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Scrappers Racing Sharpens Skills In Hot Conditions At NHRA Route 66 Nationals

Mark Rebilas photos

The Scrappers Racing team is leaving Chicago armed with new information and invaluable experience after competing at the Gerber Collision & Glass NHRA Route 66 Nationals presented by PEAK Performance at Route 66 Raceway. Sisters Jasmine Salinas and Jianna Evaristo performed consistently in Top Fuel and Pro Stock Motorcycle, respectively, as they learned how to manage their powerful Scrappers Racing machines in hot and volatile conditions with packed fields across the board. While the sibling duo may not have gone rounds the way they would have liked on race day, they feel positive about the improvements they are making.

In her 12,000-horsepower Top Fuel dragster, Jasmine Salinas made the most of her fifth professional start in the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series as she powered onto the track in some of the hottest conditions she’s experienced thus far. Qualifying on Friday evening got off to a great start for the rookie as she made two stellar passes, laying down a fierce run of 3.896 seconds at 308.50 mph in the first session of the weekend. She followed it by producing an even more impressive lap of 3.798 at 320.28.

Despite hot and greasy track conditions on Saturday, Salinas made the second-quickest pass of the round in the third qualifying session with another consistently stunning showing, laying down a 3.897 at 292.65. In the final qualifying opportunity, the track got the better of her causing her to lose traction early. 

Salinas entered race day in the No. 11 position where she faced Antron Brown for the first time in her career. She smoked the tires early and tried to pedal it to catch Brown, but the track was too loose and she crossed the center line. Her intuition and experience came together as Salinas managed to keep the powerful Scrappers Racing machine off the wall, making a valuable save. 

“This was the hottest track I’ve run on thus far so experiencing a greasy track in a Top Fuel car was a necessary learning experience,” Salinas remarked. “Especially as these next few months, the tracks are only going to get hotter and hotter. I had some highs and some lows this weekend. But as long as I’m walking away with new lessons and things to work on after each race, I know we’re headed in the right direction. I can’t say enough how blessed I feel to have this incredible crew led by Rob Flynn and Arron Cave. They are so dedicated and brilliant. It’s an honor to race with them.”

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Jianna Evaristo made the most of her third event competing aboard her new Scrappers Racing Buell. After clicking off early in her first qualifying pass on Friday, she made a powerful move in the right direction on Friday evening when she laid down a fiery lap of 7.065 seconds at 195.90 mph. In the heat of the day on Saturday, Evaristo made a compelling statement when she ran a blistering 6.956 at 195.28 to ensure a spot on the ladder for her team led by world champion Matt Smith. 

On race day, No. 14 Evaristo faced off against the No. 3 rider LE Tonglet for the first time in competition. Despite a wicked reaction time of .028 seconds, Evaristo’s Scrappers Racing Buell drifted toward the wall and she had to shut off early, giving the round win to Tonglet.

“I’m continuing to push myself to conquer the challenge of this bike and I think I’m getting close. I am so grateful to be surrounded by a team that can guide me when faced with tricky track conditions like we experienced this weekend,” said Evaristo.”It’s thanks to them that we were able to get this Buell aligned properly to put on a good show for the fans because they were out in full force this weekend. When the grandstands are packed, it turns up the intensity for us and I love it! We are learning more with every pass I make, and that progress drives my motivation. Once I have a little more seat time, we will be a force. It’s all coming together.”

Salinas will continue her Top Fuel rookie season at the NHRA New England Nationals, May 31-June 2 at New England Dragway in Epping N.H. Evaristo will rejoin her sister when the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series rolls into Bristol, Tenn. for the Super Grip NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway June 7-9. 

This story was originally published on May 20, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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