Jianna Salinas navigated through some of the toughest matchups on race day to claim her first career win at the NHRA Auto Club Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. She defeated three former World Champions in Andrew Hines, Matt Smith, and Jerry Savoie, and a seasoned rider in Steve Johnson. Salinas joins the small group of women who have won in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class, becoming just the fifth woman to do so. She is also the first Latina to claim the coveted Wally in a professional category.
The 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Championship Series season wrapped up on Sunday which also marked the end of Jianna’s rookie season. She came into the weekend facing a field of 17 other competitors all looking to qualify for the last event of the year. She had a couple unfortunate mechanical errors during Friday’s qualifying sessions which added more urgency to Saturday’s qualifying rounds. Salinas made improvement in session three but was still 0.001 seconds short of the 16th spot. In session four she screamed down the track with a 6.972 at 186.74, a career best elapsed time, to secure the 13th position for race day.
“On Saturday I was just fighting to qualify. Coming into today I just thought what ever happens, happens and I get to end my season on a high note,” Salinas commented while reflecting on the events of the past 24 hours.
This season hasn’t been the easiest for the young rider. She faced adversity almost every weekend, from mechanical failures to missing the field at some events. She was able to capitalize on making the final field of 2019 and cap off the rookie year with the accomplishment every racer dreams about.
”To struggle as much as I did this season and come back from the crash, I’m just happy to be able to qualify out here,” expressed Salinas.
The rookie rider credits her crew, Gary Stoffer and Greg Underdahl, her mentor Karen Stoffer, her family, and sponsor True Disruption with this win.
“They have all supported me through this whole process and I am just so blessed,” Jianna shared while fighting back tears of joy.
This win marks the 152nd win for women in the sport of drag racing and makes Jianna Salinas the 18th woman to contribute to these collective victories.