by Katie Boyer on May 6, 2011
Image Credit: Katie Boyer
After a crash at Eldora in the series’ last visit to the high banks in 2010, Joey Saldana came in to Friday night’s Outlaw Thunder event with a vengeance. The crash in turn three last season sent Saldana to the hospital, giving him a concussion and keeping him from competing in the following night’s event. The sit out took Saldana out of championship contention, finishing the season with a fourth place finish when the championship was just within reach.
But that wasn’t the case Friday night at Eldora Speedway.
In hot laps, the top five runners were the 63 of Chad Kemenah, the 11 of Steve Kinser, the 83 of Paul McMahan, the 15H of Sam Hafertepe Jr. and the 14 of Jason Meyers.
In time trials, Kemenah set the pace once again, laying down a lap of 13.138. Saldana was second fast with a lap of 13.307. The remaining top five qualifiers were Jason Meyers with a 13.314, Sam Hafertepe Jr. with a 13.352 and Dale Blaney with a 13.391.
Heat one was dominated by the 27 of Daryn Pittman with the 91 of Cody Darrah finishing second and the 63 of Kemenah in third. Heat two was won by Joey Saldana with the 92 of Kerry Madsen taking the second spot and the 7TW of Brandon Wimmer in third. Heat three was won by the 15 of Donny Schatz with the 11 of Steve Kinser in second and the 14 of Jason Meyers in third. The fourth and final heat was won by the 1 of Sammy Swindell with the 83 of Paul McMahan in second and the 6 of Jac Haudenschild finishing third.
In the dash, Kinser and Meyers started side by side on the front row with Saldana and Kemenah in row two. At the drop of the green flag, Saldana took the high line to take the lead on the backstretch. It was smooth sailing from that point on with Saldana dominating to take the win, with Kinser finishing second and Meyers bringing home the third position.
Image Credit: Indiana Open Wheel Forums
The A-main started in exciting fashion with Saldana and Kinser running side by side at the line. The 9 jumped out to an early lead, with Kinser and Meyers lining up behind him to make up the top three positions. But the cars wouldn’t have the chance to break away before the red flag was flying for Sammy Swindell as the Big Game Tree Stands machine went airborne in turn four. Swindell was able to get out of his mangled machine and make his way back to the pit area. At the restart, Saldana chose the high line, which he favored all evening long.
The green didn’t come out for long before the yellow was out for Blaney, after getting into the wall hard on the frontstretch, having a tire go down on thebackstretch, bringing the 2 machine to a stop. Under the caution flag both Blaney and Madsen headed to the work area to make repairs to their cars. However, only Blaney made it back on track in time to continue. At the restart, Saldana, Kinser and Schatz were three-wide for the top spot. Saldana was able to use the high line to keep the 9 machine up front, but Schatz had worked his way under Kinser to steal that second spot, setting his sights on the lead. Saldana was on rails on the high side, while Schatz was working the bottom line. Lap traffic began taking a toll on the big lead Saldana had put on the field. Schatz began reeling Saldana in every lap. After the 9 got slowed by lap traffic on the high side, the 15 went to the point on lap 14 on the front stretch. Schatz didn’t keep the lead for long, Saldana was charging back and took the top spot back on lap 16.
The top two were running nose to tail before the caution flag flew again after Haudenschild got sideways in turn two, slowing way down, and Meyers couldn’t get his car slowed down, running right into the side of the Wild Child, breaking his front axle and rolling the car over onto its side on lap 20. As the field lined back up for the restart, Schatz had gotten back around Saldana, opting to take the outside line, trying to get the 9 out of his groove. However, at the start, the 9 was able to get back in his rhythm and take the lead on the backstretch. The 83 of McMahan had worked his way up to the third position, getting around the 15H of Hafertepe.
The battle was heating up again for the lead before the yellow was back out, this time for the 11 of Kinser who crashed in turn three, taking his car straight to the hauler. Again, Saldana chose the outside lane for the restart, getting a solid jump at the start, putting several car lengths between he and Schatz. Hafertepe took the opportunity to slide under Schatz in turns one and two to battle for the second spot. The battle of the 15 machines was getting intense, as the two fought side by side for the spot, watching Saldana get further and further away. Hafertepe was able to take the spot and tried his hand at chasing down the 9 machine. However, the gap was more than ten car lengths, with the white flag in the air. When the 30 lap feature was finished, it was the dominant Saldana who took the win in the first of two Outlaw Thunder events. Hafertepe ended up with the second position, coming from an 11th starting position. The biggest mover of the race was the W20 of Greg Wilson, who started 23rd and finished in the 5th position.
Here are the full A-main results: 9, 15H, 15, 83, W20, 83X, 7S, 6, 7, 91, 2, 7TW, 27, 63, 2M, 5W, 49, 89G, 11, 14, 2B, 6M, 6R, 92, 1.
Tomorrow night the Outlaws will be back in action at the Big E, for night number two of the Outlaw Thunder event. The night will pay $10,000 to win, and the fans will be welcome to head down to the pit area from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm for a pit party to meet their favorite drivers. Tune back in tomorrow night for a full recap of the night’s event!