ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (May 30) – Nothing gives Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Hector Arana Jr. more of a thrill than speeding down a drag strip on his Lucas Oil Buell.
So being able to race it only three times in the first five months of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series has been somewhat frustrating for the reigning Rookie of the Year. But that's the been the experience of Arana Jr. and the rest of the bike class. There have been eight NHRA national events, but only three including the Pro Stock Motorcycle class.
So naturally, Arana Jr. makes a welcome return to action at this weekend's 43rd annual Toyota NHRA SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, the first race in nearly a month for the Pro Stock Motorcycle class.
"What's crazy is that after this race, we have another month off," Arana Jr. said. "Then the season starts to roll. The breaks are nice in a way, because we have time to work on the engines and find more horsepower. But in another way, it's like, 'Come on already. Let's get going.'
"You like to get into the groove of things. You start to get your riding consistent. But when you have a month off and you don't ride, and then you get back on, you feel rusty."
Arana Jr. hasn't shown any effects of the long layovers between races, as he's third in the points standings in the class, with one final-round appearance and one semifinal appearance to go along with qualifying No. 2 twice and No. 3 once.
Last year, in the midst of a rookie season that earned him the Auto Club Road to the Future award as the top first-year competitor, Arana Jr. lost in the first round at Englishtown. But he's hoping to last a little longer this weekend.
"Englishtown is going to be good," Arana Jr. said. "The weather is going to be tricky, because it's going to be cool. It's close to sea level there, but we're going to have high humidity. But we should still be pretty quick. I'm looking forward to doing pretty well there.
"There are lots of friends there, lots of Hispanic fans rooting us on. It should be a good time."
After winning three times in 2011, Arana Jr. is anxious for his first victory this season. But he knows it won't be easy.
"It's motivating," Arana Jr. said. "I want to get that win. But I'm not worried about it. I know it's coming. I feel good, especially after Houston. I did a good job riding, and my lights were consistent. In qualifying in Atlanta, I was consistent, too, and we just had an electrical issue (in eliminations) that cost me the win.
"Hopefully, we've got all that out of the way. For the rest of the year, everything will go smoothly."