A very fast-rising power within NHRA’s Top Fuel class racing earns career victory #1….

Californian Mike Salinas picked up his first career NHRA title during the 20th annual DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at the Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway — and with that became NHRA’s 107th winner within it’s ultimate Top Fuel dragster category.

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 – during what was NHRA’s second 4-wide event presentation at Las Vegas.

For the second time in “The Strip @ LVMS” track history — NHRA Pro Racers went 4-wide in competition.

Salinas started the race day from the No. 1 qualifier position. He powered his Scrappers Racing dragster to a victorious 3.801-second, 330.39 mph pass when he outran 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.

Mike Salinas has enhanced his growing presence within NHRA championship drag racing with his first ever career title.

“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.”

The reigning Funny Car world champion Todd drove his DHL Toyota Camry to pick up the Funny Car title on Sunday with his 3.970 pass at 319.07. He has won three consecutive events at the Las Vegas track.

Todd 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 ahold of this place.”

Defending NHRA World Champ JR Todd earned his first win of the season in Funny Car.

In Pro Stock, Butner picked up his third win of the 2019 season with his Jim Butner’s Auto Chevy Camaro team 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 quad 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.

Bo Butner has now won three of the first 4 NHRA races in Pro Stock for 2019.

“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 and just very blessed and can’t complain.”

Arana Jr. picked up the win on his Lucas Oil EBR amongst a quadrant of champions consisting of reigning champ Matt Smith, five-time champion Andrew Hines and four-time champion Eddie Krawiec. M. Smith came in second as Hines broke on the starting line and Krawiec fouled out with his red light start.

Racing for Lucas Oil — Hector Arana Jr. emerged victorious in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

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.

The Lucas Oil Lowdown

NHRA’s backbone Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series racers anchored the impressive event and featured rising star winners in both Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car.

Female racer Jackie Fricke scored her 4th career win in the TAD final when she used a holeshot to upset defending 3X NHRA Lucas Oil World Champion Joey Severance in the championship round. Jackie, who is from New Jersey and who races an injected nitro car, combined a superior RT with a run of 5.319 secs at 267.32 mph to topple Severence’s quicker and faster 5.286 secs at 273.94 mph. Fricke was also credited with top speed for the class at 280.02 mph – during her second round win.

Jackie Fricke (far lane) used a better RT in the TAD final to upset World Champion Joey Severence.

Chris Marshall (from Oregon) scored in the TAFC class when he beat Doug Gordon in a final round battle of Chevy Camaro cars.
Marshall’s win was his second and came in his 3rd career final round. He was also credited with low ET for the class with a quick 5.463 secs.

Chris and Briana Marshall celebrated their 3rd nationals win in the Lucas Oil TAFC class category.

The event’s Top Dragster and Top Sportsman class categories both drew in impressive event entry lists — which is atypical of that type of racing in the Pacific Southwest region. In the end both categories featured California-based winning drivers.

The TD title ultimately went to Andy Spiegel who scored his second win at the Las Vegas facility with a final round 6.736 secs at 197.80 mph win light over Montana’s Robert Tehle.

TD winner – Andy Spiegel

Doug Crumlich wheeled his very cool LA-area based ’63 Corvette to his first ever NHRA national event title — stopping Jeff Gillette’s GTO in the final round.

Racing a ’63 Corvette –Doug Crumlich won the TS title.

The event’s Super Stock class final round was a USA vs Canada affair with two seasoned class veterans facing off. Virginia’s Anthony Bertozzi denied Alberta’s Don Thomas his first NHRA win in a close victory. Bertozzi’s ran a winning 9.214 (9.21 dial) to Thomas’ 10.602 (10.60 dial) with his .008 RT being the difference. That was Bertozzi’s 14th nationals win in NHRA Super Stock racing.

The Super Stock final featured two Pontiac racers with Anthony Bertozzi (far lane) narrowly edging out Canada’s Don Thomas.

Racing his Pontiac Sunfire D/SMA, it was Doug Lambeck who scored in Comp for the 7th time while Jeremy Jerome earned his first win in Stock with his ’74 Duster. The event’s index class titles went to two California drivers, Mark Perivolaris in Super Comp (9.05) his 3rd career win and Tanner Hiatt in Super Gas (10.05) – his career first.

Jeremy Jerome won in Stock with his Plymouth Duster.

The Super Comp winner was Mark Perivolaris

The Super Gas final featured all Corvettes with Tanner Hiatt (far lane) winning for the first time over Steve Williams

Doug Lambeck’s Sunfire (far lane) ran down Josh Lee’s H/EA in the Comp final.

Posted with files by NHRA Communications and Bruce Biegler
Photos by Bob Johnson