LAKE ODESSA, Mich. (June 24, 2015) – Mother Nature captured the original May 30 date for the NAPA Know How Summer Rumble at I-96 Speedway. But tonight the rescheduled race was completed and went into the history books.
After applying the World of Outlaws qualifying to heat race formula, Joey Saldana’s No. 11 qualifying position placed him on the pole of the second heat. Starting next to Saldana in the Motter Equipment HE&M Saw Beltline Body Shop 71M was his friend Paul McMahan, but make no mistake, when the two were racing for the same patch of dirt, their individual competitive natures prevailed.
When the green flag waved to start the heat, McMahan grabbed the early lead. Saldana, running second, tried to slide underneath him, but couldn’t pass. McMahan began to put some distance between himself and Saldana but at the halfway mark, Saldana was back in stalking mode. The two were racing nose to tail. Saldana could catch McMahan, but couldn’t pass him. In one final spectacular ‘win it or wear it’ maneuver, Saldana stole the heat victory on the final corner of the final lap to earn a position in the dash.
In a pre-dash interview, Saldana was reminded that his first ever Outlaws win came at I-96 Speedway in 1995.
“Winning an Outlaws race is a great accomplishment and luckily I got to do it here, so hopefully we can get some of that success here tonight and have a good finish,” said Saldana.
Saldana, who was slated to start in the seventh position in the dash, was not affected by the inversion draw since the only inversion choices were zero, four and six.
Dash front row starters Steve Kinser and Sammy Swindell banged wheels on the first lap of the green flag. Kinser took the lead, Swindell was second and Donny Schatz was third until the third lap when Schatz wrestled second from Swindell. When the checkered flag fell it was Kinser with the dash win, and he also would start on the pole of the A Main. Schatz was second. Saldana was eighth and would start on the outside of the fourth row of the A Main.
After the four-wide salute, the drivers assembled in side by side formation for the green flag start. Polesitter Steve Kinser assumed the lead followed by Swindell and Schatz.
Saldana got a good start and advanced two positions to sixth. There was some position swapping at the front of the pack and when the caution came out with eight laps complete the running order was Kinser, Schatz, Madsen, Sweet, Swindell and Saldana.
Green again and Kinser maintained the lead until lap 16 when Schatz was able to overtake him for the lead. Saldana was running a competitive fifth when a flat right rear tire on lap 19 brought out the caution. Since the race was past the halfway mark, there was no guaranteed time in the work area. The green came out before Saldana could get towed to the work area and the team could change the tire. Schatz took the lead on the next green, but the caution came out one lap later. On lap 29, Sweet executed a wicked slide job to pass Schatz and take the lead. A red flag followed. On this restart, officials determined Schatz jumped the start and penalized him a row. The advantage went to Sweet on the next restart. There were two more cautions that slowed competition but at the checkered flag it was Sweet with the victory, Schatz was second and Kerry Madsen was third.
As a result of the flat tire, Saldana finished 22nd.
“We had a good car tonight,” said Dan Motter, team owner. “It’s a shame we didn’t get the time to change the tire and return to the track. This deflates your morale momentarily. But looking at the big picture, we did have a strong car so I am looking forward to a rebound at Burlington, Iowa this Friday.”
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