From Tony Veneziano, image courtesy of Steve Lafond
Bulls Gap, TN–March 18, 2010–Even though it’s still very early in the 2010 campaign, Joey Saldana heads into Kasey’s King of Bulls Gap at Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap, Tenn. this weekend in a very good position, as he is the current World of Outlaws championship point leader on the strength of seven finishes of sixth or better in the first seven races of the season, with six of those being Top-Five runs including a win as he chases his first World of Outlaws championship.
Saldana looks to continue his strong start to the season this weekend as the World of Outlaws return to Volunteer Speedway for Kasey’s King of Bulls Gap Presented By Budweiser on Friday, March 19 and Saturday, March 20. The two-day event is being promoted by Saldana’s car owner, NASCAR star Kasey Kahne. In addition to promoting, Kahne will also take part race at the high-banked four-tenths-mile, which is being co-sanctioned with the All Star Circuit of Champions.
“That is a neat track,” said Saldana who is in his fifth year driving for Kasey Kahne Racing. “Having it on the Cup weekend and Kasey (Kahne) promoting it, it’s going to be a huge event. Hopefully we can put on as good of a show as we did last time we were there. It’s a great place and a very unique race track. You never know what to expect, so hopefully we are at the front for both of the races.”
Saldana was victorious in the World of Outlaws debut at Volunteer Speedway in 2007 in a thriller over Tim Shaffer by just 0.199 seconds which was just a couple of feet on the track. Saldana has two career wins at Volunteer Speedway as he was also victorious at the track with the All Stars in 1993. The second generation driver has finished on the podium in all three of his career starts at the ultra high-banked and blazing fast four-tenths-mile which is just down the road from Bristol off I-81.
“That was an awesome race,” said Saldana recently when asked about the event at Bulls Gap in 2007. “It’s great to go back. We had a good turnout of fans the last time we were there. I have to thank Kasey (Kahne) for sticking his neck out and getting us two more races at this time of the year. It’s tough to get races at this time of the year because of the weather. Hopefully we get a good turnout and a lot of the folks who are up at Bristol come over to see some good short track racing.”
In addition to having his car owner on hand for the event, Saldana is looking forward to a number of other visitors from the NASCAR garage that will take in the action at Volunteer Speedway, in addition to fans that will make the trek over to the dirt track, which is one of the highest banked in the country and easily the highest banked the World of Outlaws compete on all season.
“It’s a very cool track and with the (NASCAR) Cup guys up the road 50 miles at Bristol, there will be a lot of people there that normally don’t get to see us race,” stated the native of Brownsburg, Ind. “It’s going to be a great turnout. The racing we had there last time was awesome and we were lucky enough to get the win and hopefully we can do the same thing this year.”
Kasey’s King of Bulls Gap will be the first two of a four race mini-series that the NASCAR star will be promoting in partnership with the World Racing Group. Points will be earned each night at Volunteer Speedway and following an event on June 16 at Missouri State Fair Speedway in Sedalia, Mo., a race that Kahne will also compete in and a race on July 8 in the Chicago area, the final Kasey’s King event, an overall mini-series champion will be crowned in what is being dubbed at the Showdown for the Bud Crown.
“It’s nice to see that Kasey (Kahne) is supporting the World of Outlaws and all of the drivers, not just his own teams,” shared Saldana. “Going out and promoting races shows that it’s not all about him and his race teams, but it’s about everyone and making this sport succeed. He’s doing a great job with that.”
Saldana, who has been driving for Kasey Kahne racing since 2006, has Budweiser on his No. 9 machine for the third consecutive season and the brewer will be the title sponsor of the Kasey’s King four-race mini-series, providing $15,000 for the Top-Three in the final standings after the four races.
“Budweiser is not only supporting our car, but everyone’s cars with this deal with the point fund (for the four race mini-series) and hopefully we can go out and get some more of their money for the No. 9 car by winning a few of these races,” Saldana said with a smile.
Kahne, who cut his teeth racing winged sprint cars in the Pacific Northwest and on the West Coast, continues to be very hands on in helping spread the word about the World of Outlaws and sprint car racing in general, which Saldana sees as being nothing but a positive for the sport, with the name recognition that Kahne has.
“There’s more to it than most people see and it’s neat to see Kasey doing more than just people see with the No. 9 and (No.) 91 and (No.) 49,” explained Saldana. “There’s more going on that just that and that is what this sport needs to continue to grow and succeed.”
After leading the World of Outlaws with 20 A-Feature wins and 21 overall triumphs in 2009, Saldana and his team have one goal this season and that is to claim their first World of Outlaws championship. He is one of just three drivers that has finished in the Top-10 in each and every race this season. Last Friday night at Lone Star Speedway, he charged all the way from the 17th starting spot to finish third. Then the following night despite having some engine trouble at Houston Raceway Park, Saldana was able to nurse the car home to a fourth-place finish to keep his streak of finishes of sixth or better on the season intact.
“Last year our big goal was to win races,” explained Saldana. “Last year we won, but we didn’t get the points. This year we know we can win races so our objective is to be more consistent and run every lap and be on the race track. This year when we were at (Las) Vegas we had some tire trouble, but still were able to salvage a sixth-place finish. Last time that happened there we had a 20th place finish. I think that’s the goal in winning a championship, is that on your bad nights to still finish as strong as you can and run every lap. The competition is so tough with the World of Outlaws. You have to win races, and you have to run up front all the time. That’s a hard objective to do, but that’s our goal this year, to finish every lap and try to get the best finishes we can.”
On Friday, March 19 at Volunteer Speedway, reserved tickets will be $29 if purchased in advance and $35 the day of the race. General admission tickets for adults will be $29 if purchased in advance and $35 the day of the race, with general admission tickets for youth (ages 11-15) $15, with children 10-under admitted free of charge in the general admission section. Tickets may be purchased in advance by calling the World of Outlaws at: 704-795-7223 or online at http://dirtcar.ticketforce.com.
On Saturday, March 20 at Volunteer Speedway, reserved tickets will be $29 if purchased in advance and $35 the day of the race. General admission tickets for adults will be $29 if purchased in advance and $35 the day of the race, with general admission tickets for youth (ages 11-15) $15, with children 10-under admitted free of charge in the general admission section. Tickets may be purchased in advance by calling the World of Outlaws at: 704-795-7223 or online at http://dirtcar.ticketforce.com.