BAYTOWN, TX — Mike Salinas may have his first career NHRA Top Fuel victory thanks to his incredible performance last weekend in Las Vegas. But it’s not going to change his mindset or his desire to win even more races.
The Top Fuel standout has a quote that describes his approach to life, business and racing, and it’s one that will continue to drive his Scrappers Racing team as he heads to Houston Raceway Park for this weekend’s NHRA SpringNationals.
“The quote is, ‘Practice like you have never won and perform like you have never lost.’ That’s how we live,” Salinas said. “It keeps you hungry when you’re practicing and when I get to the track, I want to perform like I’ve never lost.”
That means being confident in his standout team and his ability, something that was reinforced with Salinas’ career-changing moment at the four-wide event in Vegas last weekend.
LAS VEGAS — The dream is now reality for Mike Salinas. The Top Fuel driver claimed his first career NHRA win on Sunday at the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, rolling to a win in a final foursome that also featured Brittany Force, points leader Doug Kalitta and Clay Millican.
But Salinas was first off the line and finished off his dream weekend with an impressive 3.801-second run at 330.39 mph in his Scrappers Racing dragster, earning his first trip to the winner’s circle in the process.
“This feels great. It’s my first win ever in motorsports, so it’s really cool and means a lot,” said Salinas, who jumped to second in Top Fuel points. “We’ve built something. The important thing for me is I’ve got four daughters in or coming into the sport. Now we have a good bar for them to reach and meet. It’s going to be a great thing. NHRA has been amazing with us and it’s pretty awesome. It’s pretty surreal to be honest with you.”
Salinas had been building to this moment since putting together an all-star team in the off-season. With Brian Husen as crew chief, Alan Johnson as tuning advisor and Arron Cave as assistant crew chief, Salinas was determined to win and it took just four races in the 2019 NHRA season to do it.
LAS VEGAS — It took plenty of work and taking the car completely apart, but Top Fuel driver Mike Salinas believes his team has found the root of a problem that has plagued the talented team the last two races.
Salinas and his Scrappers Racing group will find out if they’re correct at this weekend’s Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but Salinas is confident his season is about to get back on track.
“We’re 99.9 percent sure we got it taken care of and we’ll know right away,” Salinas said. “But the guys are as vigilant as I am. They left no stone unturned. This weekend, we expect the car to go out and run good numbers, and get back on track the way it should be. We’re there for one thing and one thing only, and that is to win.”
That’s what made the last two races so frustrating, especially after starting the 2019 NHRA season in Pomona with a semifinal showing, an event-best speed and a series of runs in the 3.60s. Salinas, who is currently seventh in Top Fuel points, qualified second at the most recent race in Gainesville, but the trouble that plagued the team in Phoenix appeared in eliminations in a first-round defeat.
After qualifying second in Top Fuel at this weekend’s 50th NHRA Gatornationals with a run of 3.694 at 326.32 mph in his Scrappers Racing dragster, things went awry in the first round of eliminations against rookie Jordan Vandergriff.
Salinas’ dragster suffered from an electrical problem right at the hit, running 3.986 at 275.28 to fall in the opening round at Gainesville Raceway. After gremlins have now plagued back-to-back race weekends, Salinas was adamant those issues will be solved heading to the next race in Las Vegas.
“The car is going straight to Indy and will be completely stripped and be ready for the next race,” Salinas said. “We have to find out what the problem is. It’s really frustrating. I believe we’re better than this and I won’t settle for not succeeding.”
GAINESVILLE, FL – If their NHRA national event debuts were going to come at one of the biggest races of the season, Jasmine and Jianna Salinas wanted to make sure they did it together. That will happen at this weekend’s 50th annual NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway, and both Salinas sisters can’t wait to take in what will surely be a memorable experience.
Jianna will make her Pro Stock Motorcycle debut, while Jasmine makes her first national event appearance in Top Alcohol Dragster, a week after running in the Baby Gators. But debuting together on the national stage was always part of their plan and now that it is here, the Scrappers Racing teammates and sisters are filled with excitement to tackle the weekend in tandem.
“Our family is very close and that’s something we pride ourselves on,” Jianna said. “It’s a big deal for both of us, but we’re going to be each other’s biggest fan and offer that emotional support. We never thought we would race together, but to see it happen, it’s really amazing. I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else.”
The only good news was that it happened during the second race of the year – the Magic Dry Organic Absorbent NHRA Nationals – and not during the Countdown to the Championship.
A variety of gremlins plagued Salinas’ Scrappers Racing dragster from start to finish in what turned into a totally unexpected weekend after a semifinal appearance at the 2019 NHRA opener in Pomona.
A host of problems prevented that type of performance in Phoenix, as Salinas fell to eventual winner Billy Torrence in the second round of eliminations on Sunday. Salinas ran 3.848 at 275.17 mph, slowing on the top end against Torrence’s winning 3.687 at 329.58.
So when he had a performance that didn’t live up to his high standards during the semifinal round of the NHRA Winternationals, Salinas did something about it. His friend Mono Jimenez, who owns Rods & Racing, Inc., went to work on a full practice tree and race simulator, putting together an extensive piece for Salinas.
It is far more comprehensive than any handheld practice tree, as it includes a life-size tree and racing simulator that mimics the set-up of Salinas’ Scrappers Racing dragster. It further emphasizes Salinas’ dedication to the sport and he’s intent on his reaction times being a major strength starting at this weekend’s Magic Dry Organic Absorbent NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Phoenix.
“He knew what I was going to do and he knew I would be upset with that .077 before I even called him,” Salinas said. “It has a brake handle, gas and you can sit in it. It’s pretty awesome. But I should have cut a better light.