Hector Arana Jr. doesn’t have to go far to find inspiration for drag racing

LAS VEGAS (Oct. 25) — The road to an NHRA championship is tough. There are ever-changing mechanical hurdles, the most intense head-to-head competition on earth and the constant stress of keeping the proper funding in place.

For seven-year veteran Hector Arana Jr., finding the impetus to carry on year after year is never far away, and it’s something he carries with him into every race, including this weekend’s 17th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“My dad raced 19 years before he ever won a race,” Arana Jr. said, referencing his teammate, Hector Arana Sr. “He raced 20 years to get his first championship. I’ve only been out here seven years and I’ve already won 11 times. I won three times in my rookie year. When you take a step back and look at my career, how can I complain?”

Arana Jr. was hopeful of bagging his first championship this year and after entering the Countdown to the Championship a lofty third in the rankings, it seemed like he’d have a great chance. But a recent two-race hiccup where he suffered uncharacteristic first-round setbacks extinguished this year’s chances.

Undaunted, he brings his Lucas Oil Racing TV Buell to Vegas intent on reaching his fourth final round of the year and possibly scoring his first Wally trophy of the season.

“We have all the same parts and pieces in place,” Arana Jr. said. “We haven’t forgotten how to race. We just didn’t mix the ingredients the right way the last few races. This is the same bike and the same motors that carried us to runner-up finishes in Englishtown, Chicago and Indianapolis so we know what we have is good.

“Vegas is a ton of fun and a great track. Everything Bruton Smith owns is top-rate and it’s a track that provides a very level playing field. We’re going to do all we can to get back to the winner’s circle. My dad didn’t give up and we won’t either.”

Pro Stock qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1:45 and 4:15 p.m., Friday, and 1:15 and 3:45 p.m., Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will carry the first day qualifying action live from 3-4 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.)