PEVELY, MO (August 8, 2009) Powered by VP’s M1 Methanol, Joey Saldana made history in a couple of ways Saturday winning the inaugural Ironman 55 at I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Missouri before a huge crowd, to take home the $20,000 top prize. In addition to putting his name in the record books as the first ever victor in the Ironman 55, he also scored his 13 th triumph of the season which set a new career high for him with the World of Outlaws. It was the 52 nd of his World of Outlaws career, moving him to ninth on the all-time list, one ahead of Jac Haudenschild. It was Saldana’s first victory since July 8, which was a span of 13 races, the longest he had gone this season without a win.
“This is a very important race,” said Saldana. “It’s the first one and nobody ever forgets who won the first one. Thanks to everyone for going through all of the hard work to make this event and the track preparation that’s what made it a great race tonight. Thanks to the fans that stuck with us and made it happen.”
Saldana started fourth in the Budweiser Maxim and moved into second on the opening lap and quickly began to chase his teammate Craig Dollansky for the lead. Dollansky entered traffic for the first time on the sixth lap and Saldana kept pace with him as they weaved their way through the slower machines. Dollansky was really held up on the 18 th lap, allowing Saldana to close right in on him. On the next lap, Saldana used a textbook slide job coming off turn four to take the top spot. He would pace the field for the remaining 37 circuits enduring one more caution and negotiating traffic for most of the remainder of the 55-lapper which was co-sanctioned with the All Star Circuit of Champions.
“It was a good run for us,” shared the winner. “We got a flat tire there and luckily we held on. We lost a race and a whole race car at Paducah (International Raceway in Kentucky) earlier this season because we blew a tire in the same situation. I’m glad it held air here tonight.”
The race began with Jason Meyers leading into turns one and two. A caution on the opening lap for Lance Dewease slowing on the track led to a complete restart. After a trip to the work area, Dewease who was scheduled to start on the pole had to tag the tail of the field moving third started Craig Dollansky to the pole position. He would lead from the outset with his teammate Saldana quickly moving into second.
A caution on the 30 th lap led to a fuel stop, as the drivers were right up against the determined number of laps they would be able to complete counting both the green flag and yellow flag laps.
Saldana had to nurse his car late in the going as his right rear tire had a hole in it and was going down. For the majority of the race, the second generation driver used the high side of the track just inches off the wall.
“I felt good on the bottom when I got Craig (Dollansky) there in lapped traffic,” noted the winner. “With a flat tire, anything could happen. I just wanted to keep it spinning and keep it going. At the end getting into (turn) one I was getting real tight and almost threw it away there a couple of times.”