Lucas Oil's Hector Arana Jr. No. 1 in Keystone State
READING, Pa. (Oct. 1) – Lucas Oil Buell rider Hector Arana Jr. continued his late-season surge by grabbing the No. 1 qualifying spot Saturday for the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.
The pole was the fifth of the season and the second in a row for the 22-year-old rookie. Arana Jr. has also reached the finals in three of the last four Pro Stock Motorcycle races, winning his first career race at the U.S. Nationals.
Arana Jr. went 6.824 seconds at 195.48 mph to take the No. 1 qualifier in Reading. He also was No. 1 qualifier in Dallas last weekend before going to the final round.
"In the beginning, my No. 1 qualifiers were ending shortly on race day," Arana Jr. said. "But as you saw in Dallas, I went to the finals, had a good reaction time and rode well. We just had an issue with the motor. This weekend, we're going to try to make it happen and seal the deal."
In the finals in Dallas, Arana Jr.'s bike had a mysterious electrical problem that caused him to slow down.
"After Dallas, when we got back to the shop, we found there was a cam sensor that was going bad," Arana Jr. said. "That was throwing our timing off, which is the reason why we slowed down in the finals.
"In Q2, when I almost went over the handlebars, that's what happened again. It completely lost signal, and the motor shut off. We took it to Larry Morgan's pit, and we welded it up. It'll no longer come loose. We've got that problem fixed."
All of Arana Jr.'s No. 1 qualifiers have come with the engine "Gracie," named after his mom, Grace.
"I've been rubbing my four-leaf clover that I've had on my bike since I've been qualifying No. 1," Arana Jr. said. "A friend of mine gave to me when we were at Larry Morgan's shop finishing 'Gracie.' It's a coincidence. It's a lucky motor, I guess."
Arana Jr. faces No. 16 qualifier Bailey Whitaker, who had a best lap of 6.946 seconds at 191.24 mph, in the first round of eliminations Sunday. Arana Jr. is third in the Countdown to the Championship, 90 points out of the lead but only 17 behind second-place Karen Stoffer.