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Mike Salinas Gets Back Into Top Fuel Championship Hunt With NHRA Nevada Nationals Victory In Vegas

LAS VEGAS (Oct. 29, 2023) – Mike Salinas captured a statement victory in Las Vegas and opened the door a little wider in his search for a championship.

Salinas needed a big weekend and a little help to keep himself in the championship battle heading to the season finale in Pomona and got it with a hug win and early exits by the leaders. Salinas started the weekend sixth in points and 131 behind the lead but finished fourth and 76 back of a new leader with a solid 3.67 in the final round to stop Justin Ashley, who also had a great get-well weekend but shook the tires in the final. The win was Salinas’ second of the season but his first season opener in Gainesville.

"We came into this race and I told my guys, we need to win this race and the next one to even matter," said Salinas. "So let's focus on one round at a time, one race at a time, and we achieved the goal of winning this race, so now we have four rounds to win at the next race, and that's how we have to look at it because we're a stepchild on the outside looking in. We were badass today, we were the best car out here, but we think there's more.

"We've been working on this car since Gainesville and it has shown signs of greatness, but the consistency has been evading us so we were trying to get more consistent. We have come across some stuff that we were working on, it seemed to work and today is the best day we've had all year and the car's showing amazing signs. If we can continue to do what we're doing here, it'll be a great weekend. in Pomona, but tomorrow we're gonna test. We're gonna test because we're serious about where we're going to Pomona. We have to be in a certain zip code because, in our own eyes, we're not even in the game."

Salinas’ Rob Flynn-tuned Valley Services dragster entered eliminations from the No. 1 qualifying spot and delivered a blizzard of 3.6-second passes to reach the final, ripping to a 3.69 in round one to get past Rob Passey, a 3.68 in the second frame to trailer Tony Schumacher, and low e,t. of eliminations 3.663 in the semifinals to beat Josh Hart, who had eliminated the top two points runners, Leah Pruett and Doug Kalitta, on back-to-back holeshots in the first two rounds.

Justin Ashely came into the race in fourth place and knew he needed a huge weekend to get back into the title fight, and his Mike Green- and Tommy DeLago-tuned Leatherwood Distillery/Phillips Connect team responded by qualifying him fourth and then tuning him to the final with wins over Dan Mercier, Austin Prock, and, on a 3.73 to 3.68 semifinal holeshot, new points leader Steve Torrence. It was Ashley’s first final since he won in Topeka in early August.

Torrence’s lead going to Pomona will be 15 points over Kalitta and 34 over Pruett.

The 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season comes to a close November 10-12 at In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip with the In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals.

See the latest from the NHRA:

NHRA Nevada Nationals Sunday photo gallery:

Unofficial points standings following the completion of the NHRA Nevada Nationals, the 20th race of the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season and the fifth of six events in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs.

Photo's: NHRA | Scrappers Racing

Content: NHRA


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