Barberville,FL — Jan. 21, 2009 — Joey Saldana had the opportunity of a lifetime heading into the 2006 edition of the Alltel DIRTcar Nationals By UNOH. He had just teamed up with former Sprint Car driver and NASCAR star Kasey Kahne to drive full-time for the Washington native’s team on the World of Outlaws trail.
Saldana came out strong at the season-opening events at Volusia Speedway Park, edging future Hall of Famer Jac Haudenschild by a mere tenth of a second to earn his first win with the team in one of the closest finishes in the history of the Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH. In only 13 days, Saldana and the Kasey Kahne Racing crew will be back at Volusia Speedway Park to kick off the 2009 campaign, this time with a two-car team now that Craig Dollansky has joined KKR.
Haudenschild, Saldana and Pennsylvania Posse legend Fred Rahmer waged a race-long three-car battle that night in 2006 before Saldana powered past Rahmer in traffic and began to close on leader Haudenschild.
Haudenschild and Saldana raced through the low groove before Saldana shifted up the high-speed, half-mile oval and caught Haudenschild in the final corner. The crowd in the packed grandstands rose to its feet. Saldana and Haudenschild nearly made contact as Saldana used momentum from the high side of the track to try clear Haudenschild. They came off of the final corner side by side. Saldana’s momentum carried him forward just enough to edge Haudenschild at the checkered flag. The crowd went crazy. There could be no better way to start a season than with a breathtaking finish like that one.
“We knew Joey was right there, but our car felt good,” said the Wild Child after narrowly missing out on a victory. “I was pretty much locked down to the bottom. He got a run on me going into Turn 3 and had his momentum going. I saw him coming out of the corner. We were awful close to banging and we just got passed.”
Haudenschild wound up leading 24 and three-quarters laps of the 25-lap event. But it was Saldana in front — barely — for just the final few hundred feet.
To see who emerges as a star in the 38th running of the Alltel DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH, make sure to reserve your favorite seats in advance before they’re sold out. With infield trailer heights limited to 9 feet, 6 inches, there are no bad seats in the grandstands at Volusia Speedway Park, which is only 15 miles inland on State Road 40 from Ormond Beach, Fla.
Take advantage of special ‘Super Ticket’ deals that offer seats for all the events contested by each headline division, including six Sprint Car events (All-Star Circuit of Champions on Feb. 3-5, World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series on Feb. 6-8); eight nights of UMP DIRTcar Modified action (Feb. 3-10); six-nights of Dirt Late Model racing (Feb. 9-14); the and four Advance Auto Parts DIRTcar big-block Modified dates (Feb. 11-14).