Mike Salinas figures he’s a win waiting to happen. He’s been close, and he certainly has a dragster capable of doing it, so the Top Fuel driver figures now is as good a time as ever to pick up his first victory this season.
He’s currently sixth in points entering this weekend’s Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil, which is also the first race in the Countdown to the Championship.
Salinas was one of the hard-luck racers who didn’t make a strong run in Indy during the only qualifying session, keeping him out of the field and from possibly staying in the top five entering the playoffs.
It wasn’t ideal, but it hasn’t wavered Salinas’ confidence this weekend at Maple Grove Raceway.
“You know, last weekend was unfortunate, but the bottom line is we have to have our stuff together,” Salinas said. “I think we're ready. I think we're right there and I'm ready to rock and roll. Let’s get this thing going.”
Salinas has advanced to one final round this season in his 11,000-horsepower Scrappers Racing dragster, falling to Billy Torrence in the championship round at Epping. He wishes he could have that round back, but the team has put together a number of solid runs, qualifying in the top five at nine different races.
Heading to a fast track like Maple Grove Raceway and having Alan Johnson as a tuner, Salinas expects another weekend of impressive passes.
“You’ve got to have confidence that the team is doing exactly what they're supposed to be doing, and as a driver, I’ve got to rise to the occasion and make sure that I do what I'm supposed to do. Allen’s great at what he does. We've had some silly things happen to us, but you’ve got to push forward and keep moving. We're expected to go fast, we're expected to be at the front and I hold our team to a higher standard. That brings out the best in everyone.”
Before the unfortunate result in Indy, Salinas qualified third at three straight races. He’s also advanced to the semifinals in Denver and Pomona, meaning the team appears to be on the cusp of a big weekend. Of course, none of the standouts in Top Fuel are going to hand Salinas anything, but he’s more than ready to work for it.
He’s remained focused on what his team is doing and it’s helped him stay relaxed in the dragster. Salinas isn’t concerned about who is in the other lane, but he’s also not backing down from a challenge. He’s more than game to try to take down the likes of points leader and three-time defending world champ Steve Torrence, knowing full well it’s a massive task.
But with a standout team behind him, Salinas isn’t lacking confidence and he’s ready for that to translate into victories in the Countdown to the Championship.
“I just want to race the best,” Salinas said. “We’re close and we’re right there. The confidence is there. We’ve been knocking at the door all year and I think we’re ready. A good start sets the momentum. We have all the parts and pieces. Everything’s in place, so there’s no reason for us to not be one of the frontrunners.”