Silver Dollar Speedway
Saldana takes home the win in Friday night Gold Cup preliminary race
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="420"] HRP Photo of Steve Cox[/caption]
Saldana dove under Sides on the 27th lap to take the spot and held off a furious charge on the last lap to earn his 17th overall win of the 2009 World of Outlaws season. It was his second win of the season at Silver Dollar Speedway and the fifth of his career at the ï¿½-mile bullring.
"It was a great effort for this team tonight, said Saldana. "Jason (Sides) had a great car and it was just lapped traffic. I actually had the top working there and thought we'd be ok when we got to Jason because that's how I got around Brent (Kaeding). It seemed like everyone running the bottom threw a bunch of loose stuff up there and I couldn't run there anymore. I had to then be patient and wait for lapped traffic. Then he started to move and once he moved that's what won me the race."
Sides jumped out to an early lead from the pole, with the first caution of the night flying on the second lap. He used a strong restart to quickly pull away from Brent Kaeding who was running second. Saldana started fourth in the Budweiser Maxim and took third on the opening circuit from Tommy Tarlton.
Sides encountered lapped traffic for the first time on the fifth lap and began to pull away at this point as Saldana battled Kaeding for the runner-up spot. Saldana would take the position on the 11th lap and set his sights on Sides. Saldana closed on the leader a couple of times, but Sides was able to clear the lapped cars first and extend his lead in open track. The second caution of the night flew on the 19th lap as Kaeding was all over Saldana for second. At this time, Sides had some engine trouble which would hamper him for the remainder of the 30-lapper.
"I was trying everything I could," stated Saldana of the three restarts. "I thought the top would be all right, but there was so much crumbly stuff up there that you spun (the tires) on exit (of the corner). I could stay with him through the center, but it just wasn't going to happen. I went back to the bottom and just rode around and tried to hang with him until we got to lapped traffic."
After the race went back green on the 19th lap, the only red flag of the night flew for a four car accident, leading to another restart. Sides opened a couple of car length lead on the ensuing restart and with 10 laps had a sizeable lead in open track. With six laps remaining he found himself in lapped traffic, allowing Saldana to close back in. On the 25th lap Sides was held up in lapped traffic and Saldana looked high in turns one and two for the lead. On the next lap Saldana went low in turns three and four and shot under Sides to take the point. Sides battled back and came up just 0.221 short of the win.
"My car was really loose," explained the winner. "We kept freeing it up and actually in the feature, I wish I could have stopped and tightened my car up and then I think we would have been really good. Then I could have run the top and it wouldn't have been an issue. Tomorrow I guarantee we'll tighten it up a lot more for 40 laps. It's $50,000 to win, not 5 so we'll definitely have a better car tomorrow."
Sides ended up finishing second in the Wetherington Tractor Service, after driving the final 11 laps on just seven cylinders. He paced the field for the first 26 laps as he chased his first career win at Silver Dollar Speedway.
"We broke a rocker arm on the second restart," said Sides. "It made it tough with how good the track was and how wet the track was it. It made the motor bog down and stumble. Each time we had a restart, you could kind of run it how you needed to be and keep it freed up and the wheels spinning, but when you got behind lapped cars it just really slowed down and chugged out."
Kaeding ended up third to match his son Tim's finish in the opener of the Gold Cup on Friday night. The elder Kaeding ran second early in the race and never was out of the Top-Five. It was the second consecutive year that he finished third in the second night of the Gold Cup aboard the Al's Roofing Supply Maxim.
"It was a really good run," Kaeding said. "We had one motor that had 14 nights on it and now has 15. We weren't even going to come up here. My boys just pushing me really hard to come up here since we ran good here last year. It's fun to be here and fun to run well. It's good to do well here at a hometown track. We're looking forward to tomorrow night, though it's already been a success for us and all of the guys that work so hard to make this happen."
Sides began the night by turning the fastest lap in time trials of the 41 cars that took to the track. He followed that up with a second place finish in the first heat and coupled with his runner-up finish in the main event, he earned the most overall points on the night and the most of the 76 drivers that took part in one of the qualifying nights for the event. Saldana earned the second most points overall, with Sammy Swindell third, Tim Kaeding fourth and Jason Meyers fifth. The latter three all competed on Thursday night in the opener of the Gold Cup.
"For the most part it was great for us, to be the high point guy," noted Sides. "We know we are in the main tomorrow night and if we have to give one up, this is the one to give up if we can win tomorrow night."
Kaeding closed in a couple of times on Sides early in the race in traffic as he looked for his first World of Outlaws win since 1997. He gained a significant amount of ground late in the race in traffic, and just about a half a second behind Sides at the finish and just eight-tenths of a second behind Saldana.
"A few of them were tough to get around, but most of them get out of the way for me late in the race," shared Kaeding of lapped traffic. "It was a little struggle for the leaders and I was hoping that maybe they would have a little more trouble and I would sneak in there. I just wanted to come home with a decent finish so it's good to be here in third."
Lucas Wolfe finished fourth on Friday night to earn the best finish of his career at Silver Dollar Speedway aboard the Allebach Racing Maxim.
Brad Furr came home fifth in the Ray Sheets Electric Eagle to earn his first Top-Five finish with the World of Outlaws since 2003. Tommy Tarlton was sixth in the Tachi Palace Casino Eagle to earn his best career finish with the World of Outlaws. Shane Stewart was seventh piloting the K&B Racing ART. Donny Schatz was eighth in the Armor All J&J, with Roger Crockett ninth in the Omlid-Swinney Fire Protection KPC. Wayne Johnson rounded out the Top-10 in the Hamm Construction Maxim.
The 56th Annual Gold Cup Race of Champions at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, California wraps up on Saturday, September 12 with the 40-lap $50,000-to-win A-Feature event.