WEST LEBANON, N.Y. (July 21, 2013) –The last stop of the weekend for the World of Outlaws was Lebanon Valley Speedway. Joey Saldana, driver of the Motter Equipment Fatheadz Eyewear 71M Sprint Car, won here in 2003 and was looking forward to the night’s event.
“This is a fast track and a big half mile,” said Saldana.
The track was particularly fast tonight as ten drivers broke the previous track record of 16.383 seconds set in 2003 by Danny Lasoski. Saldana lapped the half-mile high banked track in 16.295 seconds, placing him seventh in the qualifying order.
In his heat race, Saldana started on the outside of the front row. When the green flew, Saldana went high and rode the cushion, grabbing the lead. With three laps complete, Saldana had started to pull away from the field and widened his lead to 1.5 seconds.
The red flag was displayed with two laps to go when James McFadden, who was racing Jason Sides for sixth place, shredded a tire and flipped, landing on his side. McFadden was okay. On the restart, Saldana led the pack and posted a wire-to-wire victory in the heat earning a position in the dash.
After the inversion draw, Saldana was assigned the outside position of the front row of the dash. When the green flag was unfurled, it was a drag race down the front straight with Saldana riding the cushion and grabbing the lead and pole sitter Donny Schatz running low and a close second. Cody Darrah spun in turn two bringing out the yellow and a restart. The second start renewed the battle between Saldana and Schatz, exchanging slide jobs and the lead until Schatz took command and pulled away for the win. Saldana finished second and would start next to Schatz on the front row of the A-Main.
When the field was unleashed for the A-Main, Saldana fought for and gained the early lead which he held until the yellow came out on lap six for Cody Darrah who came to a stop on the front stretch. Darrah made repairs and returned to the field. On the double file restart Schatz took the lead, Pittman nabbed second and Saldana was third with Paul McMahan fourth. The best battle on the speedway was the race for third place between Saldana and McMahan. Saldana held his line but with nine laps to go, McMahan was able to pass Saldana during a side-by-side battle. With two laps to go and running a strong fourth, the unimaginable happened to the 71M team: Saldana slowed to a stop on the backstretch with a flat right rear tire. The 71M team made a quick tire change and Saldana rejoined the field as the last car on the lead lap in 16th position. When the field came back down for the green, white, checker, a hard charging
Saldana was able to pick up two positions, finishing 14th.
Donny Schatz won the event, Daryn Pittman was second and Paul McMahan was third.
“What a disappointment,” said team owner Dan Motter. “We had a good car tonight and looked as if we would have a solid top-5 finish. It totally stings to lose a tire two laps from the end and finish out of the top 10.
“We’ll get right back after it Tuesday night in Elbridge, N.Y. We will be looking for a better end to the evening.”