Drag Illustrated Issue 173, December 2021 - Page 40

Dirt

Melanie Salemi Scores $ 50,000 Pro Mod Win at 50th Annual Snowbird Outlaw Nationals

By Nate Van Wagnen

A field of 50 Pro Mod drivers entered qualifying on Friday at the 50th annual Snowbird Outlaw Nationals presented by Motion Raceworks , and after five rounds of eliminations on Sunday , Melanie Salemi was left standing as the $ 50,000 winner of the Bradenton Motorsports Park event . In the final round , Salemi recorded a 3.65-second pass at 206.83 mph to defeat Ken Quartuccio and his 3.692 at 198.12 .

“ This just solidifies the fact that our hard work pays off and we are still really good at what we do , regardless of what our season may have looked like to some people ,” Salemi said . “ There ’ s been a lot of ups and downs this season , and it ’ s always awesome to finish off on a high note like this .”
Salemi went into the weekend driving Eddie Whelan ’ s screw-blown Al-Lee Installations “ Sidepiece ” ’ 19 Camaro after driving the roots-blown “ Purple Reign ” ’ 68 Firebird for the last half of the season . Salemi and her team , led by her husband , Jon , and brother-in-law Jim , tested well during the week , which led to some frustration when they qualified No . 17 in the 32-car M & M Transmission Outlaw Pro Mod presented by Carmack Engineering field .
“ Not that we did bad [ in qualifying ], but we had tested fairly well and we wanted to go faster because other cars were going faster ,” Salemi said . “ Jon was a little angry at himself , but I had to have a little heart to heart with him and say , ‘ Listen , we came here to win a race , not to win qualifying . It doesn ’ t matter . As long as we qualified , we can win . We can win from anywhere on the sheet . Just relax a little bit and it is what it is . There ’ s
no changing where we qualified , but on race day , that ’ s where we can show what we have .’”
Salemi paired up with two-time and defending PDRA Pro Nitrous world champion Jim Halsey in the opening round , using a 3.667 to knock out Halsey ’ s 3.704 . Another heavy hitter , PDRA Pro Boost championship runner-up and No . 1 qualifier Daniel Pharris , was waiting for Salemi in the second round . Salemi left the starting line first and held on with a 3.693 at 205.66 to finish ahead of Pharris and his 3.722 .
“ Everybody here had a chance to win ,” Salemi said . “ There was not one person in that 32-car field that didn ’ t have a shot to win . Every round was the same as the one before . Daniel Pharris , when I had him second round , I got a little bit lucky on that one . He broke and that was maybe
my luck turning around . We ’ re all just as good as one another . If you let somebody ’ s success in the past get in your head , I think you ’ ve lost already .”
Salemi combined another consistent , quick reaction time and a 3.686 at 205.13 to beat Kurt Steding ’ s 3.649 on a holeshot in the third round .
“ Those [ holeshot wins ] are always the best ,” Salemi said . “ Honestly , they make your team feel confident about you also . I ’ ve had some issues in this car with cutting lights . I think we ’ ve got it figured out . There ’ s a few things I ’ d like to work on . But I know Kurt can be really good on the tree . He ’ s beaten me on a holeshot before . I knew that was definitely one of the rounds that I needed to be up on the wheel .”
Confidence continued to build in the Salemi camp going into the semifinals , where Salemi
PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHRIS SEARS
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