SONOMA, Calif. (July 30) — Hector Arana Jr. remained one of the hottest riders in the NHRA’s Pro Stock Motorcycle class with yet another semifinal finish, this time at Sunday’s Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway. Arana beat Cory Reed and Karen Stoffer before being clipped in the third round by class leader LE Tonglet.
In the last five national events, Arana has two runner-up finishes, two semifinal results and has qualified in the No. 2 spot four times.
“It was another decent weekend,” Arana said. “Of course, at this point, nothing but a win is going to make me completely happy. We are right there; so close. It’s a really tough field in Pro Stock Motorcycle this year. There’s so many great bikes and strong riders.
“I just gotta really sit myself down and get back into the mental game. I have to get a little more focused on what I’m doing as a rider. We’ve got the bike right, but I need work. I’m focused but I’m probably only about 85 percent focused, so I need to find a way to get 100 percent focused. If I get there, we’ll be good.”
Arana looked sharp against Reed and Stoffer. He beat Reed with a 6.749 at 199.52 mph, the quickest pass of the entire weekend, well in front of Reed’s 6.974 at 186.10 mph. He then put Stoffer on the trailer with a 6.797 at 198.23 mph to her 6.841 at 195.56 mph.
He only started questioning his focus after his semifinal loss to Tonglet, where the four-time 2017 winner eked out the victory with a 6.796 at 197.65 mph to Arana’s closely trailing 6.800 at 198.20 mph. Had Arana cut a better light, he could have stolen away the win with a holeshot.
“I will have to look back at the data from that run,” Arana said. “I know I did miss one shift point just by a fraction of a second so that might have slowed us down a little bit but we’ll just move forward. We are right there, so we’ll be good.
“I’ll work on my lights at home. I tend to do a bunch of mental runs in my head and I have an actual Christmas Tree in my basement. I go, sit down in the basement and just practice on that thing for hours. The thing is to not just practice but to visualize an entire race. I actually visualize racing, try not to rush the tree, and just go through the entire procedure just like I would at the track.”
The Pro Stock Motorcycle class takes a race off before returning to action Aug. 18-20 at the 36th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway in Northern Minnesota.