Joey Saldana. - Serena Dalhamer Photo
Joey Saldana. - Serena Dalhamer Photo
Joey Saldana. – Serena Dalhamer Photo

By Susan Arnold

CHICO, Calif. (Sept. 6, 2013) – Tonight marked the launch of the two-day World of Outlaws Gold Cup Race of Champions at Silver Dollar Speedway.  There were 53 competitors on hand vying for 24 starting positions.  Race fans hunkered in for a long night of exciting racing but at the end of the night it was Joey Saldana scoring his first victory of the season and his 84th career win.


Second-generation driver Saldana is the track record holder at Silver Dollar Speedway, having set the performance bar in 2009 with a lap of 10.918 seconds.  Drivers tonight did not run sub12- second times.  Saldana drove the Motter Equipment Fatheadz Eyewear Beltline Body Shop 71M to the No. 4 qualifying position lapping the quarter-mile high bank in 12.354 seconds


The Outlaws inversion formula placed Saldana fourth in the starting order for the fourth heat.  When the green flew, in a juggle for position with drivers three abreast, Saldana got hung out and dropped back to fifth position but with two laps in the books he had regained fourth.  The caution came out with three laps to go when Willie Croft stopped on the backstretch.  Back to green with Jason Sides leading, Rico Abreu second, Daryn Pittman third, and Saldana fourth.  Pittman made a successful run on Abreu to take the second spot and at the checkered flag it was Sides, Pittman, Abreu and Saldana all earning starting berths in the A-Main.


The Brownsburg Bullet also earned a position in the dash and after the inversion draw, he started sixth.  Pole sitter Jason Sides assumed the lead when the field was unleashed, second was Andy Forsburg, Jonathan Allard was third.  Brad Sweet, Shane Stewart and the Bullet battled for fourth place.  At the completion of six laps, the finish order was Sides, Forsburg, Sweet, Allard, Stewart and the Bullet. The way they finished would be the way they occupied the first three rows of the feature.


When the A-Main went green, Sides seized the lead followed by Sweet, Stewart, Allard and Saldana.  Sweet challenged Sides for the lead but could not capitalize.  With five laps complete Jason Statler lost the handle on his race car, turning sideways, bringing out the caution.  On the restart, Paul McMahan and Craig Dollansky made contact and brought the yellow out one more time.  When Sides brought the field back down for the green, the yellow came out quickly when Jonathan Allard hit the cone on the front stretch and was penalized two positions. Back to green and on lap six, Sweet took the lead from Sides.   With 10 laps complete, Saldana was on the move advancing to fourth, then to second and he was running third when the caution came out for a spin by DJ Netto.  Back to green and back to yellow for a spin involving Darrah, Justin Sanders,  and Madsen. Back to green briefly but a slide job by Sides that collected Sweet and flipped him upside down brought out the red.


The restart order was Sides with the lead, Saldana second.  It took a couple of attempts to get to the green flag again, but when racing resumed, Saldana took advantage of Sides who had to slow for traffic.  Saldana got a run and took the lead on lap 23.  There were two more yellow flags to draw out the tension for the Motter team, but at the end of 30 laps, Saldana was the victor!


“I have so many people to thank,” said Saldana, “especially God.


“I want to thank Dan and Ruth Motter who stuck with me and I am glad we finally got our first win for them.


“I also want to thank my wife Shannon and my children for the inspiration.  This win is for my son Reece who has been a remarkable athlete and I’m glad to be able to bring home a trophy for him.  This win means so much!


“All we wanted was a shot to race and tonight we won.  Hats off to all the crew members past and present who have made this possible:  Davey Whitworth, Sean Strausbaugh, Tommy Waseleski, and Bob Curtis who helped build the team over the winter.”


“I never lost faith in this team,” said owner Dan Motter.  “I knew we had a winning team and I’m so happy the combination clicked tonight.”


Second place finisher tonight was Jason Sides and Tim Kaeding rounded out the podium.


Tomorrow will conclude the Gold Cup Race of Champions in Chico.