Red-Hot Mike Salinas on Top

Mike Salinas won Top Fuel’s No. 1 qualifier on Saturday at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, closing in on his third straight victory at Bristol Dragway.

Robert Hight (Funny Car), Aaron Stanfield (Pro Stock) and Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also qualified No. 1 in the ninth of 22 races in the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.

Salinas took first place in his 11,000 horsepower Valley Services/Scrappers Racing dragster in the final qualifying session, clocking 3.767 seconds at 327.59 mph to earn his second No. 1 position this year and 10th of his career. Seeking his fourth win this year, Salinas has won the last two races at Bristol and also qualified for the last three final rounds at the track. He’s felt right at home in Thunder Valley for the past few years and will open the eliminations on Sunday against Cameron Ferre.

“I’ve won Father’s Day here before (in 2019) and it would be very special to do it again,” Salinas said. “This place has a special place in my heart. I don’t know why he likes me so much, but it’s just beautiful here. (But) I think tomorrow you’ll be surprised how fast these cars go. I think they’re going to be in the low 3.70s. The good thing is that we showed that we can win from any place. There is no ego in this team and it was really cool to see this year.

Steve Torrence, who was the No. 1 provisional qualifier on Friday, was second after his 3.791 at 317.79 and Josh Hart is third with a 3.791 at 316.60. Points leader Brittany Force qualified in fifth place.

Robert Hight is Funny Car’s top seed for Sunday’s eliminations in Bristol.

NHRA/National Dragster

Hight stayed ahead in Funny Car thanks to his 3.971 to 310.98 on Friday in his 11,000-hp Chevrolet Camaro SS Auto Club, giving him his 73rd career No. It’s also his second No. 1 qualifier of 2022, as he continues to battle Matt Hagan for the points lead. Both riders have three wins and Hight will be looking for a fourth this year on Sunday. He admitted the team still had work to do on race day to get the car running smoothly in Bristol.

“I certainly didn’t think this race (starting Friday) was going to be the best,” Hight said. “We went there last time trying to run better but it put a cylinder out early. To be in the position that we’re in is really good because heading into race day I still don’t think we have a good grasp of this thing based on our last race. I have a good feeling if we’re able to do four three-second runs tomorrow we’ll hold the trophy at the end of the day, and that’s the goal. It was an impressive crowd today. Seeing a full house is just awesome.

Tim Wilkerson moved up to second in the final session, passing 3.996 at 317.05, while Hight’s teammate John Force made the only other three-second run with his pass of 3.997 at 321.96. Hagan is one spot behind in fourth.

After finishing second at Epping and racing at Bristol Dragway for the first time in his Pro Stock career, Stanfield jumped into first place on Saturday in his Janac Brothers Chevrolet Camaro with an impressive run of 6.638 to 206.57. It gives the standout youngster his third No.1 qualifier this season and fourth of his career. He’s been No. 1 three times in the last five races, but Stanfield, who opens the eliminations against Wally Stroupe, is after his first win since February. Stanfield, who is second in points, will look to become the third active rider in the class to win at Thunder Valley along with reigning world champion Greg Anderson and Erica Enders.

“The crew chiefs did their job and they did a great job,” Stanfield said. “All the car guys gave me the best car they could give me and it’s up to me to do my job tomorrow. It’s definitely really cool to qualify #1 here on such a great track. We haven’t had the best chance of the No. 1 spot in my career yet, so we’ll see if we can turn things around tomorrow.

Rookie Camrie Caruso qualified second with his run of 6.644 at 204.23, also posting the fastest run of the final session, while points leader Enders, who is aiming for his fourth consecutive victory, is third with a 6.658 at 205.63.

Seeking his second straight win at Bristol – and his first win this season – Sampey was nearly untouchable this weekend at Thunder Valley, qualifying No. 1 on his Vance & Hines/Mission Foods Suzuki with a 6.874 assist at 196.04. Sampey improved on her Friday time which initially put her in first place, also giving the world three-timer her 55th No. 1 qualification, and she will open the day of racing against LE Tonglet. Bristol have been very good for Sampey so far and getting a first win of 2022 on Sunday would ensure that continues.

