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


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).

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IndyCar releases schedule for 2023 season

IndyCar schedule 2023
Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NTT IndyCar Series’ 2023 schedule will feature the same number of races and tracks as this season with some minor reshuffling of dates.

IndyCar will open the 2023 season March 5 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, and will conclude Sept. 10 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. The 107th Indy 500 will take place May 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 17-race schedule will conclude with a stretch of eight races in the final nine weeks.

“The NTT IndyCar Series is on an impactful upward trajectory, making progress at a pace that befits our thrilling style of competition,” Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “The 2023 season provides an opportunity to further build on this trend, bringing our sport and its stars to more markets and households and reaching new consumers across the globe.”

There will be 15 events on NBC: 13 races (including six of the final seven) plus Indy 500 qualifying May 20-21. There also are three races on USA Network and the Toronto race exclusively on Peacock. All races on NBC and USA also will have live simulstreams on Peacock.

In partnership with NBC Sports, the 2022 IndyCar season was the most-watched in six years and the most-watched across NBC Sports on record. The 2022 season also was the most streamed season on record.

“We’re very excited for our 2023 NTT IndyCar Series schedule and to build on this past season’s viewership milestones,” NBC Sports vice president of programming Mike Perman said in a release. “In providing comprehensive coverage across NBC, Peacock and USA Network, NBC Sports is once again looking forward to telling the stories of these world-class drivers and this compelling series.”

Notable elements on the 2023 schedule:

–There will be the same balance of seven road course races, five street courses and five ovals.

–St. Pete will be the season opener for the 13th time.

–The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix will move from Belle Isle to the streets of downtown.

–The NASCAR doubleheader weekend at the IMS road course will shift to mid-August.

–The World Wide Technology Raceway event will move from Saturday to Sunday.

Start times for the 2023 events will be announced at a later date.

Here’s the 2023 IndyCar schedule:

Date Race/Track Network/Platform
Sun., March 5 Streets of St. Petersburg NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 2 Texas Motor Speedway NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 16 Streets of Long Beach NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 30 Barber Motorsports Park NBC, Peacock
Sat., May 13 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) NBC, Peacock
Sun., May 28 The 107th Indianapolis 500 NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 4 Streets of Detroit NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 18 Road America USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 2 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 16 Streets of Toronto Peacock
Sat., July 22 Iowa Speedway – Race 1 NBC, Peacock
Sun., July 23 Iowa Speedway – Race 2 NBC, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 6 Streets of Nashville NBC, Peacock
Sat., Aug. 12 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) USA Network, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 27 World Wide Technology Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 3 Portland International Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 10 WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca NBC, Peacock

*dates and networks/platforms are subject to change