Salinas Picks Up Fourth Top Fuel Win

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, June 28 2022

Mike Salinas took Top Fuel top honors at Norwalk.

A self-described workaholic, Mike Salinas wheels his 330-mph Top Fuel dragster as a high-speed hobby. As of Sunday evening in Norwalk, Ohio, NHRA world champions Brittany Force and Steve Torrence wish Salinas had taken up pickleball.

Salinas stormed into the Top Fuel point lead with a victory in Sunday’s 15th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, the California businessman’s fourth win of the 2022 Camping World Drag Racing Series season.

Salinas posted a 1,000-foot final-round pass of 3.706-seconds at 333.58 mph in his dragster to defeat fellow team-owner/driver Josh Hart, setting the track speed record in the process. Salinas’ first victory at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park moved him past Force for the point lead via his seventh career victory.

Salinas reached the final round in the season’s 10th national event by knocking off eight-time world champ Tony Schumacher, Doug Kalitta and Leah Pruett, posting a stellar reaction time in the final against Hart to win for the third time in five races.

“It’s amazing,” said Salinas, a 61-year-old native and resident of San Jose, Calif. “(Crew chief) Rob Flynn brought a calmness to this team, and everyone has a voice. I think that is unprecedented and that’s been pretty awesome.”

In the real world, Salinas is used to working 18 to 20 hours, seven days a week. He and his wife, Monica, own Valley Services, a state-certified recycling facility in the Silicon Valley specializing in construction, demolition and residential waste materials.

Salinas was introduced to racing by his father, a hot-rodder who competed during the 1960s and 1970s at Fremont Drag Strip and Little Bonneville. Mike made his Top Fuel debut in 2011, won his first national event at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2019, sat-out the 2020 COVID-impacted season and finished third overall upon returning to the series fulltime in 2021.

“We’ve earned the right to be out here and race against these guys, and we belong here,” Salinas said. “It’s a good thing because we’ve got a great team and I’m learning how to drive. It’s been really cool for this entire team and a lot of fun, and I just really appreciate being here and being in this position.”

Robert Hight (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also emerged as professional class winners Sunday.

Hart reached his first final of 2022 and third in his career by ousting Spencer Massey, Austin Prock and Force, the 2016 world champ from John Force Racing who now trails Salinas by 12 points. It was a breakout weekend for Hart and his team, which jumped into sixth place in the point standings after qualifying fourth.

“I would say we have definitely turned a corner,” said Hart, who also has a pair of semifinal finishes this season. “I’m just going back to what I did last year and just trying to have fun. I believe all good leadership comes from the top. The owner of R+L Carriers told me I was forgetting an important thing _ I was forgetting to have fun. That’s what we did this weekend.”

Hart made his quickest pass of race day against Force to reach his third career final. The 3.750-second pass gave the driver from Ocala, Fla., lane choice over Salinas.

“I don’t care who is in the other lane,” Hart said. “It’s easy to get wrapped-up on the big names with unlimited budgets. We are not quite there yet. I just have to run my own race and do my thing in my lane.”

Shortly after the semifinal runs a short rainstorm blew through Norwalk, delaying racing and Hart’s momentum for approximately three hours. The NHRA Safety Safari did a masterful job of prepping the track for the finals, with Hart versus Salinas closing-out the professional program. Salinas was first off the starting line went on to better Hart’s 3.786-second effort.


Salinas wasn’t the only nitro driver to assume the point lead, as Robert Hight did the same in Funny Car. Hight rolled to his fourth win of the season as well with a 1,000-foot pass in 3.944-seconds at 327.51 mph to trailer Bob Tasca III. Hight scored his 57th career win and first at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park via a series of stellar runs during eliminations, including a 3.890-second pass at 328.06 mph in the semifinals against J.R. Todd. Hight also took care of business against Jim Campbell and Alexis DeJoria to reach the final.

