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Jasmine Salinas Can’t Wait To See What Happens Next After NHRA Top Fuel Debut

Mark Rebilas photo

After experiencing improvements in each of her completed Top Fuel passes, Jasmine Salinas is feeling confident about her debut in the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series. Stepping in for her father and Scrappers Racing team owner Mike Salinas, she powered her way onto the Top Fuel scene this weekend at the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals at In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip in Pomona, Calif. 

Aboard her Scrappers Racing/Petersen Automotive Museum Top Fuel dragster, Jasmine made two impressive qualifying passes. Her comfort behind the wheel was immediately evident as she made her best run of the weekend during the final qualifying session where she lined up next to eight-time Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher. Her pass of 4.033 seconds at 287.78 MPH landed her in the No. 11 spot on the ladder.

“I’d been hoping to stage up next to someone before I was in competition at a national event, but instead I got to stage next to the winningest Top Fuel driver in history,” she said with a laugh. “I think that would make anyone nervous. But we had a really good talk after our run. He was very encouraging.”

Jasmine’s qualifying position placed her against the current Top Fuel world champion, Doug Kalitta, in the first round of eliminations on Sunday. Unfortunately, her burnout was cut short when a throttle cable broke, rendering her unable to stage against Kalitta. While it was an earlier exit than she wanted, it did little to tamper her positive perspective as she’s eager to embrace the challenges that come with Top Fuel racing. 

“I feel very accomplished after this weekend,” Jasmine said. “This wasn’t how I expected to begin racing in Top Fuel but I’m proud of my dad for putting his health first. This team is amazing. They’ve had a lot thrown at them in the past week including adapting to a new driver and no one was really sure how I would be showing up mentally, including me, with all of this taking place. But I truly believe they are the best crew out here and I don’t think I could have gotten into this car without them. They gave me the confidence I needed after being out of the driver’s seat for eight months.”

With her sisters, including Pro Stock Motorcycle standout Jianna Evaristo, by her side on the starting line and a burgeoning fan base cheering her on in the stands, Jasmine is humbled by the outpouring of support, including that of her sponsors, Petersen Automotive Museum, Adams Pools, Red Line Oil, Pleasanton Ready Mix and Valley Services. 

“After experiencing the amount of support I’ve had this weekend, if this is how we’re starting out the season, I can’t wait to see what happens next!”

Due to inclement weather, the final round of Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals competition will take place at the NHRA Arizona Nationals on April 5-7 at Firebird Motorsports Park in Chandler, Ariz., just outside of Phoenix.

This story was originally published on March 25, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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