Pro Stock Motorcycle up-and-comer Jianna Evaristo powered her Pep Boys/Scrappers Racing Suzuki to an exciting quarterfinal finish today at the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
The talented young racer harnessed the power of her Matt Smith-tuned machine for consistent runs throughout the weekend, qualifying in the No. 14 position with an impressive run of 6.924-seconds at 195.17 mph, the fastest speed of her career. In the first round of eliminations, she rolled up against four-time Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion Eddie Krawiec. Her determination and drive paid off as she took her slight starting line advantage straight down the track to turn on the win light against Krawiec. Facing veteran rider Jerry Savoie in the quarterfinals, Evaristo left just six-thousandths of a second too soon, turning on the red bulb and giving the round win to Savoie.
“The whole weekend has been really really good,” said Evaristo. “I think I’ve made some of the best passes this weekend that I’ve ever made. I’ve really been focused on qualifying, so today, for the first round, I just wanted to race my race and I would be happy with whatever happened. Because I’m still so new at this, anytime I get to race, in general, is a good day for me, let alone getting a round win. My Pep Boys Suzuki made really consistent runs not just in qualifying but also in eliminations. I feel really comfortable on this bike and I’m enjoying it.”
In the quickest Top Fuel field in the history of the sport, Mike Salinas also powered to a quarterfinal finish in his Pep Boys/Scrappers Racing Top Fuel dragster. His pass of 3.701 at 331.36 set him in the No. 4 qualifying position for race day. The driver and team owner defeated eight-time NHRA Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher in the first round of competition at Indianapolis Raceway Park. In the second round, he faced Top Fuel standout Doug Kalitta. M. Salinas has 12 wins against Kalitta, the most for him against any opponent. Unfortunately, a parts failure led to an early shutdown for M. Salinas, giving Kalitta the win.
Earlier in the weekend, M. Salinas was called out by points leader Brittany Force to compete against each other in the semifinals of the inaugural Pep Boys All-Star Call Out. Force bested M. Salinas and met Steve Torrence in the final round where Torrence emerged victorious.
Always a father and family man first, M. Salinas reflected on the performance of his two daughters. “We had a great weekend. I got to see my girls do some really amazing things. Jianna got her first round win on that new bike. We had a parts failure on our car but we’ll lick our wounds and move on. I think we’re still going into the countdown with a good position. We are prepping for it right now and getting ready. We’re going to have a great time. Our family is all here, so we’re good.”
Top Alcohol Dragster standout Jasmine Salinas faced some unusual challenges this week on the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series side of the competition. Coming off of a win and runner-up earned in the same weekend, J. Salinas was excited to come to the Big Go. She put on a consistent performance in qualifying as she prepared to participate in her first JEGS Allstars competition. Unfortunately, her Pep Boys/Scrappers Racing Top Alcohol Dragster sustained a parts malfunction after her burnout in the first round of the sportsman race-within-a-race and she was not able to get off the starting line. The impassioned driver was visibly frustrated as she had to concede the round to Karen Stalba.
“There was a lot that happened this weekend but that’s to be expected at the Big Go,” said J. Salinas. “We were really excited and had worked really hard to get into the JEGS Allstars. The first round didn’t go the way we wanted. We had some issues with the car which prevented us from making the run down the track but I will always take missing out on one race versus missing out on the rest of the season. We did learn a lot about the car even though we were only able to make two runs down the track. So I think we’re feeling pretty confident as we go into Maple Grove.”
Scrappers Racing is excited to head to Reading, Penn. for the Pep Boys NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, September 15-18.