By Anthony Caruso III
Scrappers Racing Top Fuel pilot Mike Salinas won his first career race in the category on Sunday. The San Jose, California native won the race in just his fourth race with his new team, as he won the Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Salinas hired the former crew that worked with Brittany Force. This included the full-time work of crew chief Alan Johnson and Brian Huson.
He defeated a quad that also featured Brittany Force, Doug Kalitta, and Clay Millican. Salinas went 3.801 at 330.39 mph for the win.
“It feels great; it’s my first win in any kind of motorsports,” Salinas said. “I had this program I put in my head that I believed would work and Alan Johnson made it happen. We built something and now we can go racing. I have four daughters in racing and I set the bar for my family all the time, and now I’ve set the bar for them to reach. NHRA has been amazing with us and helped me; it’s just been awesome, kind of surreal to be honest.
“To be honest, I expected to win Pomona. I’ve done everything I can to make this happen. I know that sounds arrogant but here’s the deal: I’ve done everything in power, given Alan everything he needs, not questioned anything – we don’t even talk until he needs to ask me something; that’s how we do it – he does his job and I do mine – let’s just go win. I’m a goal achiever. Now that this is out of the way – now that I’ve gotten this gorilla off my back – we can have some fun racing and win some more races.”
Reigning Funny Car champion J.R. Todd won his first race of the 2019 season. He defeated a quad featuring Tommy Johnson Jr., Jack Beckman, and Tim Wilkerson.
The Lawrenceburg, Indiana native went 3.970 at 319.07 mph for the win. While Todd was the second off of the starting line, he had the quickest pass of the section.
It was Todd’s first win since winning the Auto Club NHRA Finals on Nov. 11 in Pomona, California.
“Ever since I’ve come onboard at Kalitta Motorsports we’ve done well here; all four cars have a real good handle on this place, especially Todd Smith and Jon [Oberhofer],” Todd said. “We struggled early this year shaking the tires on cold tracks and I knew it wouldn’t be cold everywhere we went, and, sure enough, it was hot and nasty today which is a good equalizer for us. That .97 in the final was pretty stout.
“This is the fifth anniversary of me getting the call from [team owner Connie Kalitta]. I was at home eating chicken wings and drinking beer and watching March Madness with my parents when called me and asked me to get on a plane and come here and drive his car on Saturday and that’s where it all started. I can’t thank him enough.”
Bo Butner picked up his third win of the season after considering retirement in the off-season. The Floyds Knobs, Indiana native had the starting line advantage and was able to hold on for the hole shot win.
He has now won two races in a row. He also won the season-opener at the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com.
“Listen I’m just on the best team in the class,” Butner said. “We had three K.B. Racing cars in the final and we could have had four in there. That’s really all there is to it. I’m lucky to be apart of this team and it’s just great to be out here doing this.”
Instead of Pro Stock Motorcycle being a quad, it was just three bikes in the final. Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Pro Stock Motorycle rider Andrew Hines could not get his bike started.
Hector Arana Jr. defeated the two other bikes in the final round. He won with a 6.907 at 195.79 mph.
“That consistency does come in some part because of the extra runs because we’re always working on it,” Arana Jr. said. “It’s also just me getting more and more comfortable riding the bike. We’re constantly looking for gaines and we’re just picking away at it right now here and there. That consistency is just a huge part of our success right now.”