“This is big for us,” said Hight, driver of the Chevrolet Camaro SS fielded by John Force Racing. “I had never won here, so being able to cross this one off and get the points lead _ it’s big. The conditions kind of came to us. When it gets a little cooler, you’re not going to beat (crew chief) Jimmy Prock. I’m so proud of this team, they’ve worked so hard. It shows we’re legit and we’re here to win. I’ve had so much fun this weekend and we’ve had a great time, and I’m not ready for it to end.”

Tasca reached the final round in Norwalk for the third consecutive time in his Ford Mustang, picking up round-wins against Mike McIntire Jr., Matt Hagan and No. 1 qualifier and two-time/reigning world champ Ron Capps. Hight now leads fellow-three-time world champion Hagan by 21 points as the campaign nears the halfway mark.


Erica Enders’ domination in Pro Stock continued Sunday, as she won in Norwalk for the second straight season. Enders defeated Aaron Stanfield in the final by covering the quarter-mile in 6.627-seconds at 207.88 mph in her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro SS.

In the third straight final round between the two teammates, Enders earned her fourth win in five races, avenging last Sunday’s wild final against Stanfield at Bristol. Enders was a step ahead of everyone at Norwalk, qualifying No. 1 by a large margin before making strong runs during eliminations and defeating Fernando Cuadra Jr., Matt Hartford and Deric Kramer to reach the championship round. Erica was near-perfect in the final, posting an 0.018-second reaction time.

A four-time world champion, Enders now has five wins in eight Pro Stock events in 2022 with Sunday’s victory her 38th overall.

After we exploded last weekend in Bristol, the guys rallied and put in a new bullet (engine) for this race,” Enders said. “It performed pretty flawlessly. It mowed down the scoreboard on Friday and we threw out some really great numbers on race day. I’m really proud of my guys. To have a group believe in me like they do, it makes my job a whole heck of a lot easier. I have a group that believes in me and lifts me up, and I attribute all my success to that.”

Stanfield’s third straight final kept him second in points. Stanfield advanced to the final by taking down Troy Coughlin Jr., Mason McGaha and Kyle Koretsky. Enders’ point lead is now 105 over Stanfield.


A week after going red in the final at Thunder Valley, Angelle Sampey more than made up for it in Norwalk in Pro Stock Motorcycle by trailering Joey Gladstone with a quarter-mile pass in 6.861-seconds at 197.13 mph.

Sampey scored her first victory of the season, and 46th of her career, aboard her Vance & Hines/Mission Foods Suzuki. A three-time world champ, Angelle reached the final with round-wins against Ron Tornow, five-time/reigning world champ Matt Smith and 2016 world champ Jerry Savoie _ who defeated Sampey last Sunday at Bristol Dragway. This matchup, however, belonged to Sampey, who led wire-to-wire against Gladstone for her first victory at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park.

“You don’t know the internal battle that I was going through since last week,” Sampey said. “This was huge after the final in Bristol. I threw it away. I gave it to Jerry. It slipped through my fingers and on Monday I prepared for this race. By Friday, I dug deep within myself. Twenty years ago, I wouldn’t have had to do what I did mentally, but I’ve found that the biggest competitor these days is myself.”

Looking for his first career win, Gladstone put together a strong weekend by defeating Jimmy Underdahl, Karen Stoffer and Hector Arana Jr. in his first final this season and third of his career. Veteran Steve Johnson maintained his point lead aboard his Suzuki. However, Johnson’s lead slipped to 52 points over Sampey.

The Camping World Drag Racing Series returns to action July 15-17 with the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colo., near Denver. The event is the start of NHRA’s famed three-race, summertime Western Swing.


Final finishing order (1-16) at the 15th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio. The race was the 10th of 22 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel _ 1. Mike Salinas; 2. Josh Hart; 3. Brittany Force; 4. Leah Pruett; 5. Doug Kalitta; 6. Steve Torrence; 7. Austin Prock; 8. Tripp Tatum; 9. Antron Brown; 10. Shawn Langdon; 11. Tony Schumacher; 12. Billy Torrence; 13. Justin Ashley; 14. Kyle Wurtzel; 15. Spencer Massey; 16. Clay Millican.

