ALGER, Wash. (Sept. 5, 2015) – World of Outlaws teams returned to Skagit Speedway tonight for the final, and only, night of Monster Meltdown competition after rain washed out Friday night’s show.
With no rain in sight, preliminary action got underway. Joey Saldana wheeled the Motter Equipment HE&M Saw Beltline Body Shop 71M to the No. 4 qualifying position with a quick lap of 10.977 seconds.
In the opening heat race, Saldana pushed off from the third position. When the green flag dropped, polesitter Jason Johnson assumed the lead followed by David Gravel, Saldana and Kerry Madsen. Madsen was able to maneuver past Saldana a couple of laps later. Saldana finished fourth and transferred to the dash which set starting positions for the first four rows of the A Main.
In August, a new surface was put down on Skagit Speedway. Following that, the region received a great deal of rain fall. As a result, it was “a little bit of Cowboy up”, to steal a phrase from World of Outlaws announcer John Gibson, as holes appeared in the racing surface, making it tricky for the drivers to negotiate certain areas of the track.
“Last year we had top fives both nights,” said Saldana in a pre-dash interview. “This year it’s totally different dirt, totally different configuration. You just have to change your car as the night goes and hopefully we will make the right adjustments and have a shot at winning.”
Workers spent time grooming the track prior to a Modified heat and the Outlaws dash.
When it was time for the dash competitors to line up, holes had cropped up again on the racing surface.
Saldana, who rolled off third in the dash, went through one of the holes when the track went green and the 71M Sprint Car started to hop, putting a damper on Saldana’s first lap. Shortly after that, the Bullet was able to settle into a rhythm but the track was rough. Saldana finished sixth in the dash which would correspond with his starting position in the A Main.
“The cars looked like a bass going fast in rough water,” said team owner Dan Motter, “just bobbing up and down like they were going over big waves, riding through the bumps.”
Once again, track workers went back on the track, giving their best effort to eliminate the holes to give the drivers the best racing surface possible before the 35-lap A Main.
The initial start was recalled when David Gravel spun in turn two right after the green flag flew. Back to racing with Shane Stewart leading the pack, followed by Jason Johnson, Kerry Madsen, Saldana and Sweet. On the second lap, Sweet passed Saldana and on the next lap, Saldana regained the position. On lap four, Saldana was able to get by Johnson on the outside for the third position. Then competition was stopped when Paul McMahan, who was running seventh, flipped and brought out the red flag. McMahan was okay. And simultaneously, Kerry Madsen who was running second, had a flat tire and had to go to the work area.
The restart order was Shane Stewart, Saldana now second, then Johnson, Sweet and Pittman. Back to green and immediately back to red after a three-car pileup in turn one.
An open red was declared to allow team members access to their drivers and cars.
Back to green again with only four laps in the books. Stewart retained the lead, Saldana was second, Johnson third and Sweet fourth. On the 13th lap, Saldana got out of shape momentarily trying to avoid an errant lapped car, but the bobble allowed Johnson to move to second and Schatz to third. Saldana was now fourth.
There was one more caution on lap 14th but the running order remained the same until lap 31 when Schatz moved to second. At the checkered, it was Stewart with the flag to flag victory, Schatz second, Johnson third, and Saldana fourth.
“That was a really rough night,” said Motter, “but I am happy all the drivers are safe and sound. Joey did a good job salvaging the equipment tonight despite ‘dirt surfing.’ We want to thank the track crew for trying their best to maintain the racing surface.
“One hurdle we faced was lapped traffic. Joey nearly spun out trying to avoid a car that dove down into Joey’s racing line. That issue really took us out of a podium finish. We were lucky that Joey successfully executed an evasive maneuver.”
Following the race, a huge crowd of fans spilled into the Motter pits to get autographs from Joey along with a local radio station who recorded an interview with the Bullet.
“These fans are great,” said Motter. “We appreciate all their support.”
Saldana was still signing autographs 40 minutes after the feature ended.
The teams have a travel and work day tomorrow and will be race ready at Grays Harbor in Elma, Washington Monday.
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