There’s no pushing the panic button yet for Top Fuel owner/driver Mike Salinas.
Yet, with five races left in NHRA’s Mello Yello Series Countdown to the Championship, Salinas knows it’s time to start making a push for the coveted world championship, which would be his first.
“We have a good car and we’re going to do one round at a time, one lap at a time,” Salinas said. “We have a good car; good parts and we have everything in place to go do it we just have to pull it off. A squirrel jumps up in front of you and it throws a monkey wrench in everything you’re doing.”
Salinas is in sixth place in the points standings – 76 points behind leader Doug Kalitta. The next race in the Countdown is the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals Sept. 27-29 in St. Louis.
“We are roughly four rounds out (of first place),” Salinas said. “Anybody who is going to win this championship has to win two of the final five races. The cool part is that Doug Kalitta and Richie Crampton’s cars are running well, and we will see how they run (in St. Louis) because they have not like that all year..”
Crampton, who drives for Kalitta Motorsports, won the Top Fuel title Sept. 15 at the Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals Presented By Pennzoil at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa. Crampton beat Doug Kalitta in the final round.
Salinas qualified No. 6 and beat Billy Torrence in the first round before being upended by Kalitta in the second round.
“The coolest thing about drag racing is we don’t know what is going to happen, but we’re ready to go,” Salinas said. “I have the best of everything. I have Alan Johnson and Brian Husen. We just have to go out there and execute and do our job. We are not under pressure. We are going to go out there and do our very, very best and whatever happens, happens. That’s how I look at it. You start getting all crazy about it, you’re going to put stress on yourself you don’t need. It’s hard enough to go do this stuff. I’m excited to be in the top half with these guys. It is cool for me to be out there and having fun and we’re going to have fun, one round at a time.”
A year ago, Salinas finished a career-best seventh in the Top Fuel points standings.
This season, Salinas has two race wins in Las Vegas and Bristol, Tenn., and two runner-up finishes in Chicago and Brainerd, Minn.
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019