Funny Car _ 1. Robert Hight; 2. Bob Tasca III; 3. J.R. Todd; 4. Ron Capps; 5. Cruz Pedregon; 6. John Force; 7. Alexis DeJoria; 8. Matt Hagan; 9. Chad Green; 10. Jim Campbell; 11. Mike McIntire; 12. Bobby Bode; 13. Blake Alexander; 14. Paul Lee; 15. Tim Wilkerson; 16. Dale Creasy Jr.

Pro Stock _ 1. Erica Enders; 2. Aaron Stanfield; 3. Deric Kramer; 4. Kyle Koretsky; 5. Greg Anderson; 6. Matt Hartford; 7. Camrie Caruso; 8. Mason McGaha; 9. Chris McGaha; 10. Kenny Delco; 11. Troy Coughlin Jr.; 12. Bo Butner; 13. Fernando Cuadra Jr.; 14. Fernando Cuadra; 15. Dallas Glenn; 16. Cristian Cuadra.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Angelle Sampey; 2. Joey Gladstone; 3. Jerry Savoie; 4. Hector Arana Jr; 5. Karen Stoffer; 6. Angie Smith; 7. Eddie Krawiec; 8. Matt Smith; 9. Chip Ellis; 10. LE Tonglet; 11. Jim Underdahl; 12. Steve Johnson; 13. Ryan Oehler; 14. Ron Tornow; 15. Jianna Evaristo; 16. Marc Ingwersen.

Final Pro and Sportsman results from the 15th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals:

Top Fuel _ Mike Salinas, 3.706-seconds, 333.58 mph def. Josh Hart, 3.783-seconds, 325.37 mph.

Funny Car _ Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.944, 327.51 def. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 3.962, 330.63.

Pro Stock _ Erica Enders, Chevy Camaro, 6.627, 207.88 def. Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.658, 207.15.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ Angelle Sampey, Suzuki, 6.861, 197.13 def. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.928, 194.60.

Top Alcohol Dragster _ Matthew Cummings, 5.313, 275.84 def. Alan Bradshaw, 5.388, 268.06.

Top Alcohol Funny Car _ Doug Gordon, Chevy Camaro, 5.592, 262.95 def. DJ Cox Jr., Camaro, 5.625, 262.33.

Competition Eliminator _ Scott Chamness, Dragster, 7.082, 149.35 def. Frank Aragona, Alterd, Broke.

Super Stock _Tyler Bohannon, Chevy Camaro, 9.619, 137.33 def. Joe Santangelo, Camaro, 9.658, 136.65.

Stock Eliminator _ Joe Santangelo, Chevy Camaro, 10.432, 121.69 def. Brett McFarland, Camaro, 10.202, 126.58.

Super Comp _ Patrick Debottis, Dragster, 8.922, 182.30 def. Bob Prose, Dragster, 8.927, 180.94.

Super Gas _ Duane LaFleur, Chevy Camaro, 9.910, 163.04 def. Dave Coapstick, Olds Cutlass, 9.907, 161.44.

Top Sportsman presented by Vortech Superchargers _ Steve Jaeger, Chevy Monte Carlo, 6.747, 205.10 def. Glenn Butcher, Chevy Camaro, 6.411, 177.86.

Top Dragster presented by Vortech Superchargers _ Al Kenny, Dragster, No Time Recorded def. Karma Hopper, Dragster, Broke/ No Show.

Pro Modified _ Kris Thorne, Chevy Camaro, 5.796, 247.93 def. Rickie Smith, Ford Mustang, 5.828, 250.04.

Factory Stock Showdown _ Bill Skillman, Ford Mustang, 7.810, 177.07 def. David Barton, Chevy Camaro, 7.869, 180.09.

