If you’re placing bets on this year’s NHRA Top Fuel championship, you may wise to consider Californian Mike Salinas.
In one of the worst-kept secrets of the offseason, champion crew chief Brian Husen made public this week in a report on NHRA.com that he has parted ways with John Force Racing — where he tuned Brittany Force to the 2017 Mello Yello Series crown — to turn the screws on the Salinas-owned and driven Scrappers Racing dragster in 2019. Alan Johnson, with whom Husen has worked in tandem for the last decade and a half, will serve as tuning advisor.
“They decided to take a different direction at JFR, which I understand, “Husen shares. “They have to make the decisions that they make, and so the opportunity became available with Mike Salinas to come over here and work. I started talking to Mike and seeing the direction that he wanted to go, a lot of the guys from Brittany’s team showed interest, so we knew we had a good group of people. The best case for us was to stick together and try to build on what we had. We did it a few years ago with Brittany and we were successful doing it that way. It’s not that normal low-key winter for us — we have our plate full with work we’ve got to do.”
In addition to the 2017 title, Husen played a major role in championships in 2011 and 2013 with Del Worsham and Shawn Langdon, respectively. Johnson, for his part, owns 16 NHRA championships as a crew chief, team owner, and advisor. The next line on their impressive resumes could well written by Salinas and his independently-run team in 2019.
“Mike’s a great driver and we have the championship team from Brittany’s team. We have all the right parts, so it’s just going to come down to decision-making on Alan and I’s part and Mike doing a good job driving and all these guys doing a great job like they’ve always done,” Husen adds.
Salinas, who went on the road to campaign the full 24-race tour for the first time a season ago, qualified for the Countdown to the Championship and closed out the year seventh in the standings on the heels of four semifinal appearances and a final round showing at Bristol, along with a season-high number one qualifier award at the prestigious U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis.