After earning just one win during the ten-race “regular season” of NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle competition, Lucas Oil EBR’s Hector Arana Jr. picked the right time to get hot when outlasted the competition at the Dodge NHRA nationals in Reading, Pennsylvania, September 14-16. By taking the 13th win of his career, Arana jumped to second in the points standings following the first race in the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s six-race playoff to determine the season champion.
2018 Dodge NHRA Pennsylvania Results
In the final round, Arana rode to a 6.842-second run at 197.74 mph to defeat low qualifier Matt Smith, who had a fuel line come off his bike during the run, causing him to slow to a 7.306 at just 145.88. Arana now trails leader Eddie Krawiec by just three points in the standings.
“What matters are the wins in the Countdown and that’s what we’re working on,” said Arana Jr., who earned his second win in Reading. “We’re working on consistency and we’ve been working on that all year. We’ve got a strong championship contender with this bike and I can’t thank my team enough. They work super, super hard. We’re definitely working really hard for a championship.”
Arana Jr. opened eliminations with a win against Ron Tornow and had one of the quicker bikes in the quarterfinal round with a 6.885 run to defeat Yello Corn Buell’s Joey Gladstone, who recently joined Cory Reed’s Liberty Racing squad after spending the first two-thirds of the season with the Stoffer/Underdahl team. Arana’s biggest round win came with four bikes remaining when he topped Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson’s Eddie Krawiec, the reigning champ and incoming points leader. Arana used another 6.88-second run to narrowly edge Krawiec’s 6.90.
Ironically, Arana’s father, Hector Sr., did not qualify for the Reading field, but he insists the lack of a second bike did little to change the team’s race-day strategy.
“My dad and I always share input from one another and that didn’t change even though he wasn’t riding on Sunday,” Arana Jr. said. “It was tough for him but we made the best of it. I like to think my win helped make up for him not qualifying. He definitely seemed like he was in a better mood after we won it.”
Earlier this year, Arana Jr. became the first rider in the class to
Officially run over 200-mph and he has since made numerous he 200-mph runs, but wins have been hard to come by.
“I definitely have had a lot of great accomplishments in my career, but I think only thing that is lacking now is a championship. I think we can do it this year.”
Smith didn’t get the win, but he accomplished just about everything else he could do in Reading. The two-time NHRA champ qualified No. 1 in the quick field and rode to his 47th career final round with wins over John Hall, Steve Johnson and Nitro Fish Suzki’s LE Tonglet. Like Arana Jr., Smith also gave his championship hopes a boost by going from sixth to third in the championship standings with five events remaining in the season.
“I hate that we couldn’t finish the job because I definitely had a bike to do it,” Smith said. “We just had some bad luck in the final with that [lose] fuel line, but it was good to start in the No. 1 spot. We got a lot of bonus points during qualifying and that’s going to be a big help as this Countdown goes on. If this bike keeps running like it has the last few races, we’re going to be in a position to win the championship. I feel really good about where we’re at right now.”
There are five races remaining in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
By Kevin McKenna