POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 11) — It happened by accident, but now that it’s working, no one is more excited about the future than Lucas Oil Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Hector Arana Jr.
After detonating a motor in Friday’s first qualifying session of this weekend’s 53rd annual Auto Club NHRA Finals, Arana Jr. and crew discovered enough damage to their trusty Buell that they made the call to switch machines and finish the race with the EBR V-Twin Hector Arana Sr. captained two weeks ago in Las Vegas.
The first run Friday night — a 6.953/194.94 — was decent, but given a night to fine-tune the new bike to their horsepower, the team put together the best run they’ve ever had on the bike, a 6.828 at 198.15 mph, in Q3. Considering future plans call for the Buell to be retired permanently, this weekend is a great start on next year’s championship charge.
“This bike, she’s fast,” Arana Jr. said. “We are excited to run it. It’s a fast bike, the motor in it is really strong so we are excited about tomorrow and the future.
“It’s actually really good to run this bike in a real race and gather up as much data as possible so we can make the changes we need to make in the off season. Between me and my dad, we’ve only made a couple of runs with the new EBR body work but a few runs is better than none. Now when we come back next year, for myself on a new bike, I’ll have a leg up on what it will do. I’ll know what’s going on and what to expect.”
After making such a big move in Q3, crew chief Jim Yates examined the data and determined there was plenty of room to improve. They tried to capitalize on that in Q4 but something happened and the bike didn’t make it off the launch pad under power.
“Honestly, we don’t know what happened yet,” Arana Jr. said. “We will have to go and download and try to figure out what it did and make sure it doesn’t happen again. We are going to go through and check everything to make sure we’re ready to race.”
As the No. 5 qualifier, Arana Jr. will open race day opposite Matt Smith, who qualified 12th with a 6.953 at 192.85 mph. Smith eliminated Arana Jr. from the first two races of the season but the two have not squared off since then.
“I want to win, not just to win but to get more laps on this EBR,” Arana Jr. said. “You look at the EBR against the Buell and you wouldn’t think it’s that different, but the body and everything actually is really different. Just the way the bike feels, it’s different all the way around. I like it. I’ll like it more if when we win.”
FOX Sports 1 will air elimination action live from 1-4 p.m., Sunday. (Time is local and subject to change.)