Don Schumacher Racing press release
Fresh off Indy win, Arana Jr. wants more
CHARLOTTE (Sept. 12) – Lucas Oil Buell rider Hector Arana Jr. is riding high after his first NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle victory, earned on Labor Day weekend at the biggest race of the year, the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.
So what can he do for an encore?
"Win another one," Arana Jr. said without hesitation.
Arana Jr. gets that chance in this weekend's O'Reilly Auto Parts Nationals, a race that also marks the start of the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA's six-race, 10-driver playoffs. Arana Jr. hopes to be a player in the Countdown, too.
"I'm only 60 points out from first place since they reset the points, and that's just three rounds," Arana Jr. said. "We've got six races, and I plan to win six more races. We're definitely contenders for the championship now that I've found a way to win. We got to the finals in Brainerd and did it again in Indy – and won the race. We watched the weather, and we picked up. We've got to keep doing that."
Arana Jr. and the Lucas Oil team don't plan on changing strategy for Charlotte or for the Countdown.
"As long as we make good passes and stay on top of our tune-ups, I think we have the motor to do it," Arana Jr. said. "All we're doing is staying on top of the motor. We went over the whole thing, checked everything to make sure it all looks good. That way, we don't have to worry about it breaking. We put a new crank in it and refreshed it all, so it should be even faster."
The 22-year-old rookie has come on strong in the last several races, qualifying No. 1 three times and reaching the finals twice. He moved up to fifth in the Pro Stock Motorcycle points standings and should be a threat for the 2011 title.
Winning the U.S. Nationals was clearly the highlight of the season for Arana Jr., even if there was no time to celebrate.
"We didn't get to party too much," Arana Jr. said. "We drove home that night and got home about 1:30, 2 o'clock in the morning. We went to sleep, got up and I went to school the next day, and then went to work. There was no more celebrating."
Still, Arana Jr. relishes the pewter Wally trophy he won as U.S. Nationals champion. And he appreciates the well-wishes he's received since winning Indy.
"People are still calling," Arana Jr. said. "I've gotten lots of friend requests on Facebook, lots of people posting, saying, 'Congratulations.' It's really cool to see all the fans.
"Hopefully I can give them another one this weekend."
The fourth annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals begin with two rounds of qualifying at 4 and 6:30 p.m. on Friday.