Sprint car veteran and 99-time World of Outlaw Craftsman Sprint Car Series winner Joey Saldana has found a new home for the 2017 racing season. Saldana will drive the Elk Grove Ford/Roth Investments No. 17 for the newly-formed Stenhouse Jr.-Wood Racing team.
Owned by NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Matt Wood, Stenhouse Jr.-Wood Racing will compete full time on the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series tour in 2017. Saldana, who finished fifth in the World of Outlaws point standings in 2016, will be looking to improve that finish and earn his milestone 100th series victory.
“I’m amazed, blessed and honored. I honestly thought my career could be over. I didn’t think an opportunity like this was going to come my way,” Saldana said. “I’m grateful for Dennis Roth coming on board and being the final piece in the puzzle to make this team all come together. Ricky (Stenhouse Jr.) and Matt (Wood) have put a great team together and I couldn’t be more anxious to get to Florida in February.”
Tyler Swank, who led the Keneric Team to a Kings Royal victory in 2014, has been named crew chief of the No. 17 team. Swank, 39, and crew members will Adam Clark and Chris Bowe will field the team out of Saldana’s Brownsburg, Ind., race shop.
“We’re all excited to have an experienced World of Outlaws crew chief in Tyler Swank on board,” said co-owner Matt Wood. “This team came about through a lot of hard work by Joey (Saldana) and the support of our co-owner Ricky Stenhous Jr. and our partners at Elk Grove Ford, Roth Investments, and Priority Aviation. Joey and Tyler both bring a lot of knowledge and success with them and we’re looking forward to many trips to victory lane with them next year.”
Wood’s No. 17W team started the 2016 with late driver Bryan Clauson. Clauson’s life tragically ended while leading the Belleville Midget Nationals in Belleville, Kansas in August.
“A year ago Matt (Wood), Richard (Marshall of Priority Aviation) and I began forming a World of Outlaws team centered around Bryan Clauson driving. After Bryan’s tragic crash we all kind of just laid low,” said co-owner Stenhouse Jr. “A few weeks ago an opportunity came up to have a partnership with Matt, Dennis Roth, Richard and myself. With Joey driving the car, it was something I felt I couldn’t pass up. With leadership from Tyler (Swank) and Joey’s experience, everyone on this team is ready to compete. I have a lot of passion for sprint car racing and I miss driving, but I feel being an owner of this type of a World of Outlaws team will make me feel more a part of the sport.”
Saldana, 44, a long-time fan of Clauson’s, feels honor in driving the car once intended for the late driver.
“I know Bryan’s dream was to run the full World of Outlaws tour,” Saldana said. “My dream was watching Bryan race midgets, sprint cars, Silver Crown cars and the Indy 500. I thought he had the best job in the world. For me to drive this car is a huge honor. I hope I don’t let him down. I want to make all the right decisions and have a successful season for him and everyone involved in this team.”
Stenhouse Jr. – Wood Racing will begin its 2017 season in February at the DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park located in Barberville, Fla. For the team’s full 2017 schedule and more information about the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series, please visit www.woosprint.com.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!