Lucas Oil Racing press release
Arana Jr. pads his rookie-of-the-year resume with runner-up result to lead Team Lucas
ENNIS, Texas (Sept. 25) – Lucas Oil Buell rider Hector Arana Jr. moved to third in the Pro Stock Motorcycle championship points standings by reaching the final round Sunday of the AAA of Texas NHRA Nationals at Texas Motorplex.
His Lucas Oil teammate and father, Hector Arana Sr., suffered a disappointing loss when another mechanical gremlin left him out of power at the starting line in the first round.
Lucas Oil Ford Mustang driver Larry Morgan scored an upset in the first round of Pro Stock but then fell in the second round to Kurt Johnson.
Arana Jr. reached his third final in the last four races in a second-half surge that has given him his first career victory and put him in contention not only for the Pro Stock Motorcycle championship but also the Auto Club Road to the Future Award to the top rookie in NHRA.
The No. 1 qualifier in Dallas, Arana Jr. beat Jim Underdahl in the first round with a pass of 6.902 seconds at 194.77 mph. He then knocked out defending PSM champion L.E. Tonglet in Round 2, going 7.005 seconds at 192.06 mph.
Arana Jr. advanced to the finals after Matt Smith's bike wouldn't fire in the semifinals. In the finals, Arana Jr. left first on Michael Phillips (.012 seconds to .027) and ran 7.010 seconds at 192.30 mph to Phillips' 6.979 seconds at 194.46 mph.
"We ran a 7-flat, and that was the same as we ran in the second round," Arana Jr. said. "I was kind of off a little bit. I revved it up early, but it didn't throw off my reaction time. I still had a .012 light, which is pretty good. I got a little ahead of myself in the shifting. I don't know how much that affected the bike or if that's what cost me the won or not.
"But we made it to the finals and got some points we needed. That's what's important."
Arana Jr. climbed two positions in the standings with a hard-fought race in Dallas.
"They were all tough," Arana Jr. said. "Every one of these bikes have a chance of winning. I had to be on my A-game at all times. They were all pretty close races."
He had an especially close race against Tonglet, as the margin of victory was 0.0003 seconds, or about one inch.
"I didn't know I had won," Arana Jr. said. "I had to ask, 'Did I win?' I thought I might have, but it was that close. I was looking at L.E., and I didn't see him celebrating. I knew he was right there."
Arana Sr. suffered from mechanical gremlins for his second consecutive race. He had qualified No. 3 and posted the fastest elapsed time in the final qualifying session in Dallas.
But in the first round against Phillips, Arana's bike revved up and then cut off just as he was about to stage.
"We downloaded all the information," Arana Sr. said. "I've not really looked at it. I'm not really going to think about it right now. Hopefully we can get home on time, so we'll have a day to look at everything, look at the data and see what happened."
Both Lucas Oil bikes usually carry a "Gremlin Bell" designed to ward off bad luck, but Arana Sr.'s didn't have it Sunday.
"We'll definitely have one by Reading," Arana Sr. said. "We should've had it on today.
"This year has been a lot of low moments and some high ones. But there might be something there to learn."
Morgan knocked off No. 3 qualifier Mike Edwards in the first round of Pro Stock, winning on a holeshot after cutting a .044-second light to Edwards' .081. Morgan ran 6.643 seconds at 208.49 mph to Edwards' 6.621 at 209.65 as the Lucas Oil Mustang knocked out a Countdown driver.
In the second round, Morgan and Johnson had nearly identical reaction times, though Johnson won with a pass of 6.654 seconds at 208.20 mph to Morgan's 6.665 at 207.46 mph.
"It sure was nice to beat Mike Edwards," Morgan said. "It would've been nicer to beat a couple more guys today, but we had a good weekend. I'm happy with that."