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Robert Hight, Mike Salinas, Dallas Glenn & Gaige Herrera Top Qualifiers For NHRA Route 66 Nationals

JOLIET, Ill. (May 20, 2023) – Robert Hight and the Cornwell Tools / AAA Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car team earned their first No. 1 qualifier of the season Saturday at the Gerber Glass & Collision NHRA Route 66 Nationals presented by PEAK Performance.

Already No. 1 heading into Saturday, Hight and the Cornwell Tools team struggled off the line Saturday afternoon coasting to 12.809-seconds and 64.03 mph before being quickest of the final session with a 3.896 pass at 326.48 mph. Hight earned his 78th No. 1 of his career, fifth at Route 66 Raceway off his track record 3.831-second run at 335.07 mph. The Cornwell Tools team’s effort puts them against Dale Creasy Jr. in the first round of eliminations.

“We’ve been changing some combinations around a little bit and I think we’ve qualified No. 2 a couple times so we’ve been right there. Feels good to get this one. There’s a lot of good cars and it’s great timing to be No. 1 at our first race with Cornwell Tools. It’s going to be a battle tomorrow,” said Hight who has earned a No. 1 qualifier in every season that he has compete for a championship. “I wish we could have gone down Q2 and it didn’t even move. It blew the tires off at the hit. We rebounded, made a came back and made another respectable run at night after the conditions started to come around. It gives us confidence especially knowing it’s going to be very similar conditions, because it cools off pretty good at night with that 11 a.m. start. But in the middle of the day, second and third round, it’s going to be trickier than we’ve seen all weekend and that’s when we’ve got to earn it, really depend on the crew chiefs, that’s what they’re paid to do.”

Top Fuel pilot Mike Salinas powered his Gerber Collision & Glass Scrappers Racing dragster to the No. 1 qualifier position at the Gerber Collision & Glass NHRA Route 66 Nationals presented by PEAK Performance. The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series is competing at Route 66 Raceway just outside of Chicago for the first time since 2019. Salinas also nabbed the top qualifying spot at that event and achieved a runner-up finish on race day.

In a season full of ups and downs for the team, Salinas feels confident that they’ve found a winning combination thanks to diligent testing in the week leading up to this highly-anticipated event. His blistering pass of 3.686 seconds at 333.41 mph laid down on Friday night rocketed the talented driver and team owner to the top spot.

“We found a few things in testing that moved us in the right direction,” said M. Salinas. “The entire Top Fuel category is really performing well and it’s going to be a heated competition tomorrow. I’m confident in my team and I can’t thank them enough for all of the hard work they’ve been doing.”

Salinas will face the No. 16 Top Fuel qualifier, T.J. Zizzo, in the first round of eliminations tomorrow morning.

Incoming Pro Stock points leader Dallas Glenn has only raced in Chicago on one previous occasion – as a Sportsman racer in the JEGS Allstars – and he lost in the first round to Bo Butner. Many years have passed since, and starting from the No. 1 spot, Glenn is eager to make good with Route 66 Raceway. His 6.510 in the RAD Torque Systems Chevrolet Camaro sent him right to the top in the second session of qualifying, and it also reset the Route 66 Raceway track record for elapsed time. It was, however, accompanied by a red light, which equated to a first-round loss to Erica Enders in the highly anticipated NHRA Pro Stock All-Star Callout. He will race Chris McGaha in round one.

"I've had a really good car all season long," said Glenn. "It seems like the last few races, they've kind of snuck by me on the best session, so this feels really good. That run, it had extra pressure with the callout race, and I knew I was red before the red light even came on. I just knew I was letting go early as it was happening, but the run just felt awesome. Somehow, I managed to hit every shift and keep it dead straight. It was a very, very nice run, and that should be some good momentum going into tomorrow."

No. 2 qualifier Deric Kramer (6.515) is one of just three active Pro Stock drivers to have previously won in Chicago, and he got it done the last time he was at the facility in 2019. Hot off a Charlotte win that closed a long winless drought, he'll be looking to continue the momentum – but so will No. 3 qualifier Bo Butner (6.519), who has yet to win in the two seasons he's been behind the wheel of his Johnson's Horsepowered Garage entry. Butner was the provisional low qualifier on Friday for the first time this season to show he has a capable horse to ride. His Elite Motorsports teammate, Troy Coughlin Jr., detonated an engine during the All-Star Callout, but he came back for the third and final qualifying round ready to try again. He'll start fourth on a matching 6.519. Callout winner Camrie Caruso is No. 5 on the sheet (6.524), Aaron Stanfield is sixth (6.525) followed by Elite teammate Cristian Cuadra (6.529) and KB Titan-powered Matt Hartford (6.531).

Gaige Herrera continues to flex muscle in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class aboard his Vance & Hines Mission Foods Suzuki and reset both ends of the track record in qualifying to secure the No. 1 and sweep up Saturday with a Mission Food #2Fast2Tasty win. Herrera's 6.672 at 202.45 mph will be a lot for first-round opponent Ron Tornow to overcome, but Sunday is a new day.

"I know right now it looks like we have everyone covered by a lot, but I feel like everyone is going to be right there soon," said Herrera, who has claimed every accolade up for grabs so far this season. "But Andrew [Hines] has this thing on rails, and it's the baddest bike out there. It's showing. They're flexing their horsepower, for sure.

"It would mean a lot to win here. It's my first time racing here, and I have a lot of friends and family here. If I'm able to get a win here tomorrow, it would definitely be a special one."

Chip Ellis, the 2005 Chicago winner, will start from the No. 2 position on a sturdy 6.756, and two-time Route 66 Raceway champ Hector Arana is No. 3 on a 6.759. Herrera's Vance & Hines teammate Eddie Krawiec will be looking for his first win of the season and first victory in Chicago from the No. 4 spot (6.770), with Joey Gladstone starting fifth on a 6.774. Defending event titlist and two-time Chicago winner Matt Smith, the reigning world champion, is No. 6 (6.781), with newcomer Chase Van Sant seventh (6.785). Angie Smith rounds out the quick eight with her best time of 6.800.

The Gerber Collision & Glass Route 66 Nationals presented by PEAK Performance at Route 66 Raceway continues with eliminations Sunday at 11:00 a.m. Television coverage will continue with a second qualifying show Sunday at 3:00 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1 (FS1). Eliminations are slated to air Sunday at 10:00 p.m. ET on FS1.

Content: JFR PR | Jessica Hatcher - Imagination 9 | NHRA (Kelly Wade)

Photo: NHRA | JFR PR (Gary Nastase, Auto Imagery)

Catch the full recap from Kelly Wade:

Saturday's photo gallery from NHRA National Dragster staff:


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