Positivity powers Jasmine Salinas’ Top Fuel effort in Phoenix

By Cole Cusumano, Staff Writer

PHOENIX – Jasmine Salinas was put into a difficult situation when making her Top Fuel debut at the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals. 

The daughter of nine-time winner Mike Salinas came into the 2024 season with the intention of making her first start later in the year. But when the seasoned veteran elected to sit out for an unspecified amount of time due to a personal health matter, she got the call to strap into the 11,000-horsepower Scrappers Racing dragster in just the second race of the season.

“I’ll definitely admit getting Pomona out of the way felt really good,” Salinas told Kickin’ the Tires. “I think minus my crash that I had in 2021, and then getting back in the car a couple of races later, I would say Pomona was probably the second-hardest thing I’ve had to do so far in my career.

“I did feel thrown into it,” Salinas added. “I think because I had, like, three days to kind of process it. But at the same time, I’ve known that this is what I wanted to do since I got my license last year. So I’ve always kind of been preparing. 

“But I had no idea that this would be happening with my dad. None of us did.” 

Having won the Division 3 Top Alcohol Dragster championship in 2022, along with tying for second-place in the National Standings for Top Alcohol Dragster in the same year, Salinas knew she was ready to make the jump to Top Fuel.

However, given the circumstances and short notice, her debut didn’t quite go as planned.

After her father was a second round exit in the eliminations at Gainesville Raceway, Salinas failed to make it out of the first round in Pomona against reigning champ Doug Kalitta, as the throttle cable came off during her burnout.

With first-race jitters out of her system – and a healthy father on her conscience – Salinas entered Firebird Motorsports Park in high spirits and the strong mental fortitude she’s historically brought to the drag strip each week.

“There was a lot to learn in Pomona just showing up there that whole weekend,” Salinas said. “But I think the biggest thing was being thoughtful of my mindset going into that weekend, and I think that’s something I’ve always tried to be mindful of in my racing career. 

“I think being very conscious and thoughtful of how powerful your mindset is, and staying positive, and having positive thoughts throughout the whole weekend (is important). 

“I can only control so much, especially in Pomona,” Salinas added. “I can control what my thoughts were and what I was doing in the car. Focusing on that is definitely something I’m bringing into Phoenix. It’s just acknowledging what I can control, acknowledging what I can’t control and just trying to do my best.”

While Salinas had initially anticipated making her Top Fuel debut under different conditions, she was able to find some positives in an otherwise difficult situation.

In having to fill in for her father, the 32-year-old was able to inherit the assistance and knowledge of crew chief Rob Flynn, along with guys like Aaron and Adem Cave, who will be of great importance to her development in the Top Fuel ranks.

Had Salinas made her debut as intended, she would’ve been with a brand-new team  who likely never worked together.

“Knowing I’m with my dad’s team, it makes me feel so much more confident every time I’m coming back out here, getting in the car and planning for each weekend that we have moving forward,” Salinas said.

“I think of when I was gonna be coming out in a Top Fuel later this year, it was going be with a whole new team that I never worked with – a whole new group of guys that had never worked together,” Salinas added. “Those are those little nuances that you don’t really think about, but now that I’m out here … I get to see the differences. 

“They’ve all really taught my dad how to race. Now they’re going to teach me, and I’m really appreciative of that.”

In the first round of qualifying for the NHRA Arizona Nationals, Salinas beat Travis Shumake making his debut with an elapsed time of 3.893 seconds down the strip and topping out at 288.33 mph at the 600-foot mark.

Unfortunately, Salinas was bested by Antron Brown by three-one-thousandths-of-a-second in round two of qualifying. But her time of 3.774 seconds was second-fastest only to the three-time Top Fuel champ. 

In the final round of qualifying, Salias beat the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge runner-up Brittany Force, while laying down the fifth-best time.

Next up, Salinas will square off against Shawn Reed as the No. 9 qualifier in the first round of eliminations in Phoenix.

“Obviously, winning is what we all want,” Salinas said. “My dad literally told me, ‘If you think that you’re coming here just to qualify, then just sit out this weekend.’ It’s always the mindset that we’ve always had is if you show up, you show up to win the race. 

Honestly, we have the car (and) we have the team to do that. I 100-percent admit I am the weak link right now to us winning at this point. I’m still expecting to go out and win, because that’s how confident I feel with everybody.”

One thought on “Positivity powers Jasmine Salinas’ Top Fuel effort in Phoenix

  1. Jasmine will do just fine in her new role. She has a veteran team to work with good parts and a supportive family and fan base They are bringing her on slowly and methodically I wish her all the success in the world and to her Dad get well soon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *