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Salinas’ Journey Takes Him To Pole In Concord

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, April 28 2019
Top Fuel driver Mike Salinas is making his move at the Four Wides.

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

CONCORD, N.C. – For several years team owner Mike Salinas was a NHRA journeyman, competing in different classes with qualifying for an event his sole objective. That, however, is no longer the case.

Saturday Salinas claimed the No. 1 Top Fuel qualifying position for the NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway. The third of his career and second this season, he secured it with an elapsed time track record of 3.687 seconds that he recorded Friday night. The old record of 3.689 seconds was set last year by Brittany Force. Salinas’ accomplishment comes on the heels of his first-ever Top Fuel victory earlier this month at Las Vegas.

“It’s so amazing to jump into a car and know that you can win,” said Salinas, whose No. 1 qualifying position came on his 58th birthday. “That’s the part I never had before.

“This is my learning year. Can you imagine next year? That’s what I’m excited about. If this is what a learning year is going to be, next year is going to be a lot of fun.”

Salinas’ crew chief Brian Husen and tuning advisor Alan Johnson were with Force in 2017 when she won her Top Fuel championship.

“We are working together to learn how to race together,” Salinas said. “I’m  a different individual. I’m older than most of the guys that he’s (Johnson) raced with. I’m learning every time. The nice part is I’m a fast learner.”  

On the other end of the racing spectrum, two-time Funny Car champion Robert Hight secured his 64th career No. 1 qualifying position and fourth this season in Saturday’s final qualifying round. He bumped Jack Beckman from the top spot with a 3.883-second E.T.

“I don’t think ever in my career I have ever had a car this dominant,” said Hight, who has won three of the first five events this season. “That 0.88 was out there last night under stellar conditions. For us to go out and do it (today) when the track was 115 degrees, that’s pretty impressive. This is the most consistent machine I’ve ever had.”

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Karen Stoffer claimed the No. 1 qualifying position with her 6.793-second E.T. in the first of Saturday’s two qualifying rounds. It was the first time a Suzuki had secured the top spot in a year. LE Tonglet accomplished the feat last April at zMAX Dragway.

Eliminations begin at noon Sunday with the finals being televised on FS1 starting at 6 p.m., ET.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, April 28 2019
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