PLACERVILLE, Calif. (April 8, 2015) — For the first time in 23 years, the World of Outlaws returned to Placerville Speedway for an event promoted by Outlaws campaigner Brad Sweet at his hometown track.
On a track where Joey Saldana had never turned a wheel, he drove the Motter Equipment HE&M Saw Beltline Body Shop 71M to an 11.008-second lap, qualifying in the No. 9 position. California drivers occupied the top eight qualifying positions, putting Saldana in the top slot for “out of state” drivers.
The Brownsburg Bullet started on the outside of the front row in the first heat race of the night. When the green flag dropped, polesitter Craig Dollansky assumed the lead. Saldana drove over the banking between turns one and two and slid back to seventh place. Tim Kaeding was second and Jonathan Allard was third. Saldana went to work on sixth place competitor Mason Moore, diving high and low, finally passing Moore at the end of the race, finishing sixth, just outside the top five transfer positions. The Bullet would have to compete in the Last Chance Showdown in order to earn a starting berth in the Placerville Short Track Outlaw Showdown.
Saldana rolled to the green in the Last Chance Showdown from the third position. When the 12-lap race began, polesitter Paul McMahan grabbed the lead followed by Cory Eliason and Saldana. After two cautions in the first three laps, the top three remained the same. With eight laps complete, the red flag waved for a four-car fender bender. Back to green in a single file restart due to narrow track conditions. The top three maintained their positions to the checkered flag. McMahan, Eliason, Saldana and James Sweeney earned transfer positions to the A Main.
The distinctive yellow 71M with Saldana at the wheel started the 35-lap feature in the 13th position. At the green Kyle Hirst led the pack followed by Andy Forsberg, Jason Sides and Schatz. Saldana was 15th. The race was halted for a red flag with five laps complete. Saldana restarted 14th by virtue of Tanner Thorson’s wild ride. Thorson, who was physically okay, was running 10th at the time of the accident that side-lined him for the evening.
Three laps later the caution flag waved, once again disrupting racing action. Back to green and Hirst continued to show the way with Forsberg, Sides, Schatz and Gravel following. Saldana moved up to 12th and Schatz moved to third before an accident involving Jason Johnson and Daryn Pittman, who was upside down and on fire, brought out the red. Kraig Kinser stopped to help Pittman out of his car and Pittman was able to walk away. It took some time for safety crews to extricate Johnson from his car. He was alert and communicating with safety personnel and was transported to a local hospital for observation. An open red flag during this time allowed the crews to move to their cars and make adjustments.
Racing resumed with Hirst leading the pack, but Schatz moved to second place, passing Forsberg. Saldana advanced to 11th place. On lap 28, Schatz took the lead.
With two to go, the yellow came out signaling a green, white, checkered finish, but only one lap was completed before another caution was displayed. World of Outlaws rules
specify a green, white, checkered finish, so technically the race would go 36 laps. Back to green, but on the white flag lap, Rico Abreu clipped the wall and flipped down the front straight. He was out of the car quickly and okay.
The restart order was Schatz, Hirst, Forsberg, Sides and Gravel. Saldana was 10th.
On the final green, Schatz paced the field, followed by Hirst. Forsberg jumped the cushion twice and lost positions. After a very long night of racing, Schatz won the race, Hirst was second, and Jason Sides was third. Saldana finished 10th.
The Outlaws head to Calistoga for a doubleheader this Saturday and Sunday.