SONOMA, Calif. (July 28) - The Lucas Oil Buell team of Hector Arana Sr. and Hector Arana Jr. are doing all they can to win an NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Pro Stock Motorcycle race.
And they're having some fun doing it. While Arana Jr. qualified No. 3 and Arana Sr. No. 4 for the NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sears Point Raceway, they garnered more attention for what happened off the track.
First, they offered sand bags - ostensibly used by the Harley-Davidson team - for sale at their pit area. And Saturday, crew members Adam Arana, Dan Gonzalez and Charles Gordon showed up for the morning qualifying session dressed as peasants.
At last week's race in Denver, rival Eddie Krawiec referred to himself as Achilles, the Greek hero who slayed Hector.
So the Aranas ran with it.
"We're just trying to have fun," Arana Sr. said. "We're not trying to be disrespectful. We just want to have fun. He did make a statement, so we're going to run with it. To me, those words hurt: 'He killed the Hectors.'
"Hey, those are words for me that are going to make me work harder. I can't wait until I put them down."
To Arana Jr., there was some truth to Krawiec's words. He feels the Buells have an unfair disadvantage to the Harleys based on current NHRA rules.
"It was very true what he said: Their equipment that they're using is far superior to ours, like gods," Arana Jr. said. "They get to go run by run and not have to work on the bikes. Every two runs, we're pulling valve covers off and doing all kinds of work in order to maintain these motors. We only get so many runs out of them. We're pushing them to the limit, and we're working hard from the very beginning of the track - 60 foots - to all the way down. We're working like peasants."
Their work has resulted in a solid season for both, as Arana Jr. clinched a spot in the Countdown to the Championship by qualifying for this race, and Arana Sr. can lock up a spot by advancing to the semifinals Sunday. Still, they are looking for their first victories of the season. Could it happen Sunday?
"We can win the race," Arana Jr. said. "I always go in thinking I'm going to win the race. That doesn't change, no matter what."
Arana Jr. got the No. 3 qualifier with a pass of 6.850 seconds at 191.73 mph, putting him against No. 14 qualifier Katie Sullivan (6.997 at 190.92 mph) in the first round of eliminations.
"We finally stumbled upon our clutch tuneup. We had two back-to-back .103 (60-foot times), so we're really happy to stumble on that at the right time. Hopefully tomorrow, we can stay consistent doing that and be ready to go."
Arana Jr. is third in the Pro Stock Motorcycle points standings, reaching two finals, four semifinals and qualifying in the top three in all seven races this year. The reigning Auto Club Road to the Future Award winner is looking for more after wrapping up a spot in NHRA's playoffs.
"It's really awesome," Arana Jr. said. "Last year, I wasn't locked in to Indy. To be able to be in before Indy, it's a big relief off my shoulders. Maybe we can try something to get ready for Indy and beyond."
Arana Sr. qualified No. 4 with a lap of 6.879 seconds at 195.86 mph. That ended a streak of six consecutive races qualifying first or second - including three poles - but he's still qualified fourth or better in every race.
He'll face No. 13 Steve Johnson (6.995 at 192.38 mph) in Sunday's first round.
"I'm already set," Arana Sr. said. "We're going for everything. Qualifying, I struggled a little bit because we were giving it all. We were trying to get really aggressive on the starting line to see if it could take it. But it seems like the track is a little bit deceiving. It feels good, but the bike doesn't like it. I'm going to have to back it up a notch, and at least I know what not to do tomorrow.
"Overall, I'm pleased. We didn't get those extra qualifying points, but we were trying things because we want to beat them."
Source: Lucas Racing