STRAIGHT UP - BIKE LEADER ARANA JR. HAS SECRET COUNTDOWN WEAPON

susan_01.jpg

No one else except non-Countdown-driver Brandon Bernstein has the advantage, but Pro Stock Motorcycle leader Hector Arana Jr. only has to look across the dinner table to get championship advice.

Dad Hector Arana Sr. won the bike-class crown in 2009, and the son said he already has received valuable advice on the eve of the six-race playoff.

"He's been there; he's done that. So in a way I have all of his 20 years of experience in racing underneath my belt with only three years. Because he has told me everything and he's there [each] step of the way.  Sometimes he's even there going down a track right beside me. So definitely, it is a good tool to have," he said. "I'm definitely going to use him to my advantage for going for this championship this year."

 

 

 

 Competition-plus-banner-700x100

 
susan_01.jpgNo one else except non-Countdown-driver Brandon Bernstein has the advantage, but Pro Stock Motorcycle leader Hector Arana Jr. only has to look across the dinner table to get championship advice.

Dad Hector Arana Sr. won the bike-class crown in 2009, and the son said he already has received valuable advice on the eve of the six-race playoff.

"He's been there; he's done that. So in a way I have all of his 20 years of experience in racing underneath my belt with only three years. Because he has told me everything and he's there [each] step of the way.  Sometimes he's even there going down a track right beside me. So definitely, it is a good tool to have," he said. "I'm definitely going to use him to my advantage for going for this championship this year."

He said his first topic for his father was "just how to keep a clear mind, how to stay relaxed, because to me that is key.  Sometimes you can get wrapped up in the points and the championship, and I think it can fog your thinking sometimes and maybe slow down your reactions or maybe just throw you off your game."

Arana Jr. said his first question to his dad was "How did you stay relaxed and keep a clear mind and stay under control under all the pressure as the Countdown goes on?"

His own strategy, he said, is the clich├ęd but proven "Take it one round at a time."  He said he learned the hard way -- by not doing that earlier in the year: "I try not to get ahead of myself, which I did a little bit in the middle of the season. But I think I learned my lesson there."

So his game plan is to "stay relaxed, racing my own lane, not worrying about who is next to me, and just believing in the Lucas Oil Buell that I'm riding -- because it's one hell of a machine.  I know if I can ride it the way it's supposed to be ridden, that she will lead me to the championship."

OUCH - Pro Stock leader Mike Edwards will be racing with a torn left rotator cuff, and the Oklahoma ace said, "It definitely needs surgery.  I've torn my rotator cuff pretty severe.  So it's definitely going to have to have surgery."

He said he has been in pain with the shoulder problem especially lately and that it has "been hurting me since before Denver but it's progressively gotten worse. I didn't really know exactly what it was until after Brainerd. I was really suffering there with it. So I went home and had an MRI done.

"We got the MRI back, and the doctor told me what was going on and what he suggested I do.  That was to have surgery the next day. I told him it's not possible. So it is what it is.  People have mountains to climb, and this is my mountain. I'm going to do the very best I can," Edwards said. 

"It's just do what I can do. Do the best I can, and whatever happens. God has everything in control.  If it's meant to be for me, it's going to happen.  So that's the way I look at it," Edwards said.

He said he doesn't know how much it will affect his driving as he tries to parlay one of his career-best seasons into another Pro Stock championship. "It is what it is. I'm just going to have to . . . It's not really going to have to be an issue for me. It is what it is. I'm just going to have to try to do the very best I can, and whatever the outcome is, I can't do a whole lot about it right now until after the season," he said. "But what I'm going to do is focus on everything I've been focusing on all year and just trying to do the best I can."

He predicted that "this is going to be probably the tightest championship that we've seen since we've been doing the Countdown. Right now there is no dominance in Pro Stock. It's going to be anybody's championship.  It's just going to be whoever makes the least mistakes -- whoever runs the best, and it's a team effort. That's what makes championships, these teams. That's why there are about six or eight of us down here at Charlotte right now testing before next weekend. Everybody's here doing what they need to do to try to do the best they can.  It's going to be exciting for the fans, I can tell you that.  I sure hate to lose that 200 point lead I had."

