POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 7) — Hector Arana Jr. has had a great 2017 campaign. He’s raced to four final rounds, earned low qualifier honors in Brainerd, and risen as high as third in the Mello Yello championship points. The only thing missing is a win, something he’d like to remedy this weekend at the 53rd annual Auto Club NHRA Finals.
“I want to win in the worst way,” Arana Jr. said. “It would be the perfect way to end the year. I’ve won Pomona before (in 2014) and I think we showed in Las Vegas that our bike and our engines are right where they need to be to give us the chance. It’s simply a matter of everything coming together in one weekend.”
Arana Jr. qualified No. 2 on the grid in Vegas and raced to the final round before bowing to points leader and pending champion Eddie Krawiec by just .015 seconds. It was a great rebound for the 28-year-old, second-generation pro after a pair of debilitating first-round losses at the previous two races.
“We really have no explanation for what happened in St. Louis and Dallas,” Arana Jr. said. “For some reason we weren’t getting the same numbers we’d been getting all year. And between Dallas and Las Vegas, and now between Las Vegas and Pomona, we’re doing the same standard service we always do.
“There’s a tendency to make massive changes when you have an off weekend and it’s tough to stick to the bigger plan but we had the discipline to do that and it paid off big time in Vegas. Now I hope it carries over to Pomona because we’re anxious to get another win.”
Aside from his victory in 2014 at Pomona, last year his father and teammate, Hector Arana Sr. recorded top speed of the meet when he went 196.82 mph.
“We have the data to work from and we have two bikes that both qualified in the top half of the field in Vegas,” Arana Jr. said. “I think we have a really good chance to take the trophy.
“It’s important also that we honor Junior Pippin this weekend. He passed away from cancer this past week and we’re all heartbroken. Junior was a very close friend of my dad and he was always very cool to me as I came up to the pro ranks. He was a great racer and a better man. He’ll be missed.”
Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying sessions are scheduled for 12 and 2:45 p.m., Friday and Saturday. Eliminations begin at noon, Sunday. FOX Sports 1 will carry the first day qualifying action live from 3:30-4:30 p.m., Friday. The network also will air the second day of qualifying from 3-4 p.m., Saturday. Live eliminations will air from 1-4 p.m., Sunday. (All times are local and subject to change.)