Score one for the peasants!
Hector Arana Sr. led the Pro Stock Motorcycle class in Friday qualifying at the National Hot Rod Association's AAA Texas Fall Nationals, and Hector Arana Jr. is second overnight, trumping the Vance & Hines Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson duo of Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec.
Arana Sr. posted a 6.898-second elapsed time at 195.11 mph, and Arana Jr. was one-thousandth of second behind at 6.899 (at 193.63) on the Texas Motorplex quarter-mile at Ennis, south of Dallas.
The Milltown, Ind., father-son Lucas Oil Buell team has earned five No. 1 qualifying positions in the 11 bike races so far this season. But with a collection of five runner-up finishes to match, they have not stopped the Harley-Davidson dominators. In fact, Michael Ray (Atlanta) and LE Tonglet (Chicago) are the only other riders to advance to a final besides Krawiec, Hines, and the Aranas. Krawiec and Hines have faced each other in four finals.
Krawic, the points leader and first-session low qualifier, ended Friday's action in the No. 3 spot with a 6.906 E.T. at 194.30 mph, and Hines followed in fourth at 6.917, 194.10.
Knowing how they like to needle Krawiec and Hines, who have swept all the victories this season so far, no one would be surprised if the Arana tandem were to bring out sandbags again, like it did in July at Sonoma.
That's when Arana Jr. likened his team's situation to working like hard-toiling peasants, subsisting on the leftovers from the kings of the manor, the Harley-Davidson riders. The Arana crew creatively came to the starting line that weekend, wearing peasant-style garb fashioned from bed sheets from the local Wal-Mart shelves. The sandbags indicated that they thought the Harley-Davidson team wasn't letting everyone see its full potential.
The feudal images began a bit of feuding, but Krawiec and Hines weren't offended. They played along with it. Five races later, the Harley-Davidson "masters" of the class hadn't let up with the floggings. The NHRA imposed an additional 10 pounds on the Harley-Davidsons for the remainder of this season, starting at this race, as part of its announcement of 2013 rules aimed at class parity.
"I believe we have to take the opportunity now and see if we can come up with a win and grab some points, because once they dial it in, those extra 10 pounds, they might not have the perfect tune-up yet or the clutch combination because of the extra weight," Arana said, referring to the NHRA's latest action. "We have to take advantage of the situation for later.
"The rule changed a little bit. It could give us a small chance of knocking them down, stop the wins, the streak that they're on," Arana Sr. said.
Arana's laugh answered the question about how long he and the other Buell and Suzuki riders will have to make up ground on the Vance & Hines team. "That team right there is excellent. They've got excellent crew chiefs and management. It won't take them long at all," he said, emphasizing every word, "as you can see in the first run of qualifying.
"I was surprised what they ran, Arana Sr. said. "I believe they just missed their tune-up and we were there to grab those extra points."
As he seeks his fifth top starting spot of the season and 22nd of his career, Arana said, "I definitely feel happier. We have more momentum going, especially with the second run. We picked up the pace a little bit, and the track has been great. We can probably get even more aggressive tomorrow."
Naturally, Arana is proud of his son's performance, but he even wants to ace him.
"When I seen Hector run an .89 (6.899), and my early run was almost perfect, I go, 'Wow! An .89! What does this kid have that I don't have?' Then I took the pole," Senior said.
Their weight and riding style, and therefore their tune-ups and set-ups, make their bikes not as much in synch as they might like to have them, he said.
"Pretty much his style, my style, the bike, everything is different. We try to get as close as we can, but it never works out that way," Arana Sr. said.
"Each motor is different, likes its own tune-up. The weight of my son, the way he rides, the clutch is always different. So we can't really share that much information, but the advantage is we more or less know what's going on. I know his set-up. He knows mine. So we watch each other to see what happens at the starting line." He said he hopes he's always the second of the two to run "so I can take advantage of that."
Competitor Matt Smith, the 2007 champion who's in the provisional No. 13 slot, said he thinks the immediate 10-pound weight addition to the Harleys "is a joke."
Smith told Competition Plus' Tracy Renck on Thursday, "NHRA told us all year long that they [Harley-Davidsons] do not have a performance advantage, yet they are changing the rules like they are for next year. Obviously, they know more than what they are telling everybody else. Regardless, they got paid to let this happen this year by Harley-Davidson. Just flat honest, there is no other reason they would have done what they did to the class this year. For them (NHRA) to add 10 pounds, they are just justifying that they can say that they did something. That's all they are looking at. That 10 pounds is going to do nothing to them. The only way that Harley-Davidson and Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines are going to lose a race this year is either on a parts failure or they screw up. That's it. They will sweep the whole year unless one of those two things happen."
If Smith is right, at least Hector Arana Sr. wants to be there to take advantage of that.
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