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Top Fuel star Mike Salinas searching for repeat win at Thunder Valley Nationals

Surging Top Fuel driver Mike Salinas has won the last two NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals events, has been to the last three final rounds at Bristol Dragway, and has found an impressive comfort level at the picturesque facility.
16 Jun 2022
Posted by NHRA.com staff
Mike Salinas

In terms of feeling right at home, Bristol Dragway might be the perfect location for standout Mike Salinas. The surging Top Fuel driver has won the last two races at Thunder Valley, has been to the last three final rounds, and has found an impressive comfort level at the picturesque facility.
He’ll try to keep those good feelings going at this weekend’s NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, which is back on Father’s Day Weekend and will feature all four Professional categories (Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle) for the first time ever. Salinas is one of many eager to rumble in the Tennessee mountains, bringing plenty of previous and current success to the race in his 11,000-horsepower Pep Boys/Scrappers Racing dragster.
In addition to the consecutive wins in Bristol, Salinas has posted three victories during the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season, including at the most recent race in Epping, giving him plenty of momentum heading to one of his favorite tracks on the NHRA tour.

“Bristol has been really good to us, and I love that place,” Salinas said. “The mountains, the way the track is set up and the people there, it’s just awesome. It’s been a really good place to us, and we love going there. We’re very excited about where we’re going, and we have so much more left for this season as we continue to grow.

Salinas (Top Fuel), Alexis DeJoria (Funny Car), and Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle) all picked up wins last year in Bristol, and this year’s race will be broadcast on FOX broadcast network and FOX Sports 1 (FS1). The Father’s Day weekend race is the ninth of 22 races during the 2022 season and the first portion of the season couldn’t have gone much better for Salinas.

The three wins have helped catapult him to second in points, where he trails Brittany Force, who also has a trio of victories this year, by just 30 points. It’s already been an outstanding year for Salinas, who has praised the efforts of new crew chief Rob Flynn and his talented team, but he’s searching for more. Facing off against the likes of Force, four-time defending world champ Steve Torrence, Antron Brown, six-time Bristol winner Tony Schumacher, veteran Doug Kalitta, Pomona winner Justin Ashley, Austin Prock, Leah Pruett, and Clay Millican, Salinas has his eyes on a Top Fuel championship.

“Rob Flynn and this team, it’s like a dream team,” Salinas said. “You’ve got some of the old school and the new school. We’ve had the recipe for a great product, and they’ve changed the recipe to match their needs. It’s their tune-up now. They’re running the car a different way, and the experience and ideology Rob brings to the table is amazing. The car is running really well. I’m getting more runs under my belt, and I'm learning stuff all the time. We hold ourselves to a higher level to run well, we’re running smooth and fast, and there’s so much more left in the tank.”

NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature one round at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, June 17, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, June 18 at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 12 p.m. ET on Sunday, June 19. Television coverage includes live qualifying action on FS1 at 8 p.m. ET on Friday, 11 p.m. on Saturday, and then live eliminations action at 3 p.m. ET on FOX on Sunday.

To purchase tickets to the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, call 866-415-4158 or visit www.bristoldragway.com. Children 12 and under are admitted free with a paid adult.