Final round-by-round results from the 15th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals:


ROUND ONE _ Josh Hart, 3.756, 323.50 def. Spencer Massey, Foul/Red Light; Austin Prock, 3.836, 256.65 def. Clay Millican, Broke; Brittany Force, 3.774, 310.20 def. Kyle Wurtzel, 8.548, 87.22; Leah Pruett, 3.776, 327.98 def. Justin Ashley, 3.852, 317.49; Mike Salinas, 3.758, 328.06 def. Tony Schumacher, 3.794, 294.82; Doug Kalitta, 3.736, 330.23 def. Antron Brown, 3.772, 324.36; Steve Torrence, 3.746, 327.66 def. Billy Torrence, 3.813, 327.03; Tripp Tatum, 3.732, 325.92 def. Shawn Langdon, 3.793, 322.65;

QUARTERFINALS _ Hart, 3.813, 323.66 def. Prock, 3.808, 321.81; Force, 3.765, 329.75 def. Tatum, 3.810, 318.47; Pruett, 3.798, 325.61 def. S. Torrence, 3.802, 327.51; Salinas, 3.771, 329.26 def. Kalitta, 3.776, 324.05;

SEMIFINALS _ Salinas, 3.822, 296.89 def. Pruett, 6.062, 135.36; Hart, 3.750, 328.94 def. Force, 3.783, 329.02;

FINAL _ Salinas, 3.706, 333.58 def. Hart, 3.783, 325.37.


ROUND ONE _ Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.948, 322.65 def. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 8.509, 104.92; Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.921, 326.00 def. Mike McIntire, Toyota Camry, Foul/Red Light; John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.878, 333.41 def. Bobby Bode, Mustang, 4.121, 244.96; Ron Capps, Toyota Supra, 5.519, 160.16 def. Dale Creasy Jr., Charger, Foul/Centerline; Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.903, 326.24 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.093, 311.85; Alexis DeJoria, Supra, 3.952, 325.85 def. Paul Lee, Charger, 6.865, 94.39; J.R. Todd, Supra, 3.903, 330.80 def. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 6.032, 117.24; Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 3.972, 316.75 def. Chad Green, Mustang, 4.056, 302.55;

QUARTERFINALS _ Capps, 3.974, 327.59 def. Pedregon, 3.982, 323.50; Todd, 3.953, 329.34 def. Force, 4.154, 271.52; Hight, 3.997, 311.92 def. DeJoria, 4.651, 175.71; Tasca III, 3.941, 327.27 def. Hagan, 4.876, 173.45;

SEMIFINALS _ Hight, 3.890, 328.06 def. Todd, 3.916, 329.75; Tasca III, 3.933, 329.18 def. Capps, 3.973, 327.11;

FINAL _ Hight, 3.944, 327.51 def. Tasca III, 3.962, 330.63.


ROUND ONE _ Matt Hartford, Chevy Camaro, 6.646, 206.89 def. Cristian Cuadra, Ford Mustang, Foul/Red Light; Camrie Caruso, Camaro, 6.641, 206.54 def. Fernando Cuadra, Mustang, Foul/Red Light; Mason McGaha, Camaro, 6.653, 206.51 def. Dallas Glenn, Camaro, 16.985, 47.28; Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.669, 206.95 def. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.672, 207.24; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.620, 204.63 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.665, 206.13; Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.642, 206.29 def. Troy Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.682, 206.26; Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.656, 205.79 def. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.684, 206.01; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.597, 209.01 def. Fernando Cuadra Jr., Mustang, Foul/Red Light;

QUARTERFINALS _ Stanfield, 6.684, 206.89 def. M. McGaha, 6.873, 204.01; Koretsky, 6.677, 205.54 def. Caruso, 6.676, 205.54; Kramer, 6.658, 207.11 def. Anderson, 6.616, 204.29; Enders, 6.635, 208.52 def. Hartford, 6.643, 206.95;

SEMIFINALS _ Stanfield, 16.957, 49.06 def. Koretsky, Foul/Red Light; Enders, 6.611, 208.59 def. Kramer, 6.659, 207.18;

FINAL _ Enders, 6.627, 207.88 def. Stanfield, 6.658, 207.15.


