By Lucas Oil Racing
Rookie Arana Jr. earns top qualifying berth in Norwalk to lead Lucas Oil racers
Lucas Oil Buell rookie rider Hector Arana Jr. earned the first No. 1 qualifier of his brief career Saturday to top a banner day for Lucas Oil vehicles at the fifth annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals.
In addition to Arana Jr.'s No. 1 qualifying effort, his father, Lucas Oil Buell rider Hector Arana Sr., qualified seventh in the same class, while Lucas Oil Ford Mustang driver Larry Morgan qualified seventh in Pro Stock.
Arana Jr., 22, earned his first PSM pole in only his fourth career race in what is becoming an impressive rookie season.
"I've got to thank Forrest and Charlotte Lucas and the whole Lucas family or giving me this opportunity," Arana Jr. said. "It was Forrest who called me into his office and said he wanted me to race with my dad. And thanks to my father, because if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be in that position. It's an amazing feeling to be No. 1."
Arana Jr. grabbed the No. 1 spot with a track-record elapsed time of 6.887 seconds at 191.59 mph. His best previous qualifying spot was fifth at Atlanta Dragway.
"It means the world to us," Arana Jr. said. "We struggled the first couple of races of the season, and as you could see, we've got our stuff together since. This weekend, I have a brand-new motor in my bike, and that was the first pass down the track when I ran an .88. Her name is Gracie after my mother. She's doing well so far."
Arana Sr. is doing well, too, moving to the top half of the field in the final PSM qualifying session. Friday's activities were rained out, meaning the pro categories only got two rounds of qualifying. Arana Sr.'s bike wouldn't change into fifth gear in his first run, and he needed a solid pass in the second run to make the elimination field.
"Anything can happen out here," Arana Sr. said. "I was on a good run this morning but the bike wouldn't shift into fifth gear, high gear. We couldn't really find anything wrong, but we replaced all the parts. Anything that I thought could be a problem, I replaced it.
"We had one more run left, and you always wonder. The temperature was rising, the humidity – I could feel the humidity. All I thought was, 'If I make a good run and shift through all the gears, I should be OK.'
"So I'm counting the gears, and it shifted through all of them, so I was happy."
Arana Sr. was also beaming about his son.
"He's doing an excellent job," Arana Sr. said. "He's learning too quick. Wow. I'll just have to work hard on my stuff to keep up with him."
Morgan and his Lucas Oil Pro Stock team have been working hard lately, and earned some dividends from that hard work Saturday. Morgan made two solid passes and posted his best qualifying run of the season.
The native Ohioan went 6.616 at 208.23 mph in Saturday's first session and upped the ante with a 6.600 at 208.49 mph run.
"It's good for Lucas Oil," Morgan said. "I couldn't have done a better job for all those guys here so far. Hopefully, we can go out and win the race, but we did a good job qualifying. We ran quicker every time, and I'm not used to that. All the spark plugs stayed in it, the clutch disks were right – hopefully all the stars are aligned for us here.
"That was very important, especially since we just had one day of qualifying. I couldn't be any more excited than I am for this race."
Arana Jr. faces GT Tonglet in Sunday's first round of eliminations, which are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Eastern. Arana Sr. races Angie Smith in the first round of Pro Stock Motorcycle.
In Pro Stock, Morgan squares off against V Gaines in the first round.