NHRA: Jianna Salinas’ wild ride/crash will make her a better rider, says defending champ Matt Smith

0 Comments

Jianna Salinas’ father, Mike Salinas, races for Scrappers Racing in NHRA Top Fuel competition.

That San Jose, California-based team’s name is also the perfect description of Jianna Salinas’ bounce back from a terrifying run in Pro Stock Motorcycle during eliminations Sunday in the NHRA Route 66 Nationals in Joliet, Illinois.

Jianna, a 22-year-old rookie rider on the NHRA national event circuit, was indeed a scrapper after she fell off her bike, the bike crashed, bounced over her, hit the wall – and after a few moments of lying motionless, she got up under her own power and emerged from the incident with only minor bruises.

Jianna Salinas. Photo: NHRA.

The younger Salinas was reportedly doing over 130 mph when her bike went down.

“I’m doing great,” she said about an hour after her wreck. She even went back on-track to watch the next round of bike eliminations.

“You fall down, you get right back up and you learn from it, that’s all you can do,” Salinas said. “They were amazing, honestly everybody, the NHRA, Safety Safari, they came up to me super-fast.

“I was trying to out-run them (so she could get to her wounded two-wheeler), but they wouldn’t let me go. They were great.”

Salinas was racing Hector Arana Jr. in Sunday’s quarterfinals and jumped out to an early lead before her bike began drifting toward the centerline. She struck two timing blocks on the centerline, which is an automatic disqualification, and then her bike shot to the right and the outside retaining wall.

Salinas and the bike went down just before reaching the wall. While the bike made contact with the concrete wall, Salinas did not, fortunately. She went to the track medical center, was checked out and released.

2018 NHRA PSM champion and Sunday’s winning rider, Matt Smith, spoke with NBC Sports after the race and was asked about Salinas’ mishap.

Here’s what he had to say:

Matt Smith. Photo: NHRA

“I hate to see anybody wreck, especially in our class or any class for that fact. I’m just glad she bounced back up and wasn’t hurt.

“It’s part of a learning curve of new people coming in, especially when they get out of control like they do. They probably haven’t told her yet when she gets out of control to shut the bike off.

“Now, she might have found that limit and will be more conscious the next time, ‘I’m in that situation, I just better let off and save it for another day’ because there’s always a next race. That’s our motto. … I’m just glad (Salinas is) okay.”

Smith added that while he’s never crashed a bike, he came close in his own rookie season, and it was a very valuable learning experience that has stuck with him ever since.

“I’ve never come off the bike, I hit the wall one time, but I never physically come off the motorcycle,” Smith told NBC Sports. “I did that when I first got into my career, my first year I hit the wall.

These things are animals and they will hurt you.

“And I learned right then, look, these things are animals and they will hurt you. It’s good that she got away from the bike. We’ve got all the leather suits and all the safety gear. Most times, if you get away from the bike, you’re going to be fine. It’ll tear the motorcycle up and you’ll get a little bit of road rash. The person can come back the next race. I don’t know if the bike will be ready for the next race, but she’s fine and that’s the main thing, that she’s okay.

“I spoke to (Salinas) in the staging lanes and asked if she was good, she said yes. She’ll probably be a little sore (Monday) but hopefully she’ll be back at Norwalk (Ohio, the next race bikes compete in, June 20-23).

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Eli Tomac wins Houston Supercross: Hunter Lawrence takes early 250 East lead

0 Comments

With his 47th career victory and third of the 2023 season in Houston, Eli Tomac closed to within one win of tying Ricky Carmichael for third on the all-time Monster Energy Supercross list.

Tomac rebounded from last week’s crash by earning the holeshot in both his heat and the Main. At the start of the big show, he couldn’t shake Aaron Plessinger in the first four minutes and actually was in the process of losing the lead as a red flag waved for a crash involving Tomac’s teammate Dylan Ferrandis when he overjumped an obstacle and landed on Ken Roczen’s back fender as they raced for eighth.

