Quickly navigating a racing surface he’d never raced on before presented no significant challenge for Hector Arana Jr. After all, the 2011 NHRA Rookie of the Year recipient faced a new surface every time he straddled his Lucas Oil-sponsored Buell last year.
Friday, the sophomore Pro Stock Motorcycle rider navigated the Gateway International Raceway, like a veteran in his maiden visit, during first day qualifying for the AAA NHRA Midwest Nationals.
Arana’s 6.826 seconds run vaulted him to the top of provisional qualifying. He was .001 quicker than his father, Hector Sr., who finished second after two sessions. The Harley-Davidson entries of Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines were third and fourth respectively.
“It’s exciting to have a different layout every time,” said Arana, who stands on the cusp of his ninth career No. 1 qualifier. “There’s a different compound and in learning about the track you always build your database of notes, knowledge and gain better tuning experience. Every track has its own feel. This one feels pretty good so far.”
Friday was a good experience on a track where his experience is limited.
“I’ve been low for each round and it’s really great because we’ve been consistent,” said Arana. “It’s very important to have this kind of success on Sunday.”
Last year Arana had enough consistency to score three wins. This season he still seeks his first.
“This is what we’re working on,” explained Arana. “Getting rid of the silly mistakes is crucial. We want to go rounds.”
Last weekend in Dallas, Arana fell in the second round of eliminations when he fouled against eventual winner Michael Ray. Upon exiting eliminations, the team packed up and headed back to their Indianapolis home base where the burned the midnight oil freshening up their arsenal of engines.
“We were able to get another engine together,” Arana revealed. “We left the shop at midnight on Wednesday so we could get to St. Louis on Thursday.”
By Friday, Arana and the team arrived at the top of the qualifying list.
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