By Susan Arnold
FREMONT, Ohio (Sept. 28, 2013) – It had been two weeks since the World of Outlaws drivers hit the dirt. Last weekend’s rain outs at Eldora (Ohio) and Lernerville (Pennsylvania) sidelined the Outlaws competitors until tonight’s event at Fremont Speedway.
A strong field of 46 winged sprint cars came to compete in the sixth-ever Outlaws event at this track.
In preliminary action, Joey Saldana drove the Motter Equipment Beltline Body Shop Fatheadz Eyewear 71M to the No. 5 qualifying position, lapping the one-third mile oval in 12.240 seconds. David Gravel with quick time, Saldana, and No. 8 qualifier Steve Kinser were the only three WoO drivers in the top 10 in qualifying with Ohio drivers dominating.
Saldana started the fifth heat race from the fourth starting position. When the field went green, Saldana and Craig Mintz tangled and went end over end. Also caught up in
the melee were Craig Dollanksy, Paige Polyak and Brad Bowman. All drivers were okay and most went to the work area. Polyak was the only driver able to continue. Saldana, Mintz and Bowman were unable to make repairs in time to rejoin the field. Saldana was credited with a ninth place finish.
For only the fifth time this season, and not since March 23 in Chico, Calif., Saldana
was forced to try to work his way into the A-Main via the B-Main. Saldana took the green from the fifth starting position but was shuttled to the sixth position early in the race. Saldana spent most of the 12-lap B-Main battling Byron Reed for fifth. He was unable to pass Reed and in the closing laps of the race, Kerry Madsen slid by Saldana who finished seventh. With only four drivers transferring from the B-Main to the feature, Saldana opted to take a provisional 25th starting position in the A-Main.
After two failed attempts to start the 40-lap A-Main, when the green finally flew, pole sitter Caleb Griffith assumed the lead followed by Brain Sebetto, Daryn Pittman and Donny Schatz who gave the capacity crowd quite a show racing three wide for second place. A ledge started to develop on the cushion. Though the cushion was the fast way around the track, it was tricky and technical and a misstep could pull a car into the wall.
After a variety of yellow flags and restarts, Schatz took the lead on lap 9. With 10 laps complete, Byron Reed stopped on the track with a flat tire. At this juncture, so many laps had been run that Outlaws officials threw a red flag so that teams could refuel.
On the restart, Schatz took the lead with Griffith and Pittman trading second place.
The caution came out on lap 14 when Cap Henry slowed to a stop on the track.
The restart order was Schatz, Pittman (the two drivers battling for the Outlaws point lead), and Griffith. At the green, Schatz led and Griffith got by Pittman. Sebetto tagged Pittman while trying to pass, sending Pittman spinning.
At the halfway mark, Saldana had worked his way up to the 17th position.
With 28 laps complete, the red flag was displayed when Cap Henry flipped upside down. Henry was not injured. With 12 laps to go, the restart order was Schatz, Sebetto, Griffith, and Dale Blaney. Saldana was 16th.
One lap later, Shane Stewart, Sheldon Haudenschild, Jason Sides and Dean Jacobs tangled, bringing out the yellow though Stewart was able to stay under power. After more stops and starts, at the end of 40 laps Schatz took the Fremont victory for the Outlaws. The Ohio contingent rounded out the podium, with Caleb Griffith second and Brian Sebetto third. Saldana was credited with a 13th place finish.
In his post-race interview, Schatz joked that he had just won the Fremont 500 because so many laps had been run. The evening was a marathon.
“We had a good race car tonight,” said a disappointed Saldana. “But the accident in the heat damaged a lot of parts and tweaked the GF1 chassis a bit. That put us behind all night and we were working as hard as we could to get the car on the track but we didn’t have time to keep up with changing track conditions.
“We want to thank the GF1 personnel for helping us make repairs. They were a great
help in getting the repairs completed in time to get back on track.
“We are headed to GF1 headquarters this week to pick up a new chassis and prepare for the remainder of the season.”
Next on the Outlaws agenda is a Williams Grove doubleheader Oct. 4-5.