“That was a tough race,” Tomac told NBC Sports’ Will Christien, referencing his loss to Chase Sexton in the heat. “And honestly, I was just beat down after that heat race and was searching quite a bit and was basically losing speed everywhere. I just rode better, straight up in the Main. I felt better.”

In their heat, Sexton passed Tomac at the two-minute mark and then simply rode away from the field. At the end, he had an almost eight-second gap on Tomac.

“It wasn’t great by any means,” Sexton told Jason Thomas. “I feel like the strengths I had all day, I really lagged in the Main event between the whoop and the sand section. I think I could have walked through it faster. It was still a good ride; it wasn’t great. I expected after the heat race he would be fired up.”

RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Anaheim 2

Jason Anderson scored his second consecutive pole, but he was not happy to finish third behind the two points’ leaders.

“We should be thankful every time we get to be up here,” Anderson said. “They’re making it tough on me, but all I can do is give my best.”

Tomac had to withstand a red flag and the distant second place finish in his heat to win the Houston Supercross race. In the post-race conference, he indicated that he did not make any changes to the bike and simply rode better.

Aaron Plessinger and Cooper Webb rounded out the top five.

Ferrandis was fitted with a neck brace, but still able to walk to the medical cart. He was still being evaluated by the medical staff as the night came to a close.


In 250s Hunter Lawrence entered the 250 East opener as the consensus favorite to win the championship this year with Christian Craig making the move into 450s and his brother Jett Lawrence in the West division. He answered quickly with a huge lead in Heat 1, but it almost went awry in the Main.

Lawrence got a good start, but he was passed early in the race by two-time MXGP champion (2020, 2022) Tom Vialle, who was making his Supercross debut this week. Vialle passed Lawrence on the first lap. When Lawrence tried to pass him back, Vialle scrubbed speed off a jump and pushed Lawrence wide, over the Tuff Blox.

Championships are made out of Lawrence’s response. He kept his composure and did not overcorrect before methodically working his way to the front.

“We had a little off track excursion. I wasn’t sure how hard across Tom was coming so I thought I’ll just go left, but then saw that was the side of the track. Thankfully I didn’t hit the Tuff Blox and got back on track safely. … Good start; put myself in position.”

Click here for full 250 East Main Results

Making a move from the 450 class to 250s, Max Anstie had immediate success. He finished second in his heat behind Jordon Smith and lined up with a great gate pick. He had to overtake Vialle in the opening laps and lost ground on Lawrence, that cost enough time to keep him from pressing Lawrence. This is Anstie’s first podium in the United States

“Honestly, I’ve dreamed of this for a long time to come up on these steps and man it’s a great feeling. I’ve really enjoyed the day and being on this 250, I feel like an 18-year-old kid. Everyday I’m learning.”

Smith backed up his heat win with a podium finish.

“It feels good to be back up here again,” Smith said. “It’s been a long time; a lot of injuries.”

Haiden Deegan proved the hype surrounding his debut in the 250 class was not unfounded. He finished fourth in his heat to advance to directly into the Main. During the early laps, he was circling the track in a podium position until a minor mistake sent him off the box. In the closing laps, he narrowly made an aggressive pass on Jeremy Martin and narrowly missed the podium with a fourth-place finish.

Martin held on to round out the top five.

Vialle was running in a podium position when went down with a 1:30 left on the clock. He ended his night seventh.

Chance Hymas was also making his 250 debut and scored a top-10 in eighth.

2023 Race Recaps

Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time

Houston coverage

Houston by the numbers
Supercross unveils 16th edition of a Ricky Carmichael designed Daytona track
Power Rankings after week 3
Malcom Stewart out for “extended duration” after knee surgery
Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
Talon Hawkins set to relieve injured Jalek Swoll in Houston
Jalek Swoll out for an indefinite period with broken arm
Ken Roczen urgently needed a change
Chris Blose joins Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 250 East opener
Seth Hammaker to miss Houston with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list