Saldana Is Unlikely Nationals Pole Winner

Joey Saldana (71m) races under Craig Dollansky Thursday night at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway. (Mark Funderburk photo)
Joey Saldana (71m) races under Craig Dollansky Thursday night at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway. (Mark Funderburk photo)

KNOXVILLE, Iowa — Joey Saldana wasn’t on most people’s list of favorites to win the 53rd annual FVP Knoxville Nationals, but he’ll start on the pole in Saturday night’s $150,000-to-win 50-lap feature at Knoxville Raceway.

On Thursday night, Saldana was the fast qualifier, transferred through his heat and finished fifth in the feature to 483 points, the most of any driver during the two nights of qualifying for the Nationals.

Saldana’s effort came in the wake of a recent switch to GF1 chassis. “The way we have been running, who would have ever thought that we would be on the pole here,” said the driver of Dan Motter’s No. 71m. “Right now, I am feeling pretty good and we will enjoy it tomorrow.”

Saldana will share the front row with Brian Brown, who won Thursday night’s feature and was one of three drivers to collect 481 points. The other two — Shane Stewart and Justin Henderson — will share row two.

Brad Sweet and Paul McMahan start on row three with David Gravel, Kerry Madsen, Kevin Swindell and Cody Darrah rounding out the top 10.

The other six drivers locked into Saturday’s feature are Daryn Pittman, Steve Kinser, who failed to qualify last year, Danny Lasoski, Stevie Smith, Roger Crockett and Greg Hodnett.

Positions 17-20 in the feature will be awarded on Friday night.

None of the drivers locked into the top 10 spots in Saturday’s B main elected to withdraw and compete in Friday’s program.

Lynton Jeffrey, Scott Winters, Jason Sides, Donny Schatz, Tim Kaeding, Craig Dollansky, Terry McCarl, Ian Madsen, Dusty Zomer and Mark Dobmeier are the top 10 starters in that B main.



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Mike Kerchner
Mike Kerchner is a veteran racing journalist and has been a member of the SPEED SPORT family since joining Chris Economaki at National Speed Sport News in 1991. He is now the Editor-in-Chief of SPEED SPORT Magazine.