ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (May 30) – The great Satchel Page once said, "Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you." Lucas Oil Buell rider Hector Arana Sr. certainly heeds that sage advice.
A year ago at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, site of this weekend's 43rd annual Toyota NHRA SuperNationals, Arana fell in the first round after qualifying a lofty No. 4. And in the most recent Pro Stock Motorcycle race in Atlanta, Arana Sr. lost in the semifinals after qualifying No. 1.
Both were stinging upsets, but Arana Sr. is only looking ahead.
"What we've done in the past, last year, the last race, we've got to forget all that," Arana Sr. said. "My focus is on this track, this race, and what I can do to try to perfect myself and stay focused. We need to win; I need to win."
Arana Sr. hopes to win for the first time since 2009, and he certainly has a motorcycle capable of getting it done. He leads the class with two No. 1 qualifiers and stands fourth in the points despite misfortune that has kept him out of the victory circle.
In Atlanta, Arana Sr. looked to have the bike to beat, performing well in all four qualifying sessions and then posting the quickest run of the weekend in the second round of eliminations. But in the semifinals, the Lucas Oil Buell drifted out of its lane, lost traction, and Arana couldn't catch opponent Michael Ray.
"I've got to study it and learn from it, and after that, there's nothing else I can do," Arana Sr. said. "I've got to try not to make the same mistakes. That's my focus point. I need to focus and go forward. I believe we have an excellent machine that's running great. Now, if I can just stay focused, we should do well."
Arana Sr. originally wondered if the engine in his Buell might have had a problem, but "Forrest" – named for Lucas Oil founder Forrest Lucas – is fine.
"Forrest is mean," Arana Sr. said. "The motor, not my sponsor. He's coming on strong, just like the real Forrest runs his company. We've got to hit the mark, and we've got to win."