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Dirt Notes: TMS To Host Championship

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Thursday, January 28 2010
Big dirt track event scheduled for February at Texas Motor Speedway. (Photo courtesy of Texas Motor Speedway)

Big dirt track event scheduled for February at Texas Motor Speedway. (Photo courtesy of Texas Motor Speedway)

RacinToday.com

Fort Worth, Texas _ Entries for next month’s Texas World Dirt Track Championship are beginning to roll in, as over 80 drivers have pre-registered for the Feb. 25-27 event.

One of the largest dirt track races in the country, the Texas World Dirt Track Championship features SUPR Late Models, Modified and Limited Modified divisions. The event here attracted a record 397 entries in the three divisions last year.

TMS officials are encouraging drivers to pre-register, and have added an incentive for Modified and Limited Modified drivers that do so. Modified and Limited Modified competitors who register by Feb. 12 and do not qualify for their feature events will receive a chance to earn one of two provisional positions at the rear of the field. The positions will be randomly drawn from a pool of pre-registered drivers.

“Our crew is working hard to get the surface of the track ready for the event,” said Cameron Branch, general manager of Lone Star Legends and the Texas Motor Speedway Dirt Track. “The Texas World Dirt Track Championship is one of the premier dirt track events in the nation and we expect some exciting racing with the number of entries we’re estimating.”

Action begins with practice Thursday, Feb. 25, followed by qualifying and heats for the Modifieds and Limited Modifieds on Friday, Feb. 26. The weekend concludes with feature races for Modifieds, Limited Modifieds and SUPR Late Models on Saturday, Feb. 27.

For a Texas World Dirt Track Championship registration form, visit www.texasmotorspeedway.com.

Kasey Kahne Racing will field a two car team on the World of Outlaws trail again in 2010, pitting veteran Joey Saldana, who led the World of Outlaws with 20 A-Feature wins last year, with rookie Cody Darrah, who scored his first win with the series last fall at his home track of Williams Grove Speedway.

The pair will kick off the 2010 campaign February 5-7 with the 39th Annual Florida DIRTcar Nationals by the University of Northwestern Ohio at Volusia Speedway Park, just down the road from Daytona, where their boss will be in action.

Saldana, who is returning for his fifth season with the team owned by the NASCAR star, won on the second night of the DIRTcar Nationals last season, edging Jason Sides in a last lap thriller. It was the second time in his career that Saldana has won a last lap battle during the World of Outlaws portion of the DIRTcar Nationals, as he also came out on top in a drag race with Jac Haudenschild down the front straightaway at the half-mile in 2006.

“I’m definitely ready,” said Saldana of starting the season. “This is the first time in eight years that I have not raced through Christmas. Usually I’ll race in Australia and New Zealand and then have a couple of weeks off before the season. My last race this year was around Thanksgiving. I’ve had a lot of time off and am ready now to get back racing.”

Darrah made his debut for Kasey Kahne Racing last year at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park in New York, finishing sixth in that event. The native of Red Lion, Penn., has opened each of the last three seasons in the DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway. He set fast time in his debut at the half-mile in 2007 and followed that by being quickest again in time trials the following year. He has qualified fourth or better in six of his nine career starts at Volusia with the World of Outlaws.

“I’m very excited for the season,” said Darrah. “It’s going to be a very big year for me as a driver and a very big year for our team Kasey Kahne Racing. “

Saldana is excited to see Kahne tap into a young driver and provide the chance of a lifetime for someone who is just as passionate about sprint car racing as he is. Saldana was 33 years old when he joined Kasey Kahne Racing, after spending a number of years bouncing from ride to ride on the World of Outlaws tour.

“I think it’s pretty neat that Kasey is going out on a limb and giving an opportunity to someone that otherwise may have never gotten the opportunity to race at this level,” shared Saldana of Darrah. “I know when I was his age I would have died to have had the opportunity that he has.”

While Darrah admits there is a certain amount of pressure involved in driving for a high profile team such as Kasey Kahne Racing and having a championship caliber teammate in Saldana, he looks to start the season on a consistent note and learn each and every time he takes to the track. The 2010 season will be a learning experience for Darrah on many levels and he is looking forward to learning from some of the best in the sport.

“When you drive for Kasey Kahne, the expectations are to do nothing but win,” Darrah stated. “It’s a wonderful deal for a driver here at Kasey Kahne Racing and you couldn’t ask for anything better. The guys at the shop have been working very hard. He (Kasey) is as excited as I am for this year. We have a great group of guys working on this thing and everyone is working together to use their resources as best as they can.”

Saldana, who finished 11th in points and claimed the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award in his first full year on the road in 1996, points out that there are many factors involved in being successful with the World of Outlaws. With the demands of the schedule, it leaves a driver little time away from the track.

“Hopefully he takes it and runs with it and works hard at and puts a lot of effort into it,” stated Saldana. “It’s not easy. Just because you have a great team, a great owner and great people behind you, doesn’t mean you’re going to run well. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication. I think he wants this and wants to be an Outlaws driver. You have to want to be an Outlaws driver, not just a driver to succeed our here. It’s very tough and very demanding. I just hope he takes the opportunity and runs with it.’

Along with being teamed with Saldana, Darrah will have veteran crew chief Bonzai Bruns turning the wrenches for him along with experienced crew members on both his car and his teammate’s machine, which he looks to help lessen the learning curve that he’ll face heading to tracks that he will be making his debut at.

“Having Joey (Saldana) as a teammate will be a great resource,” noted the rookie. “We’ll going to a lot of tracks that I have never seen and I’ll be able to able to talk to him and get information. He’s a great coach and so many of the tracks that I have never seen, he has won it. We have so many great resources within out team do nothing but good.”

Saldana has competed with the World of Outlaws full-time for the better part of the last 10 years, and has learned many priceless things over the years and is quick to point out that any young driver needs to stayed focused and be patient when competing against the best sprint car drivers in the world night in and night out. Saldana has become more patient the older he has gotten and is able to adapt to the countless situations that present themselves on a typical race night as well as over the course of the always demanding World of Outlaws season.

“He doesn’t have to go out and win 20 races like I did last year,” explained Saldana of Darrah. “It took me a long time to get to that level. He’s got to be patient with himself and the team will be patient with him, then he’ll be fine.”

A full week of Sprint Car racing during the DIRTcar Nationals By UNOH kicks off on Feb. 2 with a test session, followed by two nights under the All Star Circuit Champions banner (Feb. 3-4) before the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series takes center stage Friday through Sunday (Feb. 5-7).

The 2010 World of Outlaws season kicks off with the 39th Annual Florida DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH at Volusia Speedway Park February 5-7. For tickets visit: http://www.DIRTcarNationals.com or call 386-985-4402. Each ticket purchased is also a free fan pit pass.

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Thursday, January 28 2010
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