MESQUITE, Texas — On a night when so many legends of sprint car racing reunited at a packed Devil’s Bowl Speedway, Daryn Pittman held off Joey Saldana to capture the $20,000 World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series Ted Johnson Memorial on Saturday night during the Texas Outlaw Nationals presented by American Racing Custom Wheels.
Saldana pulled even with Pittman in the waning laps before Pittman edged back ahead to close out his third victory of the season. Saldana held off Kerry Madsen to finish second with Madsen, Paul McMahan and Donny Schatz rounding out the top five.
More than 30 of the drivers who competed in the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series inaugural event in 1978 at Devil’s Bowl kicked off the day with a massive autograph session before racing took center stage.
McMahan and Saldana eventually led the 30-lap A-main to green at high-banked, half-mile Devil’s Bowl Speedway. Saldana’s Motter Equipment No. 71m jumped to the lead off of the highside of the track. Saldana held the lead on a lap two restart with Daryn Pittman in the Great Clips No. 9 Kasey Kahne Racing machine running second. McMahan made a run for second on the restart, but Pittman fended him off.
Saldana began running the bottom in one and two, and on lap 10 Pittman used a strong run on the top to pull even with Saldana down the backstretch. Pittman had the preferred line entering turns three and four and proceeded to cement the pass for the win.
The battle for second quickly picked up as Madsen began moving in on Saldana. Madsen duplicated the pass dropping Saldana to third. Madsen then started moving in on Pittman. Madsen had reeled him in on lap 15, but a caution flew as Danny Lasoski rolled to a stop on the backstretch.
Pitman chose the outside with Madsen starting to his inside. Pittman leapt to the lead with Madsen following. On lap 20 Saldana looked to the inside of turn one, but lost ground. Coming out of four the next lap Saldana got the run and completed the pass. Saldana running through the middle of three and four had found a lot of ground as Pittman continued to lead. On lap 25, Saldana made his move, and ran even with Pittman in front of packed grandstands.
Pittman had the preferred line and held off the charge. The following lap Pittman moved down in three and four en route to victory.
As a kid, Pittman and his family traveled from Owasso, Okla., to Devil’s Bowl Speedway to watch the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series. On Saturday night, seeing so many of those drivers watch him drive to victory was a special moment.
“To get a win here at Devil’s Bowl, a place that has obviously been special to me and my whole family … I don’t even know what to say,” Pittman said. “With all the people that were here, and Shane Carson and the amount of work he did to bring all those drivers back, and to honor Ted and just what this sport has gone through over the last 30 years, I’m just lucky to be a part of it for the short time I’ve been here.”
Saldana’s second-place finish earned him his second top five finish of the weekend.
“The big thing for me is that the bottom is usually good off of the bottom of two and I was just sticking to it,” said Saldana. “Normally I get stuck driving the top too much and I’m not on the bottom. Tonight I was on the bottom too much. To be in the top five with these guys two nights in a row at this track is a great effort by our whole team and we’ll take it.”
Madsen continues to showcase why he’s a championship contender, driving the American Racing Custom Wheels No. 29 Keneric Racing car into third place.
“We got by Joey and we were kind of catching Daryn in traffic and I thought I was very close to start battling Daryn (Pittman) for the lead and that’s when the yellow came out,” said Madsen. “I thought ‘that’s alright, we’re in good shape here.’ I was following Daryn, trying to be patient and I felt some rubber on the entrance of three and I’m like alright, and Daryn had found it but he was sliding up on the exit. For some reason I decided to search in the wrong spot and Joey went blowing by where I should have been. It was a great race I really enjoyed myself.”
The win pushes Pittman back to the championship lead with an eight-point lead over Paul McMahan. Donny Schatz who led coming into the day, fell to third, trailing Pittman by ten points.