LAS VEGAS (Oct. 29) — Hector Arana Jr. emerged from a two-race funk in grand style Sunday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, racing his Lucas Oil Racing TV Buell to final round of the 17th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals before settling for runner-up honors to points leader and pending champion Eddie Krawiec.
“This was a great rebound weekend for us,” Arana Jr. said. “It’s just crazy how drag racing goes because there really wasn’t anything drastically different when we weren’t running well to what we did this weekend when everything started clicking again. It just felt like luck returned to our side and I do believe we made our own luck so we’re very happy to have our bike back in top form.”
Once as high as third in the championship points, Arana Jr. dropped back to seventh after untimely back-to-back first-round losses in St. Louis and Dallas. But those results were soothed greatly by Sunday’s performance.
“It does bother you when you have bad races and to have two in a row at such a crucial time in the Countdown to the Championship made it worse,” Arana Jr. said. “But all you can do is learn from each race, good or bad, and move forward. That was our mindset and this weekend it all came back together for us.”
Race day started with a free pass for Arana Jr. when first-round opponent Katie Sullivan couldn’t get her bike to start. Arana Jr. then went on to run a strong 6.947 at 192.30 mph, which would have been tough for anyone to beat. It was almost as easy in the quarterfinals when rival Mike Berry jumped the light by -.026 seconds, earning an automatic disqualification. That time Arana Jr. ran a 6.966 at 192.99 mph.
Facing second-ranked LE Tonglet in the semifinals, Arana Jr. used a massive .100-second holeshot to steal away a huge victory, with his 7.061 at 191.10 mph more than enough to hold off Tonglet’s hard-charging 7.009 at 191.62 mph.
With the trophy on the line against Krawiec, Arana Jr. came up just a little short with his 6.949 at 192.91 mph not quite enough to beat Krawiec’s 6.924 at 193.16 mph.
“I was pleased to see us record that number in the final, even though Eddie outran us, because we had slowed quite a bit against LE,” Arana Jr. said. “It was great for the team to go back to the pit after the semis and fix what had happened and come out and give Eddie a run for his money.”
Racing for the first time since the Englishtown event, Hector Arana Sr. suffered a red-light disqualification in Round 1, handing the win to Berry. The loss was an upset as Arana Sr. had out-qualified Berry by four sports.
“Having Dad back out here racing alongside me was super special, for both of us really,” Arana Jr. said. “It was cool to see him smiling again. He loves riding that Lucas Oil EBR and we got some great data this weekend we can use in the future with that bike.”