SARVER, Pa. — official release — John Stivason photo — What a difference two days makes.
Joey Saldana entered the weekend with a 41-race winless streak hanging over him. Then he won Friday at Eldora Speedway and followed that up with his second win in as many nights and seventh World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series victory of the season after he captured the Commonwealth Clash at Lernerville Speedway on Saturday.
With just one prior win at Lernerville and less than stellar 18th and 21st place finishes at the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup at the track earlier this season, Saldana said it felt great to get this win for his Motter Equipment team.
“It’s just a great effort by our team,” Saldana said. “When we came here earlier this season I was absolutely terrible. So for them to look at the notes and make the car better – it’s the same car, the same engine – so you just have to work on what you have and make it better. Tonight we did and we had a car good enough to win an Outlaws show.”
The Brownsburg, Ind. native took the lead on the first lap of the feature and held it to the checkered flag, but spent much of the night fending off David Gravel.
“[Gravel] definitely made me get my elbows up to make sure I was going to win it,” Saldana said. “Otherwise I was going to get passed. We had a really good car, we could move around.”
Saldana also had a little luck on his side, benefitting from the heat inversion and the full field inversion of the dash that put him on the front row. He said track position meant a lot.
Following his win, Saldana moved into the fourth place position in the championship standings with a narrow one point lead over fifth place Kerry Madsen.
Harrisonville, Pa. native Logan Wagner, who is in his first year in a 410 sprint car, won his heat race and the Dash earlier in the night. He started on the pole for the A main next to Saldana. When the green flag waved, Wagner led the field into turn one. His hold on the lead was tenuous though as Saldana battled past him on the bottom of turn two and went on to lead the first lap.
As Saldana built up a lead, the battle for second commenced between Wagner and Gravel. The battle raged for much of the first ten laps with Wagner holding second. Just after the two crossed the start/finish line on lap 11, contact with Gravel sent Wagner into the inside wall and ended his night.
“Sorry for Logan, getting into him,” Gravel said. “It was a racing deal obviously, it wasn’t on purpose. He was having a great run.”
As the race returned to green, Saldana fought to hold off Gravel who was especially good on the exit of turn two. The two were side-by-side on laps 14 and 28 but Gravel could not make the pass.
“I felt like the bottom was better and I felt like behind lapped cars I was just out there slipping, not driving forward,” Saldana said. “So I went back to the top a couple of times and he got a run on me so I went back to the bottom.”
The bottom was good for Paul McMahan too. In the closing laps, after fighting his way forward from a seventh place starting position, McMahan got around then third place Shane Stewart on the bottom of turns three and four.
The checkered flag fell on Saldana with Gravel in second and McMahan in third.
Gravel said Saldana played a smart race, protecting his line and making it nearly impossible to get around him.
“We had a really good car,” Gravel said. “The motor wouldn’t take off that good but the car handled great. We had a lot of shots at Joey. I just couldn’t get by him on the straightaway. But with like three to go the motor was blowing up so I just thought I would maintain there and just had to finish. I can’t thank my guys enough and Dennis and Teresa Roth.”
It was a night of overcoming adversity for third place finisher McMahan whose CJB Motorsports team changed an engine just prior to the feature. McMahan said the previous engine had not yet failed but that it did not feel right.
“I’m just happy to be here right now,” McMahan said of his podium finish. “We were back there thrashing, changing motors after the dash. They were blowing horns before we’d even gotten heat in it and we’re still bolting headers on and everything else. Hats off to (crew members) Barry, Shane and Scotty for busting butt and getting that motor changed in the time of the B main there.”
From start-to-finish, McMahan said it took his team about 11 minutes to finish the motor change. This was the 42nd top-five finish of the season for McMahan.
Brad Sweet was the recipient of the KSE Hard Charger award Saturday night after advancing eight positions to finish in 11th.
The World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series returns to Indiana for the final time this season for Indy Race Parts presents the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series at Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway on Friday, Sept. 26. The Outlaws then head north to take on Berlin Speedway in Marne, Mich. on Saturday, Sept. 27.
World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series Statistical Report; Lernerville Speedway; Sarver, Pa.; Sept. 20, 2014
A-Main – (35 Laps) – 1. 71M-Joey Saldana  [$10,000]; 2. 83-David Gravel  [$5,500]; 3. 51-Paul McMahan  [$3,200]; 4. 2-Shane Stewart  [$2,800]; 5. 10H-Danny Holtgraver  [$2,500]; 6. 15-Donny Schatz  [$2,300]; 7. 7-Craig Dollansky  [$2,200]; 8. 29-Kerry Madsen  [$2,100]; 9. 1s-Logan Schuchart  [$2,050]; 10. 45-Tim Shaffer  [$2,000]; 11. 49-Brad Sweet  [$1,500]; 12. 11K-Kraig Kinser  [$1,200]; 13. 9-Daryn Pittman  [$1,100]; 14. 11-Steve Kinser  [$1,050]; 15. 19M-Brent Marks  [$1,000]; 16. 7S-Jason Sides  [$900]; 17. 4-Cody Darrah  [$800]; 18. 5W-Lucas Wolfe  [$800]; 19. 8-Rod George  [$800]; 20. 49X-Cole Duncan  [$800]; 21. 2L-Ed Lynch Jr  [$800]; 22. RG3-Logan Wagner  [$800]; 23. W20-Greg Wilson  [$800]; 24. 19-Paige Polyak  [$800].
Lap Leaders: Joey Saldana 1-35.
KSE Hard Charger Award: 49-Brad Sweet [+8]
Qualifying – 1. 2L-Ed Lynch Jr, 12.687