Mike Salinas said he and his race team fell on their faces in the last two races of the NHRA season.
During Friday’s Denso Spark Plugs Four-Wide Nationals qualifying at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, they bounced back to their feet.
“All the guys were preparing for this,” Salinas said after posting a 3.705-second elapsed time at 328.46 mph to charge past Brittany Force during the second round of Top Fuel qualifying and grab the top spot. “They were watching the weather and preparing for this and had a pretty good handle of what they were supposed to do.
“Since we fell on our face in Arizona and Gainesville, we didn’t want that to happen again.”
Force could not improve on her first-session time and settled for third spot with a 3.733, a tick behind reigning Top Fuel champ Steve Torrence’s 3.721.
In Funny Car, veteran Tim Wilkinson continued to ride momentum from a second-place finish at Gainesville by posting a provisional quick qualifying time of 3.895 at 325.50 mph.
“I’ve been very critical about track prep stuff this year — we didn’t have a very good Friday at Phoenix or Gainesville, and I talked to Josh (Peterson, NHRA vice president) about that,” Wilkinson said after topping Ron Capps (3.897) and defending champion J.R. Todd (3.919) for first-day honors. “I said, ‘You guys got a big job ahead of you,’ and he said, ‘We think we know what we did (wrong) and we’re gonna fix it.’ So good job.”
Bo Butner was fastest in Pro Stock, charging to the top of the qualifying sheet with a 6.648 ET in the second session. Rodger Brogdon and Jeg Coughlin Jr. followed with identical 6.665s.
“We’ve always kind of had it but now it’s just coming around to our turn,” Butner said about finding late afternoon qualifying speed and jumping from sixth place to first. “That’s how drag racing is, ups and downs.”
Chris McGaha had a moment when flames shot from beneath his Camaro, but he was able to scramble to safety while the fire was extinguished.
Four-Wide NHRA Nationals
■ What: Denso Sparks Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, round 4 of the 24-race NHRA Mello Yello Drag Series.
■ When: Qualifying, 12:30 and 3 p.m. Saturday. Final eliminations, noon Sunday.
■ Where: The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
■ TV: FS1.
■ Information: NHRA.com, lvms.com.