Mike Salinas and his new tuner Rob Flynn scored a Top Fuel win in only their second race together at the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park—the second of 22 races during the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season. Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Aaron Stanfield (Pro Stock Car) also picked up wins in front of a huge, enthusiastic crowd.
Salinas grabbed an impressive Top Fuel victory, going 3.751 at 318.24 in his Scrappers Racing dragster to knock off Clay Millican in the final round. It gives Salinas his fourth career victory, but also the second in his last five races dating back to last season, when he finished a career-best third in points.
With crew chief Flynn calling the shots, Salinas picked right back up in 2022 after his hot finish last year, knocking off Jim Maroney, Shawn Langdon, and four-time defending world champ Steve Torrence to reach the final. Salinas put together three runs in the 3.60s before the finals took over the points lead in the loaded Top Fuel class in the process.
“We went through quite a bit to get the right synergy,” Salinas said. “This NHRA racing, it’s a tough game. If you don’t have all the parts and pieces to keep it in place, you’re not going to do very well.
“Rob is a brilliant man, very calm and relaxed, and calculated. He told me he’ll see me in the finals. If you look at our runs, I was blown away. There’s a lot of good stuff going with this team. I’m very confident in where we’re going and what we’re doing, and these guys on this team are something special. I know we can run with these guys in this class, and I know we can beat them.”
Millican enjoyed a strong weekend in Phoenix as well, advancing to his 19th career final round thanks to round wins against Tripp Tatum, and explosive eight-time world champ Tony Schumacher, and Josh Hart.
TOP FUEL results
ROUND ONE — Shawn Langdon, 3.699, 330.47 def. Antron Brown, 3.742, 321.42; Brittany Force, 3.671, 333.49 def. Austin Prock, 4.105, 248.02; Tony Schumacher, 3.892, 263.41 def. Justin Ashley, 4.026, 303.57; Rob Passey, 4.318, 263.62 def. Doug Kalitta, 5.606, 182.01; Mike Salinas, 3.671, 331.12 def. Jim Maroney, 3.977, 257.48; Steve Torrence, 3.686, 328.14 def. Doug Foley, 12.043, 75.60; Clay Millican, 3.768, 320.28 def. Tripp Tatum, 5.289, 115.87; Josh Hart, 3.705, 332.10 def. Leah Pruett, 3.699, 330.07;
QUARTERFINALS — Hart, 3.787, 319.14 def. Passey, 7.889, 85.22; Torrence, 3.710, 325.92 def. Force, 3.709, 330.31; Salinas, 3.692, 330.55 def. Langdon, 3.726, 328.54; Millican, 3.752, 325.85 def. Schumacher, 4.993, 138.83;
SEMIFINALS — Millican, 3.693, 330.15 def. Hart, 3.739, 329.02; Salinas, 3.693, 322.19 def. Torrence, 5.981, 121.76;
FINAL — Salinas, 3.751, 318.24 def. Millican, 3.769, 322.73.
Top Fuel points
- Mike Salinas, 181; 2. Justin Ashley, 159; 3. Steve Torrence, 152; 4. Brittany Force, 139; 5. Josh Hart, 125; 6. Austin Prock, 123; 7. Clay Millican, 122; 8. Tony Schumacher, 89; 9. Shawn Langdon, 86; 10. Antron Brown, 80.
Hight stayed perfect so far this season, rolling to his second straight win.In a marquee final round matchup of two three-time world champions, Hight went 3.837-seconds at 330.39 mph in his Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS. outrunning No. 1 qualifier Matt Hagan and denying Tony Stewart his first win as a NHRA team owner.
After qualifying second (also for a second straight week), Hight was in the 3.80s in all four elimination rounds, powering past Paul Lee, Bob Tasca III and teammate John Force to reach the final. He made the quickest run of eliminations in the final round to extend his points lead and pick up his 55th career victory.
“This is amazing,” said Hight, who picked up his third Phoenix win with his triumph. “You have no idea what it’s like to win one race. I still feel that the Funny Car class is the toughest class out here. From top to bottom, it’s stacked and any given weekend, anyone could step up and win. So, to go and win two in a row in this day and age, that is amazing.
“And if you look back to this strong string of runs that we’re on: five in a row at Auto Club Raceway in the .80s, come her and have seven runs in the .80s, that’s pretty impressive what (crew chief) Jimmy Prock, Chris Cunningham, and the whole Auto Club team came up with over the winter. Even yesterday when the track was 107° and we went up there and ran .84, you don’t surprise Jimmy very often, and that run surprised him, and it surprised me too.
“I’m very fortunate to drive this thing right now. It’s what you dream about and it’s not going to get any easier from here on out. You’ve got big battles – last weekend with Capps, this weekend with Hagan, and you’re going to see a lot of these battles all year long. We just hope we’re up for it.We’ve got a lot of great guys on this team, and it was such a team effort. And all these guys worked hard all winter and it’s all coming together.”
Hagan wrapped up a solid weekend with his new team, setting the track record in qualifying, and advancing to the final round for the first time this season and the 72nd time in his career with round wins against Terry Haddock, Alexis DeJoria, and Tim Wilkerson.
