CONCORD, N.C. (Nov. 8, 2015) – Delayed for one day by weather, the World of Outlaws World Finals last day of racing got underway Sunday afternoon.
During Thursday’s night of qualifying for the two races this weekend, Saldana notched his 17th quick time of the season blistering the track with a 12.904-second lap, besting all efforts in a 58-car field. This was his second consecutive year to capture quick time on the final day of World Finals racing.
Earlier in the week while going over the team’s 2015 statistics, Saldana went on record to say that the numbers for the win column would increase this weekend. He looked as if he might be headed toward victory circle Friday before the upper wing sideboard broke while he was leading, ending his run for the trophy. Today a motivated Saldana was seeking retribution and he definitely had his game face on!
Saldana rolled off third in this afternoon’s first heat race which was packed with A list drivers. In a short eight-lap, hammer down battle, only three drivers were eligible to transfer to the A Main. Saldana needed to be one of those to also protect a spot in the dash. When the green flag waved, the first lap was led by Shane Stewart, followed by Tim Shaffer, Daryn Pittman and Saldana. On the next lap, the Brownsburg Bullet took the inside line and executed a perfect slide job to pass Pittman and secure third place. He soon began to pull away to put himself comfortably in third position which he maintained to the checkered flag. Mission accomplished: the Bullet was in the dash!
The inversion draw was a zero, indicating a straight up start according to the qualifying order, with Saldana on the pole. Maybe Lady Luck was going to ride with Saldana today. When the track went green, Saldana was on point and stayed at the top of the leaderboard from start to finish, earning the dash victory and the pole for the 30-lap A Main.
It was now time for the run for the money for the final time in the 2015 season. With 58 competitors in Charlotte for the World Finals, 50 of which had won a 410 sprint car race somewhere in 2015, competition for the next 30 laps was going to be intense.
As afternoon turned to evening, Saldana led a field of 27 drivers to the starting line and showed the way after the track went green. Logan Schuchart was second, Brad Sweet third. Sweet was able to pass Schuchart for second and both were in pursuit of Saldana. The caution was displayed on lap eight when Trey Starks spun in front of Saldana. The Brownsburg Bullet was able to take evasive action to miss Starks but Bryan Clauson with nowhere to go, got caught.
Back to green and Saldana was back on point with Shane Stewart and Sweet following. Saldana continued to build a lead that was whittled back as he hit traffic. But the race was slowed by a caution on lap 17. On the restart, Saldana continued to lead, Stewart was second but Stevie Smith moved to third as Sweet was shuffled back to fifth. Saldana continued a strong run and built up a 1.8-second advantage over Stewart with two laps remaining. Saldana made it seem like a relatively easy romp to victory, crossing the finish line to log his third win of the year.
So Saldana’s prediction came to fruition.
An emotional Brownsburg Bullet had this to say in victory circle.
“This is awesome! We’ve really had a good car this year, just too many DNFs and too many mistakes on my part. We’ve led a lot of laps and tonight just showed how good our team is. It is kind of bittersweet really. This probably will be my last time driving the 71M so that’s how you go out! That’s the awesome way to go out right there. I can’t thank Ruth and Dan Motter enough for everything they’ve done for me these last three years, just giving me an opportunity to race at a high level. Thanks, too, to the folks at HE&M Saw and Beltline Body Shop for the support they have given us.
“Today is my anniversary (with wife Shannon) so I couldn’t ask for a better day. The only thing better is to go home and celebrate this with my boys and my wife tomorrow.
“To the fans, thanks for staying out. I thought you saw a good race. The track raced really well you could move around.and luckily we held on and got the win. I just don’t know what else to say. It was an awesome experience today and being a part of the World of Outlaws. I love what I do.”
While team owner Dan Motter continues to work on team sponsorship and is confident that he will be able to continue to compete in 2016, without a signed contract in hand today, the team’s future is uncertain.
“What a great way to end the season,” said Motter. “Every member of our team dug deep this weekend and we have the entire winter to savor the victory. Joey was lightning in a bottle and hit it out of the park tonight. We scored a wire to wire dash win and a wire to wire feature win in some of the toughest competition of the year. This is very satisfying.”
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