Top Fuel driver Mike Salinass captured his first career win in just his second ever final-round appearance Sunday at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Las Vegas, NV.
Salinas earned his first NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Wally with a terrific reaction time in just his fourth race paired up full-time with legendary crew chief Alan Johnson.
The San Jose, CA-based businessman defeated Brittany Force, Clay Millican, and Doug Kalitta to the stripe to secure his win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
He was joined in the winner’s circle by KB Racing and Team Summit driver Bo Butner, who continues to dominate Pro Stock. He has now won three of the first four races of 2019.
In Funny Car, defending class champion J.R. Todd earned his first win of the year, beating Schumacher Racing teammates Tommy Johnson Jr. and Jack Beckman, as well as #1 qualifier Tim Wilkerson, all of whom were looking for their first win of the season.
Hector Arana Jr. won for the first time this season in just the second Pro Stock Motorcycle race of 2019.
Salinas Wins Top Fuel
“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,” he said. “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.”
Defending Champ Todd Wins Funny Car
“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]. 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,” Todd said. “That .97 in the final was pretty stout.”
“This is the fifth anniversary of me getting the call from [team owner Connie Kalitta],” he said. “I was at home eating chicken wings and drinking beer and watching March Madness with my parents when he called 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.”
Butner Downplays Pro Stock Domination
“Listen, I’m just on the best team in the class,” Butner said.
“We had three KB Racing cars in the final and we could have had four in there. That’s really all there is to it,” he said. “I’m lucky to be a part of this team and it’s just great to be out here doing this.”
On his reversal of fortunes in Las Vegas: “You know, this is the toughest class I’ve ever raced in, and I’ve raced in a lot of classes,” he said. “So, if I said I was missing Tanner Gray right now, I’d be lying to you. Nah, I’m kidding. I text him from time to time and I have a bunch of his crew guys on my team, so I’m not surprised that he did so well when he was here. It’s just a matter of having good people and learning how to win.”
Arana Jr. Wins Pro Stock Motorcycle
“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 gains, 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.”
The 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continues with NHRA SpringNationals at Houston Raceway Park in Baytown, TX, April 12-14.
NHRA Pro Stock Point Standings
1. Bo Butner 301
2. Alex Laughlin 229
3. Jason Line 189
4. Erica Enders 186
5. Matt Hartford 185
NHRA Funny Car Point Standings
1. Robert Hight 330
2. Jack Beckman 225
3. Matt Hagan 215
4. John Force 200
5. Tommy Johnson Jr. 191
NHRA Top Fuel Point Standings
1. Doug Kalitta 246
2. Leah Pritchett 204
3. Steve Torrence 197
4. Billy Torrence 178
4. Richie Crampton 178
NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle Point Standings
1. Andrew Hines 124
2. Eddie Krawiec 106
3. Hector Arana Jr. 76
4. Joey Gladstone 72
5. Matt Smith 63
Drag Race Central and NHRA contributed to this report.