OSBORN, Mo. — Joey Saldana fit the definition of an elbows-up racer on Saturday at U.S. 36 Raceway, where he hustled around the fast track to capture the FVP Missouri High-Banked Nationals.
The win was Saldana’s first with the National Sprint League and his fifth triumph of the season with the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series.
“This is unbelievable,” he said. “I’ve been struggling of late. Actually I’ve been struggling all year. We’ve had some good cars. This is what I wanted. At least tonight we did a good job and finished the whole night off.”
Saldana took the lead from polesitter Danny Lasoski, who paced the field for the first four laps, on a restart on lap five. While Saldana led the final 31 laps of the main event he wasn’t without numerous challenges.
Lasoski gave chase for the two thirds of the feature. He pulled even with Saldana on Lap 25, but was unable to take the lead. That opened the door for Jason Johnson to make a bid for the top spot.
Johnson passed Lasoski and was all over Saldana during the final 10 laps of the race. He took several shots at a pass, but Saldana was able to fend off every challenge on the hooked-up, high-banked track.
“I’m pretty sure Jason Johnson has been working out this year,” Saldana said. “I’ve always worked out quite a bit since I got hurt. It definitely pays off in situations like this. When I got to the lapped cars at the end I knew if I tried too hard or did something stupid I’d lose the race.”
Saldana’s win gives him two straight at the track as he won the most recent World of Outlaws race at the oval in 2009.
Johnson’s runner-up result was his second podium finish in the last three races and his fourth since winning the 5-Hour ENERGY Knoxville Nationals last month.
“That was a lot of fun,” he said. “Look at Joey. He’s as fit as can be. He’s tough. I stuffed it in there a couple of times. I gave it my best effort. It seems like we’’ve come into form the last month.”
David Gravel advanced to third place on lap 28 and held on for the podium result.
“It was real physical,” he said. “Typically I don’t get tired with my hands. I was gripping so hard just to not let go. We’re happy to finish on the podium. The left rear came off the ground the first lap so I was like, ‘Man, I’ve just got to finish.’ You just had to man up there. It was one of those things where you man up and just drive the car.”
Shane Stewart garnered the fourth-place result with Brad Sweet passing Lasoski for fifth coming to the white flag.