Mike Salinas picked up his first career NHRA win Sunday at the 20th annual DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at the Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, becoming the 107th winner in Top Fuel history.
J.R. Todd (Funny Car), Bo Butner (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also victors in their respective professional Mello Yello Drag Racing Series categories.
Salinas started the race day from the No. 1 qualifier position. He powered his Scrappers Racing dragster to a victorious 3.801s, 330.39 mph pass, outrunning Brittany Force, Clay Millican and Doug Kalitta. Force finished as the Top Fuel runner-up.
“It means a lot,” Salinas said. “I have this program that I put in my head and I believed it would work. Alan Johnson (tuner) has been five years in the making. Didn’t say much, just let everything fall where it’s going to fall. We build something and now we can go racing.
“The important thing, for me, is that I have four daughters coming into the sport. I set the bar for my family all the time and now we have a good bar for them to reach and meet, from the (Pro Stock) motorcycle to the A-Fuel to our Pro Mod coming — to everything we’re going to do. It’s going to be a great thing.”
Reigning Funny Car world champion Todd drove his DHL Toyota Camry to the Funny Car title on Sunday with his 3.970 pass at 319.07. Todd now has won three consecutive events at the Las Vegas track.
He faced a final four of Tommy Johnson Jr., Jack Beckman and No. 1 qualifier Tim Wilkerson, with Johnson Jr. coming in second.
“It’s all Kalitta Motorsports. It seems like ever since I’ve come on board with this team, we’ve always run well here. This whole team — all four cars — have a really good handle on this place, especially Todd Smith and Jon (Oberhofer, crew chiefs). It seems like the more we come here the better grip they get on this place.”
In Pro Stock, Butner picked up his third win of the 2019 season in his Jim Butner’s Auto Chevy Camaro with his 6.677 pass at 206.67. The 2017 world champ got the final win light of the day with his triple holeshot victory over the quartet of Matt Hartford, Jason Line and Greg Anderson. Hartford was second to the stripe and finished as the runner-up.
Butner’s Sunday win is his first four-wide win and his second win at the Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“I learned that you can’t be a lazy winner,” Butner stated. “The win light is off now and it’s time for the next race. We’ve got to work hard but I’m with the best team. I’m in the final with Greg and Jason — we’re like three brothers. It’s just great to get that with Ken (Black, team owner). It worked out to be a good day — just very blessed and can’t complain.”
Arana Jr. picked up the win on his Lucas Oil EBR in the middle of champions, including reigning titlist Matt Smith, five-time champion Andrew Hines and four-time champ Eddie Krawiec. M. Smith came in second as Hines broke on the starting line and Krawiec fouled out with his red light start.
Arana Jr. cruised to a 6.907 at 195.97 to pick up his second win at the Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway facility.
“That Lucas Oil motorcycle, she’s bad to the bone,” Arana Jr. said. “That’s just a testament to my team and the consistency. We weren’t the fastest but we were consistent all weekend. I worked on my lights and they got better and better, and I stepped it up when I needed to step it up in the final because the final was stacked. I love going up against those guys. It makes me put out my best. It’s just something about racing those guys that you just dig deep and really go for it.”
The NHRA circuit will travel to Houston to the Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals Presented By Pennzoil April 12-14 for the fifth race of the 2019 season.