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Top Fuels Jasmine Salinas Gains Traction, Fans at NHRA Arizona Nationals

Mark Rebilas photos

In front of sellout crowds at Firebird Motorsports Park, Top Fuel pilot Jasmine Salinas and her Scrappers Racing team achieved several milestones, including a new personal best behind the wheel of her Top Fuel dragster at the NHRA Arizona Nationals this weekend.

The magnetic drag racing phenom managed to qualify in the middle of the pack in what was only the second national event of her NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series Top Fuel career. Salinas started the weekend out strong with a good, clean pass in the first round of qualifying on Friday evening despite fighting the unrelenting wind and suboptimal conditions. She got to stage alongside her friend Travis Shumake as he made his Top Fuel debut, adding significance to the moment as she made the first sub-four-second run of her career clocking an E.T. of 3.893 seconds at 252.76 MPH.

It was early Saturday afternoon when Salinas really hit her stride in the second round of qualifying. She made the best pass of her burgeoning career when she laid down an impressive elapsed time of 3.774 seconds at 318.92 MPH. Consistency is key in creating a successful and sustainable Top Fuel program and the Scrappers Racing team, led by renowned crew chief Rob Flynn, demonstrated that when Salinas went 3.780 at 314.61 in the final round of qualifying. She landed solidly in the middle of a standout field of Top Fuel drivers to qualify in the No. 9 spot. This early success is encouraging for Salinas as she continues to learn and hone her Top Fuel driving skills. 

“Everything I’m doing is so new to me,” said Salinas. “I got to line up against Antron Brown and Brittany Force in qualifying. Those are two of my heroes in the sport so that was pretty awesome. I was ‘fangirling’ in the car but trying to play it cool. I think the runs that we had on Saturday were really great. It kind of showed my team and me that we are starting to get the hang of everything. I’m getting more comfortable in the car and with my routine. I have a lot more to go. I need to make more passes but we are doing a lot of testing over the next few months so that should be beneficial.”

Spirits were high for the daughter of Scrappers Racing team owner Mike Salinas as she took to the track to face Shawn Reed in the first round of eliminations. Although the pair left within two-hundredths of a second of each other, Salinas’s 12,000-horsepower machine did not hook up at the hit and she smoked the tires resulting in an early exit. Regardless, the Scrappers Racing team is full of optimism as they continue to make positive improvements at each NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series event. 

“I was referring to the dragster as my dad’s car and then he reminded me that it’s my car now,” recalled Salinas. “He said I need to start creating my bond with the car and I think that’s starting to happen. In Pomona, I definitely felt like I was just a filler for everything. But now I’m starting to take more initiative and feeling more ownership of the program.”

With sellout crowds on Saturday and Sunday, Salinas’s fanbase is growing at an exponential rate. Due to high demand, the team depleted its stock of hero cards before qualifying even finished on Saturday.

“Getting to compete in front of sellout crowds here at Firebird was incredible,” exclaimed Salinas. “I started out getting my Top Fuel license here last year and we were told that it was going to be the final race. I was disappointed because there are tracks that I’ve never been able to race at, and I thought this was going to be one of them. When I found out that the race was back on the schedule, I was excited to come back here just to support my dad. Then when I found out I was going to be racing here myself, that was even more exciting. The amount of people that came out this weekend was so incredible. It really makes me as a driver want to put on the best show possible. When you come out and you see the stands full and you see the crowds walking through the pits, coming up and talking to you, the energy from the fans just makes you want to do a lot better.” 

Although she is leaving Phoenix with new experience and knowledge under her belt, Salinas is eager to turn on the first win light in Top Fuel and move up in the Top Fuel standings where she is currently ranked 13th. She won’t have to wait long for another opportunity to do just that when the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series heads to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway next weekend, April 12-14, for the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals.

This story was originally published on April 8, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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