“I changed my routine a bit and I want to keep training,” Sampey said. “(Team manager) Andrew (Hines) and I have been working on that, Eddie (Krawiec) is also helping. Andrew did a great job. This Suzuki Vance & Hines is on a roll. The bike is a beauty. I’m a little disappointed with my reaction time that lap, I don’t know what I did wrong, but we have tomorrow. I never thought I would qualify as No. 1. I never thought I would win the race last year so who knows what will happen. I just hope I end up on the bright side.

Joey Gladstone made an impressive move in the final qualifying session, moving up to second with a 6.889 run at 194.44. Points leader Steve Johnson, on his third win of 2022, qualified third with a 6.894 at 195.39.

NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals

Qualifying results, Sunday elimination pairings

Top fuel — 1. Mike Salinas, 3.767 seconds, 327.59 mph against 16. Cameron Ferre, 4.438, 189.34; 2. Steve Torrence, 3.791, 317.79 vs. 15. Lex Joon, 4.253, 212.19; 3. Josh Hart, 3.791, 316.60 vs. 14. Justin Ashley, 3.975, 252.95; 4. Antron Brown, 3.802, 323.35 vs. 13. Tony Schumacher, 3.913, 306.33; 5. Force de Bretagne, 3.807, 325.69 against 12. Doug Kalitta, 3.877, 321.12; 6. Clay Millican, 3.808, 321.73 vs. 11. Doug Foley, 3.870, 316.75; 7. Austin Prock, 3.835, 325.30 vs. 10. Leah Pruett, 3.867, 318.32; 8. Spencer Massey, 3.861, 319.60 v 9. Shawn Langdon, 3.861, 319.07.

funny car — 1. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.971, 310.98 vs. Bye; 2. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.996, 317.05 to 15. Jack Wyatt, Dodge Charger, 6.519, 106.21; 3. John Force, Camaro, 3.997, 321.96 vs. 14. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 5.498, 132.54; 4. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.014, 318.09 vs. 13. Phil Burkart, Chevy Monte Carlo, 4.857, 173.67; 5. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.035, 316.90 vs. 12. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Supra, 4.461, 214.08; 6. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 4.068, 312.71 vs. 11. JR Todd, Supra, 4.390, 222.51; 7. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.080, 306.19 vs. 10. Chad Green, Mustang, 4.212, 259.16; 8. Paul Lee, Charger, 4.084, 310.77 vs. 9. Ron Capps, Supra, 4.087, 311.70.

Professional stock — 1. Aaron Stanfield, Chevy Camaro, 6.638, 206.57 vs. 16. Wally Stroupe, Camaro, 6.735, 203.52; 2. Camrie Caruso, Camaro, 6.644, 204.23 vs. 15. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.717, 204.29; 3. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.658, 205.63 vs. 14. Cristian Cuadra, Ford Mustang, 6.703, 205.10; 4. Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.662, 204.60 vs. 13. Mason McGaha, Camaro, 6.692, 204.70; 5. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.663, 204.88 vs. 12. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.691, 204.91; 6. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.664, 205.54 vs. 11. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.688, 205.60; 7. Dallas Glenn, Camaro, 6.675, 204.76 vs. 10. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.685, 206.54; 8. Troy Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.682, 205.85 vs. 9. Fernando Cuadra Jr., Mustang, 6.683, 204.98. Did not qualify: 17. Alan Prusiensky, 6.739, 203.16; 18. Fernando Cuadra, 6.788, 203.03; 19. Shane Tucker, 6.901, 203.77; 20. Larry Morgan, 7.826, 151.09.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Angelle Sampey, Suzuki, 6.874, 196.04 vs. 16. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 7.228, 185.36; 2. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.889, 194.44 vs. 15. Jianna Evaristo, Suzuki, 7.222, 182.65; 3. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.894, 195.39 vs. 14. Ron Tornow, Victory, 7.097, 189.23; 4. Marc Ingwersen, EBR, 6.921, 194.35 vs. 13. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 7.067, 191.40; 5. Matt Smith, Suzuki, 6.927, 195.62 vs. 12. Chris Bostick, Suzuki, 7.016, 190.89; 6. Angie Smith, EBR, 6.932, 196.82 vs. 11. Malcolm Phillips Jr., Suzuki, 6.980, 192.66; 7. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.943, 194.18 vs. 10. Eddie Krawiec, Suzuki, 6.965, 195.00; 8. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.947, 194.35 vs. 9. Ryan Oehler, EBR, 6.956, 195.19. Did not qualify: 17. Wesley Wells, 7.426, 180.84.

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