Saldana reflects on driving the JJR 41 at Lakeside Speedway

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October 16, 2018  |  by Tony Veneziano

Joey Saldana has a number of similar character traits to the late Jason Johnson. First and foremost, Saldana is a family man, just as Johnson was. The native of Brownsburg, Ind., also has a deep competitive fire and passion for the sport of sprint car racing. Both of those were mantras of Johnson’s as well. Saldana is also very humble, just as Johnson was throughout his career.

With an open seat for four races late this season, Jason Johnson Racing (JJR) will turn to Saldana to pilot the No. 41. Saldana will make the first start of a four-race stint for JJR at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., on Friday, October 19 in the FVP Platinum Battery Shootout with the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series.

“To be able to jump into this high caliper of a ride and be able to contend for World of Outlaws wins is pretty humbling,” said Saldana. “I didn’t have a ride for any of these races, so it’s a great opportunity. Thanks to Bobbi (Johnson) and Philip (Dietz-Crew Chief) for letting me run it this weekend and at the World Finals in Charlotte.”

The JJR team has raced a handful of times over the last couple of months with Carson Macedo behind the wheel. The pairing was victorious on a preliminary night during the Knoxville 360 Nationals at the famed Knoxville Raceway in Iowa. With Macedo having prior commitments on the West Coast this weekend, it opened the seat up for Lakeside, which is about two-and-half hours from the JJR shop in Rocky Mount, Mo.

“It’s pretty neat to be able to say I drove a car of that caliber and have a shot at winning a World of Outlaws race,” shared Saldana. “Jason Johnson built a great team over there and it shows. Hopefully we can go out, put a good showing in and make them proud.”

Saldana has the utmost respect for the team that Jason Johnson put together. Having been an owner/driver earlier in his career, Saldana knows firsthand the hard work, sacrifice, determination and perseverance that are needed to run your own team at high-level it takes to compete with the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series.

“The cool part about Jason's team is that he realized to make it in this sport, he was going to have to do it on his own,” explained Saldana. “He did that with all of his hard work and dedication as well as his family’s support. Obviously, he had some great support within his family. He built a team from the ground up. He went through the ranks of ASCS (American Sprint Car Series), winning multiple championships and then going to the World of Outlaws. That’s not easy to do.

“I had my own team for three years and financially, it’s a huge burden. There is a lot of risk involved and it’s hard. As a driver, you need something positive. In that situation, you know that you are not going to get fired and things are going in the right direction. Having your own team and your own sponsors, gives you that kind of security. Jason did that and came out here and had a very good showing. I think it’s pretty neat to see what he has done with his family and his race team. That’s why it’s an honor for anyone to jump in that car and try to duplicate the success he had in that car.”

Saldana has made 10 starts in his career with the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series at Lakeside Speedway and has six top-10 finishes in those races. He most recently competed at the track in 2016, leading eight laps, before fading to fourth, as he nursed a souring engine. Saldana was fourth-fastest in time trials that night and finished second in the first heat race to earn a spot in the dash. The veteran driver finished a career-best second at Lakeside in 2015.

“The last time I was at Lakeside, we qualified well and had a really good night in the Roth (Motorsports) 83 car,” said Saldana. “We started fourth or fifth and got to the lead and had a really good shot at winning that race and blew a motor toward the end. We ended up finishing fourth, but we definitely had a shot at winning. I’ve gone to Lakeside quite a few times and been fast and had the speed to win, but never capitalized on it. I know the (No.) 41 car is capable of winning there, so hopefully I can do my part and put it in victory lane.”

Tickets for the FVP Platinum Battery Shootout, featuring the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas on Friday, October 19 can be purchased online at slspromotions.ticketforce.com or by calling SLS Promotions at 815-344-2023 and at the track on race day.