heat, Saldana fended off multiple slide job attempts by Steve Kinser to hold on to the lead, setting the pace for a flag to flag victory and earning a starting berth in the dash.
“I watched my Dad race here quite a bit,” said Saldana after his heat race victory. “A lot of great race car drivers have been here and you watch enough and pay a little bit of attention and hopefully you can learn something. I think I’ve learned a little bit but I’ve also learned you can get hurt here too.
“So you try to have fun and enjoy yourself and if you do that you can usually have a good result.”
As a scheduled eighth place starter in the dash, Saldana’s position would not be at stake in the zero, two, or four inversion draw. Saldana pushed off eighth and crossed the finish line eighth. This would put him on the outside of the fourth row for the start of the A Main.
When the field took the green flag, polesitter Chad Kemenah took advantage of his starting position to lead the field followed by Tim Shaffer and Rico Abreu. Saldana was ninth in the opening lap. The 30-lap non-stop event saw lead changes on lap 14 when Abreu briefly topped the charts and again on lap 16 when Greg Wilson won a three-wide battle for the lead. Wilson paced the field for the remainder of the event, notching his first career World of Outlaws victory. Shane Stewart was second and Abreu took the final spot on the podium.
Saldana who battled handling problems finished 19th.
Earlier tonight, Eldora track owner Tony Stewart’s track officials announced that following conversations with Stewart, they have increased the purse by $100,000 for the 2016 Kings Royal, one of the crown jewels of the World of Outlaws season. The winner’s share will remain $50,000 but the second place finisher will take home $20,000, up $5,000 from the 2015 purse, third place will earn $15,000. The Kings Royal will pay $3,000 to start.
The announcement was met with great enthusiasm from the winged sprint car road warriors.
Tomorrow the Outlaws will compete in Marne, Michigan at Berlin Raceway.
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