Lucas Oil's Arana Jr. wins second in a row, closes in on points lead
PHOENIX (Oct. 16) – The pressure was definitely on in Sunday's finals of the Arizona NHRA Nationals at Firebird International Raceway. But Lucas Oil Buell rider Hector Arana Jr. is proving he's up to the task.
Arana Jr., the No. 1 qualifier, faced Pro Stock Motorcycle points leader Eddie Krawiec in the finals in what could be a pivotal moment in the 2011 championship. Krawiec came into the event with a 35-point lead and could have put some distance between he and Arana Jr.
But Arana Jr. had a perfect reaction time and out-ran Krawiec with a pass of 6.884 seconds at 194.30 mph to win his third national event of the season and second in a row. Arana Jr. now trails Krawiec by 10 points with two races remaining in the season.
"That was huge," Arana Jr. said. "You're talking about a 40-point swing in the points right there. If he had won we would have been in trouble. Now we're 10 points apart. It's anybody's game at this point."
Arana Jr. has had a splendid rookie year, winning three races and qualifying No. 1 six times. He's also won three of the last five races and reached the finals in five of the last six.
"My dad, my brother Adam and Dan (Gonzales) worked their butts off for me and we're all clicking so well together," Arana Jr. said. "This Lucas Oil Buell is an absolute rocket and I couldn't be happier.
"I'm living a dream. This is amazing. I couldn't have imagined this."
In the finals against Krawiec, Arana Jr. had a perfect reaction time of .000 seconds, getting an instant advantage.
"That was cutting it close in the final but I knew I was just so amped up," Arana Jr. said. "I knew how big that single round was; definitely the biggest round of my rookie year. There's probably going to be a few more of those before we're done."
Arana Jr. put more pressure on Vincent Nobile in the battle for the Auto Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award that honors the NHRA's top rookie. Making things more interesting is Arana Jr. is dating Nobile's older sister, Nicole.
"It makes it a really tough battle for me and Vincent," Arana Jr. said. "I've seen where there has been a tie before, and I don't see why it wouldn't be a tie. We're both deserving. It's not about the money. It's about the reward."