CONCORD, N.C. – Through eight World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series events so far this season, eight different winners have stood in victory lane – a feat that has not occurred since 1995. While there is some level of parity at the top every night, the consistency of a few is driving the narrative and showing who the contenders might be as the series works its way through the season.
One driver who has consistently been up front and battling for wins in 2015 is Joey Saldana. While the veteran driver has not yet scored his first win of the season, he has confidence that his Motter Motorsports team is providing him what he needs to get there.
“I feel great. This team, we’ve been consistent enough to win races,” Saldana said. “We’ve been in position to do it – we haven’t done it. You definitely have to win races out here to be successful with the Outlaws and we’re there, but we definitely have to finish it off.
“We’re in the dash every night and we’re qualifying well. That is what you have to do to be successful out here. You have to qualify well, you have to put yourself in position and we’re doing that – we really can’t do anything different than what we’re doing.”
While the consistency borne from the driver’s experience, quality equipment and a veteran crew is there, Saldana said he is lacking another equally as important though less tangible thing right now – luck.
He pointed to his run at Thunderbowl last weekend. On night one, as Saldana led the field he was tagged by Ian Madsen, spun and was subsequently hit by second place Brad Sweet. Reigning series champion Donny Schatz got caught up in a similar incident earlier in the race but experienced less damage. Schatz finished eighth while Saldana had a DNF.
“We just got to have a little bit of racing luck on our side,” Saldana said. “We’ve been in position to win three or four of these races – so it’s not like we’re doing anything wrong, we’re just not finishing it off. We can’t get discouraged on ourselves, we just have to keep doing what we’re doing and hopefully it pays off eventually.”
As the season progresses, Saldana said the number of different winners and top finishers in qualifying, heats and dashes is a good thing for the sport. Still, he and much of the Outlaws competition is focused on Schatz. Though Schatz only has one win on the season, he has had the luck and the consistency to put himself second in the championship point standings.
“With Donny Schatz sitting right there, he’s going to be a big threat because this isn’t his cup of tea out here – this isn’t where he really excels,” Saldana said. “He usually lets everyone else take themselves out and sneak in and get the spot… If he’s hanging in there after this, if you leave this month right here and he’s still second or third in the points, you better get it together because he is going to be tough during the summer.”
While the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series has only made two previous starts at the Stockton Dirt Track, Saldana brings good experience and good notes to the event. In last year’s FVP Western Spring Shootout he led the first six laps and came home with a third place finish.
This weekend, Saldana will have the opportunity to put his Motter Equipment No. 71m car into victory lane twice during the expanded weekend destination event at Stockton.
“Stockton is a great track and the people support it and hopefully they do it again because I know they had a huge crowd,” Saldana said. “If that happens, I know we’re going to keep coming back.”
Two-day general admission tickets for this weekend’s FVP Western Spring Shootout at Stockton Dirt Track are available for $59 and two-night Reserved Grandstand tickets cost only $69. Single-night tickets & box seats are also available. Children 10 & under are free in G.A. only. To purchase tickets, log onto http://dirtcar.ticketforce.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=165 , or contact the ticket hotline at (877) 395-8606.
-WoO Press Release. Photo Credit: Brenda Meserve/Speed51.com photo