BARBERVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 17, 2013) – The World Of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series concluded their third and final night of competition at the UNOH DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit in front of a big crowd braving a very cold Florida evening.
The Motter Equipments Fatheadz Eyewear team qualified 18th with a 13.522-second lap. Crew chief Davey Whitworth and the team made mechanical changes to improve upon the time of 15.476-seconds that Saldana turned in the hot lap session placing the 71M team 34th quickest.
“We are still struggling with finding the balance on this car,” explained Saldana, “but we definitely improved from the hot lap session.”
Saldana started fifth, on the inside, in the second heat race and battled with Kerry Madsen for the fifth and final transfer position. Driving on the high side because it was slick down low, Saldana couldn’t fend Madsen off. After eight laps it was Madsen fifth at the checkered flag and Saldana sixth.
Once again, Saldana would have to use a fourth-place showing or better in the 12-lap Last Chance Showdown to transfer to the feature. He sat on the pole of the LCS as he did two nights ago, and repeated a wire-to-wire victory, pulling away from the field, earning an 18th place starting position in the feature.
“This is the best the car has felt all weekend” Saldana said. “We are close now as I can drive the car anywhere I want to and it’s fast”.
But with 30 more laps in front of the team in the A-main, the common practice would be to tighten the car up a little bit for the feature as the track will usually slick off in 30 laps with 24 cars on it.
But the extreme cold temperatures (34°) had just the opposite effect and the moisture came up from the heat in the tires as the cars raced on the track and it got stickier and heavy.
The 30-lap feature was wild with cars all over the track. The yellow flag flew on lap 12 when Brooke Tatnell slowed to a stop in turn three. By that time, the 71M was so tight that we actually got a lap down and our chance of moving forward was all but over. With 27 laps complete, it took several tries to get to the checker. Initially Craig Dollansky brought the yellow out when he made contact with the rear tire of Justin Henderson and did a pirouette up on all four tires, landing right side up. An attempt was made for a green and not a lap went into the record books before contact caused Terry McCarl’s car to come to a stop. And before the field could complete another green lap, leader Chad Kemenah was penalized for driving below the cone on the single file restart while Cody Darrah slowed with a flat front tire. There was so much mud flying, Kemenah was out of tear-offs on his helmet and couldn’t see the orange cone to start the race. The green waved again, but the red flag was displayed when Steve Kinser got sideways, Brad Sweet caught a wheel and flipped end over end, and Jac Haudenschild had no place to go and ended up sitting on top of the turn two inside wall. After an open red flag period where crews could make any change to their cars except change the tires, the race was finally completed with Danny Lasoski winning the feature, and Joey Saldana coming home in the 16th position.
Daryn Pittman, the overall three-day winner of the UNOH DIRTcar Nationals Presented by Summit, was awarded the distinctive gator trophy.
The 71M now heads back to Joey Saldana’s shop in Brownsburg, Ind. to regroup and analyze the past three days of racing. The team will get a well-deserved few days off, as they have not taken a single day off since New Year’s getting the cars and transporter ready for Florida.
We return to the track in Las Vegas on March 6th and 7th.