ANTIOCH, Calif. – The World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series played to a full house at Antioch Speedway. Fans were hoping the tradition of exciting, ‘bring the crowd to its feet’ racing would continue as in years past. A field of 35 hopefuls came to vie for the 24 starting positions in the night’s A-Main, and ultimately, the event trophy.
And tonight’s action did not disappoint. A solid performance by the 71M team and driver Joey Saldana notched a second place finish, their second this season and third top five finish.
Motter Motorsports Fatheadz Eyewear 71M driver Saldana was the evening’s No. 10 qualifier turning an 11.921-second lap around the 3/8-mile track, acquiring the No. 2 starting position in the second heat.
When the green flew to start the heat, Shane Golobic, the pole sitter, took the lead followed by Saldana, Paul McMahan, Kyle Larson and Jason Sides. The Antioch track was fast, but not wide and within a couple of laps the field started to spread out. At the checker it was Golobic first, Saldana second, McMahan third, followed by Sides and Larson.
Finishing second in his heat guaranteed the Brownsburg Bullet a starting position in the all-important dash. The ping pong ball with the No. 8 was drawn for the dash inversion, and as a result, Saldana was awarded the No. 3 starting position.
“This was a great inversion draw for us,” said Saldana, “and we hope to be able to capitalize on it. This is a tricky track.”
Pole sitter Shane Golobic set a slow pace to bring the dash field down for the green, but once the green waved, every driver worked feverishly to maintain or gain a position. At the finish stripe, Saldana was fourth, the same position in which he would start the 30-lap A-Main.
Before the field could make their four-wide salute to the fans in the feature, there were two noteworthy incidents: Chad Kemenah had an ignition box failure which the crew was able to switch out before the start of the race, and Kerry Madsen’s car just stopped. Madsen tried to refire but could not get his issue resolved in time so first alternate 15-year-old Dominic Scelzi got his shot at an A-Main start.
The feature was a fight to the finish from the waving of the green. The 30 laps saw a lead change and a fight for second, third and fourth that was a thriller. By lap five, the leaders were into lapped traffic but by mid-race Saldana had gained two positions and was riding in second with Tim Kaeding and Cody Darrah trying to muscle Saldana out of the way. The gutsy Brownsburg Bullet started moving around the track to find better footing, riding with four wheels over the cushion, darting high and low, gaining on leader Shane Golobic. Saldana was able to shave half a second off the interval, but ran out of laps before he could catch eventual winner Golobic. Saldana crossed the finish line next, the second happiest finisher at Antioch Speedway.
“Shane did a good job in lapped traffic which was key,” said Saldana in a post-race interview. “I was hoping to do the same so I started moving around. It seemed like the race was over with fast. We definitely will take the second place finish. The Motter Motorsports team has been digging hard and it was a good night for us.”
“We are very proud of our team,” said an excited Dan Motter, team owner. “We recently made a switch to Penske Shocks which worked to our advantage tonight, and we have a great group of sponsors backing our effort. Joey did a masterful job behind the wheel and the team made some great tuning and set-up calls.”
This was the team’s second runner-up effort, having secured a second-place finish in Tucson, Ariz. in March.
The much-anticipated Calistoga event scheduled for tomorrow was cancelled today due to heavy storms and persistent drizzle that have plagued the area this week. The event will not be rescheduled.
The next event on the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car schedule is Hanford, Calif. April 12 followed by Perris, Calif. April 13, which wraps the early season West Coast swing.