DALLAS (Oct. 11) — Perhaps no one in the NHRA’s professional ranks is more anxious for this weekend’s 32nd annual AAA Texas NHRA Fallnationals then championship contender Hector Arana Jr. Coming off his first Round 1 loss in six months, Arana Jr. is dead-set on proving the doubters wrong with a quick return to the top form he’s displayed for most of the 2017 season.
“No question we had a bit of bad luck and it was bad timing for that to happen to us in St. Louis but all we can do, what we’re going to do, is look forward and move forward,” Arana Jr. said. “Of course, it’s still possible to win the championship but we’re not going to race with that in mind. It never works. Nothing to do with winning the championship will change the decisions we make at the racetrack.
“It sounds cliché but we’ll be taking things one round at a time, beginning with the first qualifying session Friday. We’re not going to get in over our heads. We’re going to stick with what’s worked for us all year. We’ll try to be No. 1 qualifier every round and try to win every round we race on Sunday. That’s the best way to drag race.”
To that end, Arana’s father and teammate, Hector Arana Sr., took full advantage of the off weekend and went through his son’s Lucas Oil Racing TV Buell from end to end. He also completely disassembled and freshened all three motors the team will use down the stretch.
“We wanted to figure out what changed in St. Louis for us to go from the top of the timing sheets to mid-pack, which ultimately led to our early exit,” Arana Jr. said. “Dad put the engines on the dyno when they first got there, saw where we were, and then went to work getting them back where they were before.
“In the end, the engines are back to 100 percent and ready to race. All three are very strong and he figured out what had happened and why we were leaving slower than before. It took an incredible amount of work and lots of late nights going through our notes but Dad got it done and I’m super appreciative of him, even more than normal.”
The Texas Motorplex has been good to Arana Jr. in the past. He was runner-up at the 2011 race and earned low qualifier honors in both 2011 and 2012.
This year, Arana Jr. has recorded three runner-up finishes, finishing second in Englishtown, Chicago and Indianapolis. He was also top qualifier in Brainerd.
“We are ready,” Arana Jr. said. “Maybe some people have written us off and that’s fine. We plan on showing everyone we’re not done fighting just yet.”
Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying sessions are scheduled for 2:15 and 5:15 p.m., Friday, and 1:15 and 4:15 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will carry the first day qualifying action live from 5-6 p.m., Friday. Live eliminations will air on FOX Sports 1 from 1-4 p.m., Sunday. (All times are local and subject to change.)