ROUND ONE _ Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.916, 197.71 def. Marc Ingwersen, EBR, Broke; Angie Smith, EBR, 6.851, 199.29 def. Ryan Oehler, EBR, 7.078, 192.49; Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.959, 192.69 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 7.014, 195.48; Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.873, 196.33 def. Chip Ellis, EBR, 6.908, 194.63; Angelle Sampey, Suzuki, 6.956, 168.51 def. Ron Tornow, Victory, Foul/Red Light; Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.890, 195.62 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.988, 196.13; Eddie Krawiec, Suzuki, 6.864, 197.74 def. Jianna Evaristo, Suzuki, 9.227, 98.93; Matt Smith, Suzuki, 6.879, 197.86 def. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.938, 194.91;

QUARTERFINALS _ Savoie, 6.991, 193.49 def. A. Smith, Foul/Red Light; Sampey, 6.890, 195.90 def. M. Smith, 6.947, 195.53; Gladstone, 6.907, 195.28 def. Stoffer, 6.855, 195.73; Arana Jr., 6.915, 197.13 def. Krawiec, 6.942, 176.60;

SEMIFINALS _ Gladstone, 6.935, 193.82 def. Arana Jr., Foul/Red Light; Sampey, 6.855, 198.35 def. Savoie, 6.995, 183.29;

FINAL _ Sampey, 6.861, 197.13 def. Gladstone, 6.928, 194.60.

Point standings (top-10) following the 15th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals:

Top Fuel _1. Mike Salinas, 821; 2. Brittany Force, 809; 3. Steve Torrence, 712; 4. Justin Ashley, 711; 5. Austin Prock, 513; 6. Josh Hart, 509; 7. Shawn Langdon, 467; 8. Clay Millican, 462; 9. Doug Kalitta, 459; 10. Leah Pruett, 417.

Funny Car _1. Robert Hight, 929; 2. Matt Hagan, 908; 3. Ron Capps, 829; 4. John Force, 655; 5. Cruz Pedregon, 561; 6. Bob Tasca III, 517; 7. J.R. Todd, 509; 8. Alexis DeJoria, 490; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 443; 10. Chad Green, 408.

Pro Stock _1. Erica Enders, 814; 2. Aaron Stanfield, 709; 3. Kyle Koretsky, 562; 4. Dallas Glenn, 476; 5. Greg Anderson, 459; 6. Mason McGaha, 435; 7. Camrie Caruso, 422; 8. Deric Kramer, 376; 9. Matt Hartford, 340; 10. Bo Butner, 337.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _1. Steve Johnson, 488; 2. Angelle Sampey, 436; 3. Karen Stoffer, 433; 4. Joey Gladstone, 385; 5. Angie Smith, 383; 6. Matt Smith, 379; 7. Eddie Krawiec, 377; 8. Jerry Savoie, 343; 9. Marc Ingwersen, 293; 10. Jim Underdahl, 259.

Pro Modified _ 1. Kris Thorne, 418; 2. Rickie Smith, 310; 3. Steve Jackson, 213; 4. Lyle Barnett, 206; 5. Stan Shelton, 201; 6. Jose Gonzalez, 192; 7. Justin Bond, 182; 8. Mike Thielen, 179; 9. Tylor Miller, 178; 10. JR Gray, 171.

Editor’s Note: John Sturbin is a Texas-based journalist specializing in motorsports. During a near 30-year career with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, he won the Bloys Britt Award for top motorsports story of the year (1991) as judged by The Associated Press; received the National Hot Rod Association’s Media Award (1995) and several in-house Star-Telegram honors. He also was inaugural recipient of the Texas Motor Speedway Excellence in Journalism Award (2009). His list of freelance clients includes Texas Motor Speedway, the Dallas Morning News, New York Newsday, Rome (N.Y) Daily Sentinel, Corpus Christi (Texas) Caller Times, NASCAR Wire Service and Ford Racing).



| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, June 28 2022
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