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Top Fuel’s Mike Salinas Becomes First Member of the ‘Phillips Connect 300 at the 1/8 Mile’ Club

With a track-record run on Saturday at zMAX Dragway, Top Fuel’s Mike Salinas became the first member of the “Phillips Connect 300 at the 1/8” club, going 300.80-mph in the 1/8-mile during the final round of qualifying at the 15th betway NHRA Carolina Nationals.

Salinas became the first driver in NHRA history to reach the 300-mph milestone in the 1/8-mile in his 11,000-horsepower Valley Services/Scrappers Racing as part of his track-record run of 3.647-seconds at 338.00 that also gave him the No. 1 qualifier spot.

As part of reaching the incredible 300-mph mark in the 1/8-mile and becoming the first member of the “Phillips Connect 300 at the 1/8” club, which was started last season, Salinas will receive a special $30,000 bonus.

“This is surreal. Racers, we all dream about this. It’s just amazing,” Salinas said. “We’re inching up on things. This was not something we just stumbled on. The run itself, from half-track on, it was moving pretty good. I’m new to this stuff still, I’m learning, I’m not a veteran. To be able to do this and be the first at it, it’s amazing.”

Added crew chief Rob Flynn: “That’s absolutely incredible, and my hats off to our whole team. We’ve been struggling, but we’re not giving up. Mike says don’t give up, hit it as hard as you can. We fired everything we could think of that run and thank goodness it stuck. This winter we decided we wanted to shoot for that. To be the first one, that’s really special. It’s never going to happen again, and it was really incredible being on the starting line and everyone congratulating you and everything.”

NHRA and Phillips Connect, an industry leader with connected asset solutions for trailers, chassis, and containers, partnered together to create the unique program, rewarding the milestone feat of technology and engineering among the standout teams in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series.

The program is open to 10 total competitors, and the next nine racers in the nitro categories to reach the mark will also earn recognition and a bonus. But Salinas is the historic first to do it, enjoying the special moment on Saturday in Charlotte.

“There can only be one first and Mike is always going to be remembered for being the first to go 300-mph in the 1/8-mile,” said Phillips Connect EVP Jim Epler, who enjoyed a standout career and was the first Funny Car driver to exceed the 300-mph mark in the quarter-mile. “This is a big accomplishment and it was fun to see. I’m super proud of Mike and his team. Rob Flynn and I worked together 20 years ago and I was real fortunate to work with him. I couldn’t be prouder of them and he will be known for this for the rest of his life.”

The 300-mph mark was one of the last barriers for race teams in the thrilling 11,000-horsepower nitro categories to reach in a safe and controlled manner, and Phillips Connect was eager to create the unique program during the 2022 season. The industry leader has developed innovative IoT sensor connection technology widely used in the freight industry, keeping drivers and their cargo safe. Phillips Connect products are also designed to improve overall safety and security, reduce costs in fleet maintenance, and dramatically enhance fleet asset utilization.

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The second driver to hit the 300-mph mark in the eighth-mile following Salinas will receive $13,000, while the third gets $9,000. The fourth through 10th drivers will each receive $3,000. The purse award is unique to each driver regardless of the driver’s team affiliation and regardless of whether the driver is competing in Top Fuel or Funny Car.

This story was originally published on September 24, 2023. Drag Illustrated

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