COMING TO AMERICA - A dozen years of planning and dreaming finally are becoming a realty for Dutch businessman and Top Fuel racer Lex Joon and wife Gerda. They're leaving behind family, friends, businesses, and their familiar way of life in Zaandam, The Netherlands, to pursue drag-racing success, starting with a fulltime NHRA schedule in 2014. Joon is the most successful drag racer in the history of The Netherlands and was the 2005 FIA European Top Fuel champion and runner-up in 2007 and 2008. He said his inspiration is two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk. Joon is in the process of selling his auto repair shop and service center, Autobedrijf Lex Joon, in Zaandam.

DSR DOING OK - Although Don Schumacher Racing had no dragsters left in the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals after the first round, it still has two of the top three-ranked Top Fuel drivers in the Countdown. Spencer Massey is No.2 and Tony Schumacher No. 3 in the standings. On the Funny Car side, the top three racers are from DSR: leader Matt Hagan, followed by Ron Capps and Johnny Gray. Traxxas Nitro Shootout winner Jack Beckman is fifth. During the so-called "regular season," DSR 20 of a possible 36 nitro event trophies (11 of 17 in Funny Car) and (nine of 17 in Top Fuel). DSR drivers have scored double-nitro victories six times so far this year.

WILL WORSHAM BE THIRD TO DOUBLE UP? - Del Worsham, driver of the DHL Toyota Camry for Kalitta Motorsports in Funny Car competition, is 10th in the lineup as the Countdown begins. And he has his eye on joining Kenny Bernstein and Gary Scelzi as a champion in both nitro classes. The 2011 Top Fuel champion (with Al-Anabi Racing) said,  "Of course, winning the championship in both nitro classes would be great, but winning the Funny Car championship with our DHL team this year would be even more special. I've spent most of my career racing in Funny Cars, and I would love to get the championship in Funny Car with our team. We've fought so hard all year and made improvements all year. Everyone on our DHL team deserves to be where we are, and we're all ready for the challenge." They've dubbed themselves the "Yella Fellas," and they've had one runner-up result and four semifinal finishes, as well as one top-qualifying position.

GOOD SHOT AT IT - At No. 4 in the Top Fuel standings, Doug Kalitta is just 50 points off leader Shawn Langdon's pace. The Mac Tools Dragster driver, a preseason favorite, said, "I think we've got a really good shot at it. Jim (crew chief Oberhofer) and Troy (assistant crew chief Fasching), and our entire Mac Tools team have given me a great race car to drive this year. We are going to give it our all and hopefully get that big trophy at the end of the season." For the 1994 national USAC Sprint Car champion, it would be his first NHRA Top Fuel series title.

AT PITCH FEVER? - If Pitch Energy Dodge crew chief Rob Wendland is right, Johnny Gray might be the Funny Car guy to try to avoid in eliminations at Charlotte and beyond. "We're actually really excited to start the Countdown now, because things that we've implemented in this car are awesome. It's just going to take a couple more runs to get it under control. The rest of the class is going to be mad when they have to race us, because we've opened our window up and made our window even faster. The next thing we're excited about is that we're bringing a brand-new car out."  He and Gray and the team are testing at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis before heading to Charlotte. "We like new pipe," Wendland said. "If this pipe turns out to be like the last pipe we put together, that's just going to put another feather in our cap. We'll test it, and if we find that it isn't working out right, we still have the car we're leaving here with that is 100-percent intact. We're real excited. This is our time to peak."



All articles and photography published in CompetitionPlus.com are protected by United States of America and International copyright laws unless mentioned otherwise. The content on this website is intended for the private use of the reader and may not be published or reposted in any form without the prior written consent of CompetitionPlus.com.