FUNNY CAR results
ROUND ONE — Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.870, 328.30 def. Bobby Bode, Mustang, 5.051, 150.97; John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.250, 211.93 def. Jeff Arend, Chevy Monte Carlo, 5.950, 116.09; Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.864, 329.42 def. Paul Lee, Dodge Charger, 9.484, 65.48; Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.850, 332.26 def. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 4.063, 277.43; Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 4.310, 213.74 def. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Camry, 6.087, 116.66; Ron Capps, Charger, 3.849, 331.20 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.029, 311.20; Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.915, 327.51 def. Chad Green, Mustang, 3.946, 320.81; Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Supra, 3.944, 324.59 def. J.R. Todd, Supra, 4.303, 285.41;
QUARTERFINALS — Wilkerson, 3.856, 331.45 def. Pedregon, 3.905, 326.71; Hagan, 3.864, 329.91 def. DeJoria, 3.941, 324.44; Force, 3.902, 329.42 def. Capps, 3.869, 327.74; Hight, 3.855, 330.55 def. Tasca III, 3.922, 332.84;
SEMIFINALS — Hagan, 3.875, 332.18 def. Wilkerson, 3.857, 333.16; Hight, 3.847, 326.63 def. Force, 7.231, 86.59;
FINAL — Hight, 3.837, 330.39 def. Hagan, 4.045, 267.00.
Funny Car points
- Robert Hight, 247; 2. Matt Hagan, 182; 3. Ron Capps, 159; 4. Cruz Pedregon, 131; 5. Tim Wilkerson, 110; 6. Alexis DeJoria, 106; 7. (tie) John Force, 104; Bob Tasca III, 104; 9. J.R. Todd, 86; 10. Jim Campbell, 64.
A week after advancing to the final round to open the season, Stanfield stayed red-hot and finished the job on Sunday in an all-Elite Motorsports final round, going 6.526 at 210.50 in his Janac Brothers Camaro to beat teammate Troy Coughlin Jr.’s 6.539 at 210.24. It gives Stanfield his fifth career win and first in Phoenix, and also the first since he became a father for the first time just last week.
Like Hight, Stanfield qualified second for the second straight week. He knocked off Alan Prusiensky, reigning world champ Greg Anderson, and Mason McGaha to reach the finals. He went 6.503 against Anderson, posting the quickest run in the class in two years, en route to capping off what’s been a memorable couple weeks for the young standout.
“All weekend we had a good hot rod, and I did just good enough every round as a driver to win,” said Stanfield, who also took over the points lead.
“I can’t thank the guys at Elite enough. I don’t think you could write (the last two weeks) any better than this. There’s been a lot of emotions and a lot of great memories, and I’m just really thankful for all of it. If I can perform well on the starting line, we’ve got a car and a team that’s tough to beat. It’s a long season, but we’ve got a lot of big goals and we’ll see what we can do.”
Making his first appearance at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, Coughlin Jr. picked up his third career final-round berth, knocking off Matt Hartford, Deric Kramer, and No. 1 qualifier Kyle Koretsky to reach the championship round.
PRO STOCK CAR results
ROUND ONE — Camrie Caruso, Chevy Camaro, 6.538, 210.08 def. Cristian Cuadra, Ford Mustang, 6.559, 209.95; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 33.781, 186.74 def. Dallas Glenn, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Mason McGaha, Camaro, 6.547, 208.81 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.555, 209.10; Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.537, 210.18 def. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.571, 209.01; Troy Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.525, 210.97 def. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.564, 208.55; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.544, 210.73 def. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.549, 208.49; Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.528, 210.24 def. John Cerbone, Camaro, 6.560, 209.56; Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.503, 211.23 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, Foul – Red Light;
QUARTERFINALS — M. McGaha, 6.574, 208.88 def. Enders, 6.570, 209.72; Koretsky, 6.555, 210.24 def. Caruso, 6.566, 209.98; Coughlin Jr., 6.558, 210.01 def. Kramer, 6.557, 209.26; Stanfield, 6.534, 210.83 def. Anderson, 6.537, 209.33;
SEMIFINALS — Coughlin Jr., 6.575, 210.18 def. Koretsky, 6.561, 209.46; Stanfield, 6.538, 210.21 def. M. McGaha, 10.278, 88.10;
FINAL — Stanfield, 6.526, 210.50 def. Coughlin Jr., 6.539, 210.24.
Pro Stock Car points
- Aaron Stanfield, 224; 2. Erica Enders, 188; 3. Greg Anderson, 133; 4. Troy Coughlin Jr., 126; 5. Kyle Koretsky, 119; 6. Deric Kramer, 110; 7. Mason McGaha, 103; 8. (tie) Bo Butner, 86; Camrie Caruso, 86; 10. Dallas Glenn, 85.
Super Stock — Ryan McClanahan, Chevy Cobalt, 21.649, 46.98 def. Larry McLanahan, Ford Mustang, Broke – No Show.
Stock Eliminator — Leo Glasbrenner, Chevy Camaro, 9.414, 136.28 def. Jeff Jerome, Plymouth Savoy, 10.164, 130.24.
Super Comp — Dan Foley, Dragster, 8.901, 174.44 def. James Glenn, Dragster, 8.905, 175.09.
Super Gas — Mark Yeager, Chevy Corvette, 9.905, 169.53 def. Mike Boehner, Chevy Camaro, 9.924, 151.17.
Super Street — Matthew Bong, Ford Mustang, 10.901, 136.65 def. Troy Grant, Chevy Nova, 10.882, 141.62.
Top Dragster presented by Vortech Superchargers — Art Hoover, Dragster, 6.428, 207.30 def. Rodger Comstock, Dragster, 7.187, 185.97.
Top Sportsman presented by Vortech Superchargers — Don Meziere, Chevy Cobalt, 6.909, 162.14 def. Mike Ferderer, Pontiac Grand Am, Broke.
The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series returns to action March 10-13 with the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway. The Pep Boys Top Fuel All-Star Callout specialty race will also take place at the event.
story, photos and video courtesy of NHRA and team reports