Reigning rookie of the year Arana Jr. wishing to close out season on high note
Lucas Oil Buell rider Hector Arana Jr. has one goal remaining for the 2012 Pro Stock Motorcycle season: Win a race. Or two.
That quest starts with this weekend's 12th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Arana Jr. has done just about everything else in his second season as a professional. He's qualified No. 1 three times and raced to three final rounds and made nine semifinal appearances. He's more than overcome any "sophomore slump" after winning the Auto Club road to the Future Award as NHRA's top rookie in 2011.
"I really, really, really want to win a race this year," Arana Jr. said. "I know the championship's out of the picture now, but I at least want to get a Wally out of 2012."
Arana Jr. is third in the Pro Stock Motorcycle points standings, and he's 139 points out of the lead with two races remaining. Arana Jr. hasn't given up on winning the title, though he knows that would be a tall order.
"I'm going to go all out, Hail Mary," Arana Jr. said. "If I can get second place, that's fine. But I want to do the best I can do, and hopefully get a Wally, if not two. It's possible to get two more."
Arana Jr., who won three times in 2011, spent the time since the most recent race in Reading, Pa., preparing for Vegas and Pomona, the season-finale.
"We went over the bike real well, checked everything," said Arana Jr., who has qualified fourth or better 19 races in a row. "We did a good inspection on the bike, the frame, the wheels, the brakes, little things like that that when you're on that six-week stretch gets overlooked. And we did routine maintenance on the motor.
"We were trying to recuperate, get focused and get ready for these two races.
One thing won't do this weekend is spend too much time in the Vegas casinos. Arana Jr. spent time with girlfriend Nicole Nobile and her brother Vincent in Vegas during the first NHRA race at The Strip earlier this year, as the bikes weren't racing that weekend. It didn't go so well in Glitter Gulch.
"I'm already $100 down because the casinos got me back in the spring," Arana Jr. said. "That's $100 too much. I'm just a college kid.Follow @Lucas_Oil