When he won the first three NHRA Mello Yellow Drag Racing Series events of the season, there was no reason not to think that Lucas Oil Buell’s Hector Arana Jr. would continue his hot start and collect many more victories as his bike was easily the best in the class and his riding was solid. What followed was a prolonged slump that Arana Jr. is still at a loss to explain as he went winless for the next winless for the next five events. But after claiming his latest victory at Sonoma Raceway, he’s feels as though he’s finally regained the winning touch.
In a battle of two of the biggest rivals in the class, Arana Jr. held off Viper Motorcycle Co. Buell’s Matt Smith, on a holeshot, winning with a 6.878 to Smith’s slightly quicker 6.877.
“This has been a long time coming,” said Arana Jr. “For a while I lost focus. “After I won those three races in a row, I started to think about winning the race before winning the first round. I think that’s what happened to me in my little slump; I was trying to win them all. I’m not going to do that anymore.”
The atmospheric conditions in Sonoma allowed for some of the quickest elapsed times in this season and Arana was right in the thick of it as he qualified number two in the field with a 6.840 right behind final round opponent Matt Smith.
Arana was strong during Friday and Saturday’s qualifying rounds and he was even better on race day as he rode to a 6.842 in his round one win against Sovereign/Star Buell’s Scotty Pollacheck and a 6.851 a round later versus the resurgent Suzuki of White Alligator Racing’s Jerry Savoie.
During his three-year career, Arana Jr. has longed to race his father, Hector Sr. in a final round and that dream nearly came true in Sonoma. Arana Jr. reached the final when he rode to a 6.856 win in the semi final against Tough Girl Designs Suzuki’s Katie Sullivan, but father Hector Sr. fell in a close battle against Smith’s Viper Motorcycle Co. Buell.
“When we looked at the ladder and saw that dad and I were on opposite sides, it became our goal to get there and have the first father-son final in the class,” Arana Jr. said. “It didn’t happen, but everything happens for a reason. I was able to come back and get the win for our team. That felt really good and gratifying.”