Buell Rider Wins Championship
After 19 years of futility, Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Hector Arana finally won his first NHRA national event last year when he claimed the race trophy in Norwalk, Ohio. The Puerto Rican native said at the time that life simply couldn’t get any better.
Sunday at the Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif., the 51-year-old found a way to top that feat, clinching his first Full Throttle Championship by riding his powerful Lucas Oil Buell V-Twin to the top of the drag racing world.
Hector Arana Speaks…
"It hasn’t really hit me yet," Arana said. "A lot of things happened for this — I won five races, won three in a row, set the national record, won the championship. This is awesome, and having my family and Lucas Oil behind me and supporting me, it’s a great feeling. I don’t have to worry about anything else."
With most preseason polls favoring the Harley-Davidson tandem of defending series champion Eddie Krawiec and three-time titlist Andrew Hines, Arana wasted little time announcing his own candidacy with a big win at the season-opening Gatornationals, where he easily outperformed his rivals.
But his journey to the top soon took a detour and he slowly slipped down the rankings over the next six races until finally bottoming out in seventh place after a lackluster return to Norwalk.
"We started good this year, and then I don’t know if you just get hungry and want more, but we had little mishaps here and there — clutch, tire, concentration," Arana said. "We went down for a time, but I’m the type of person, I go to sleep and think of what happened that day, what I could have done. If there is a problem I try to fix it in my dreams. I go over it, wake up in the morning and say, ‘This is what we’re going to do.’"
For Arana, one of those dreams pointed him towards to Pro Stock racer Larry Morgan’s engine shop in Newark, Ohio. Morgan is a teammate to Arana under the Lucas Oil umbrella and he had offered to look over and modify Arana’s powerplants. Morgan was able to make some modifications that paid immediate dividends.
"Larry Morgan, he is one of the blessings I have," Arana said. "He wanted to see the cylinder head and see what he could do for me. He looked over it, he worked on it, and he said, ‘You’re going to be in good shape; you’re going to do it.’ He is a big part of this.
"When he gave me more performance, my confidence was higher, and that was one less thing to worry about. To have the horsepower to run those awesome numbers was great. Those bonus points I collected by qualifying No. 1 added up for me to be here and win this championship. Larry did his job, he did it all."
With his newfound horsepower, Arana emerged from his slump and started racing deep into Sunday’s action at every national event. Wins in Brainerd, Minn., and Indianapolis lifted him to third by the start of the Countdown to 1 playoff and since then Arana was near perfect, qualifying No. 1 at four of the final five races and racking up two more victories in three final-round showings.
As it turned out, Krawiec and Hines were the closest to Arana in the final point standings, but they couldn’t quite do enough to win it all. Krawiec ended up second, just two points back, while Hines was third, 144 off Arana’s pace.
"I just knew I had it, knew it was there," Arana said of the final push that earned him the title. "With Lucas Oil behind me, how could I quit? When things were going tough, I just worked harder. My determination was even more. It never crossed my mind to quit. I knew I was going to stick to the end until I found a solution. Now I am the champion."