Saldana’s title bid turns after scary crash

Joey Saldana's title hopes have taken a turn after a heavy crash at Eldora

Joey Saldana's title hopes have taken a turn after a heavy crash at Eldora

Kasey Kahne Racing’s Joey Saldana endured a scary crash at Eldora Speedway during Friday night’s main event which has put a significant dent in his hopes of winning his maiden World of Outlaws Series Championship.

Saldana and Jason Meyers have been in a back-and-forth battle for their first World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series championship all season, with 20-time champion Steve Kinser looking to pounce from only a few points back.

However, the heavy crash on the opening lap at Friday night’s main event at Eldora Speedway has had a major impact on that battle. Saldana, who had moved back atop the standings after qualifying, started on the outside of the front row when a caution came out before the field could complete a circuit at the high-banked track in Rossburg, Ohio, owned by Tony Stewart. Saldana made contact with pole-sitter Sammy Swindell and was sent hard into the fence, ending his night in last place.

Saldana was taken to a hospital for observation and released on the following morning before the series competed at Lernerville Speedway.

His lead in the standings turned into a 20-point deficit, which will grow since he won’t be competing on Saturday night in the Commonwealth Clash.

“He’s doing pretty good,” said crew chief Willie Kahne.

“From talking to (his wife) Shannon he is still pretty groggy. His jaw hurts and his back hurts and his memory is not quite right. He’s not fit to race tonight, that’s for sure, but he’ll make a full recovery in the next few days I’m sure.

Kasey Kahne Racing’s Brad Sweet will fill in at Lernerville for Saldana, who will receive 75 medical exemption points in the drivers’ standings while Sweet will attempt to close the gap to Meyers’ Elite Racing Team in the owners’ standings. Not only are Meyers and Saldana trying to capture their first World of Outlaws championships, but their teams are also looking for their first crowns.

“It’s a good benefit to our program that when we get into tough situations like this that we have drivers that can fill in and that are familiar with our program. Hopefully we won’t skip a beat,” said Kahne.

Evergreen racer Jac Haudenschild claimed the victory on Friday night at Edlora ahead of Sammy Swindell and Paul McMahon.

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