HAUBSTADT, Ind. —Tim Kaeding watched as Joey Saldana and Cody Darrah leaned on each other for 24 laps in a battle for the lead Saturday night at Tri-State Speedway before the two collided, ending their nights and putting Kaeding in prime position for his third World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series victory of the season.
After Saldana and Darrah swapped the lead four times in the first half of the race, Kaeding took command on lap 25, fought off David Gravel in heavy traffic down the stretch, and earned the second victory in his five career starts at the high-banked, quarter-mile oval. Gravel wound up second with Paul McMahan, Dale Blaney and Kerry Madsen rounding out the top five in the 40-lap A-main.
“We put ourselves in contention right at the get-go,” said Kaeding, of San Jose, Calif. “We had a great racecar all night. We just tippy-toed around there for the first half of the race, watching Joey and Cody. They got racing a little bit too hard and crashed and we kind of fell into it and definitely got the win. I’m going to take it and be happy about it.”
Once in front, Kaeding put his car on the top of the banking while Gravel tried the bottom. The final 15 laps were run caution-free.
“We kind of knew this place was going to get up on the curb,” Kaeding said. “That’s something we get back home a lot. David Gravel showed his nose there a little bit at the end. Props to him, subbing for Bill Rose he’s done an awesome job for him. I hope somebody puts him on the road. He’d be a good commodity for this sport.”
Gravel was more interested in winning a second career Outlaw victory, and nearly pulled off the feat but Kaeding wouldn’t be denied.
“Lapped cars were starting to be a factor there late in the race,” said Gravel. “I just went where he wasn’t. We were close, just a little short.”
After struggling in the past two events, McMahan rebounded at Tri-State. He posted his third quick-time of the season then raced in the top five throughout the A-main to wind up third, which helped to propel him to second in the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series championship standings behind leader Daryn Pittman.
“Any time you’re on the podium it’s a good night,” said McMahan, a California native who lives near Nashville, Tenn. “We had a pretty good car, quick time and had a good run in the dash. It just wasn’t very good on restarts at the end. David got by me on a restart. I was kind of stuck behind Joey there but I don’t think I could have held David back. A top three for the CJB Motorsports car is a good night, we’ve been having a little bit of bad luck the last couple of races so to come back here with a brand new motor that Paul Kistler just delivered to us and run on the podium is a good night.”