SONOMA, Calif. (July 29) — For the fourth time in the last five races, Lucas Oil Racing TV Buell rider Hector Arana Jr. will start race day from the No. 2 starting spot after his 6.773-second run at 197.91 mph during Saturday’s first time trial earned him the lofty spot on the ladder.
“I like this race a lot,” Arana said. “I’ve won here before in 2013 so I know first-hand it’s a nice race to win. We’re going to do our best to go out there, take it one round at a time, and see what happens. The first thing you need to do to win is put yourself in a position to win, and we’ve done that yet again.”
Arana had visions of earning his first pole of the year after his 6.773 held the top slot until midway through the final session when Matt Smith bettered his mark by .002 seconds.
“For a minute or two we were upset over here about No.2,” Arana admitted. “I think maybe we’re being a little greedy because being No. 2 is something most people would take in a heartbeat if it was offered. Still, it’s like that carrot dangling in front of a donkey — you really want to reach out there and get it for yourself.
“After thinking about it and taking a few deep breaths, we are obviously super happy to have such a consistent bike over the past five races. We’ve been No. 2 qualifier four times and we were No. 3 the other time so we’re right where we want to be. Maybe not getting No.1 here will motivate us to work even harder and push ourselves harder to be better. If you look at it that way it’s really a good thing. We’ll get there.”
Arana’s run of record came during a first-round loss in the Mickey Thompson Tires Pro Bike Battle, a special race-within-a-race for the top eight Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifiers of the last 12 months. Arana’s superior elapsed time over opponent Jerry Savoie was negated by a -.006-second red-light start. Despite the foul, the time still counted towards qualifying for the Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals.
By qualifying No. 2, Arana will enjoy lane choice in Sunday’s opening round of eliminations when he takes on No. 15 qualifier Cory Reed, who had a best pass of 6.889 at 191.46 mph. Arana and Reed will be meeting for the first time this season.
“We have a fast bike that is right there where we want it to be,” Arana said. “I said before the race I wanted to double up and win the Battle and the race itself. Then I was asked if I had to pick one or the other, which one would I choose. I said the race, so my primary goal is still attainable.”
Pro Stock Motorcycle eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will carry live eliminations from 1-4 p.m., Sunday. (All times are local and subject to change.)