PETERSEN MEDIA- With just a handful of midget starts to his name, Joey Saldana took his Tarlton and Son Inc. backed midget to Du Quoin, IL on Saturday night to shake it down and make laps during the Battle at the Center, prior to the coveted Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, and the end result was a great one as Saldana earned his first career midget win.
“It is pretty cool to come out here, and put this thing in victory lane with Tarlton and Son Inc. on it, when we were just looking to make some good laps, “ Saldana expressed.
Admittedly being rusty in a midget, Saldana took advantage of the Chili Bowl warm up, and showed serious speed early, as he charged from fifth to first to win his heat race, before picking up the win in his qualifier from the front row, to earn the pole for the 40-lap feature event alongside midget ace, and 2014 Chili Bowl Champions, Bryan Clauson.
When the green flag waived, it was Clauson getting the early jump, as Saldana rode in the second spot, as he worked around the 1/6 mile speedway. Over the first twenty circuits it was all Clauson, but Saldana stayed in contention until the caution flag flew.
On the restart, Saldana went after Clauson but it was to no avail, as Clauson kept him at bay, as he soon had his hands full with Christopher Bell as they battled for the second spot.
The 26th lap saw Saldana fall to the third spot, and as he watched the lead duo battle, he took advantage of their misfortune on the 35th lap, and took command of the race.
Over the final five laps, Saldana was flawless as he fended off a charging Clauson to take home his first career midget win, and take some confidence into next month’s Chili Bowl.
“I wish my family was here because they would have enjoyed this, but I am happy I am able to head home and celebrate this with them ” Saldana added. “This goes to show what happens when you surround yourself with great people. I really can’t thank everyone involved on this team enough for all of their support.”
ON TAP: Saldana will be back aboard his Tarlton and Son Inc. No. 21 machine during the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals January 13-17th in Tulsa, OK.
STAY CONNECTED: Stay connected with Joey and his results by following him on Twitter @JoeySaldana or by following @Tarlton_Racing.
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PHOTO- TEEJAY CRAWFORD