Son shows that father doesn’t always know best in historic NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle win

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JOLIET, Illinois – A week ago at Epping, New Hampshire, a husband and wife met for the first time in a final round in National Hot Rod Association history when Angie Smith defeated husband and defending world champ Matt in the Pro Stock Motorcycle category.

Sunday at Route 66 Raceway, another significant milestone occurred with the first father-son final in PSM history when father Hector Arana Sr. met Hector Arana Jr. in the final round of the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 Nationals.

When the two Miami natives and Buell-powered PSM riders reached the finish line, Hector Jr. proved he had learned the lessons well his father has taught him over the years, defeating Hector Sr. in an exciting final round.

In winning his first race of 2014, his first at Chicago and his seventh career PSM triumph overall, 25-year-old Hector Jr. covered the 1,000-foot racetrack in 6.925 seconds at 193.93 mph, while the 55-year-old Hector Sr. had a 6.946 second run at 192.82 mph.

In a twist of irony, Arana Jr. had to give credit to his crew chief and team owner for setting up his bike for the win.

That crew chief and team owner? None other than Hector Arana Sr.

“We won this race together,” Arana Jr. said. “I wouldn’t have been able to be here without him (his father). It’s a team win and a dream to come true to be able to make it to the finals together and race against my dad.

“That’s what we’ve been striving to do for four years and now we’ve finally accomplished that. Now we’ve just got to do a brother-brother final (Junior and younger brother Adam Arana, who failed to qualify for Sunday’s final eliminations).”

In addition to it being Arana Jr.’s first final round of 2014, that also was the case for Arana Sr.

“It means that I’m going to have to go home and have to work harder,” Arana Sr. said with a laugh when asked what losing to his son meant. “It was something I was looking forward to for a long time, and to my surprise, I wasn’t nervous.

“I was relaxed, I was calm and already felt like a winner. I did my job at the starting line, but (his son) had the better bike.”

In the bigger picture, it was the ninth meeting between the father and son over the last four seasons, but all eight prior faceoffs came in earlier rounds of other races.

With Sunday’s win, Arana Jr., who is in his fourth season on the PSM national tour and was No. 2 in the 2011 season, now leads his father 5-4 in head-to-head matches.

“I’m just glad we got a Wally (victory trophy),” Hector Jr. said. “I loved coming to the final round against my dad, but it’s just not the same when you beat him, not like beating those other guys out there.

“We won, our team won and (primary sponsor) Lucas Oil won.”

Grace Arana, Hector Sr.’s wife and Hector Jr.’s mother, showed who she was pulling for afterward.

“It was exciting, but I really kind wanted my husband to win,” Grace Arena said, noting that Hector Sr. has not won a PSM race since winning five of his six career victories en route to earning the series championship in 2009.

That’s a 74-race winless streak now.

When asked if losing to his son somewhat softened the blow of remaining winless, Arana Sr. was quite clear with his answer.

“No, not even close,” he said with a smile. “But it’s a win for the team. We’ve worked hard around the clock for the last couple of weeks.

“It’s what we needed to now keep going and dig in deeper and keep going forward. It’s especially for me, what I needed, to get my confidence back and to be a winner and to get to the finals and get my Wally (race winner’s trophy).”

In a twist of irony that extended back to last week’s final between Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the elder Arana beat Matt Smith in Sunday’s quarterfinals and then Angie Smith in the semifinals to set up the historic match with his young son.

Andrew Hines holds the points lead in PSM, with a 21-point advantage over the weekend’s No. 1 qualifier, Eddie Krawiec.

Hector Arana Jr. is third in the standings, 52 points behind Hines, followed by John Hall and Matt Smith.

Hector Arana Sr. is in seventh place, 216 points behind Hines.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

Final finishing order (1-16) at the 17th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway:

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:

1.  Hector Arana Jr; 2.  Hector Arana; 3.  Shawn Gann; 4.  Angie Smith; 5.  Eddie Krawiec; 6.  Andrew Hines; 7.  Scotty Pollacheck; 8.  Matt Smith; 9.  Chaz Kennedy; 10.  Jerry Savoie; 11.  LE Tonglet; 12.  Steve Johnson; 13.  John Hall; 14.  Craig Treble; 15.  Jim Underdahl; 16.  Michael Ray.

 

Final round-by-round results from the 17th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway:

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:

ROUND ONE — Angie Smith, Buell, 6.969, 192.36 def. John Hall, Buell, 7.013, 192.52; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.915, 192.80 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 7.026, 191.57; Shawn Gann, Buell, 6.952, 192.82 def. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.955, 193.52; Hector Arana, Buell, 6.908, 194.66 def. Michael Ray, Buell, 21.800, 29.90; Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.908, 194.41 def. Craig Treble, Buell, 7.022, 190.57; Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.873, 195.36 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.976, 193.38; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.858, 194.83 def. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.973, 191.35; Matt Smith, Buell, 6.886, 195.11 def. Chaz Kennedy, Buell, 6.917, 193.10;

QUARTERFINALS — Gann, 6.985, 192.08 def. Pollacheck, 7.014, 190.16; H. Arana, 7.050, 192.93 def. M. Smith, 7.038, 191.27; Arana Jr, 6.894, 194.66 def. Hines, 6.966, 190.30; A. Smith, 6.950, 192.91 def. Krawiec, foul;

SEMIFINALS — H. Arana, 6.919, 193.82 def. A. Smith, 7.016, 191.21; Arana Jr, 6.888, 194.97 def. Gann, 6.958, 192.41;

FINAL — Arana Jr, 6.925, 193.93 def. H. Arana, 6.946, 192.82.

 

Updated point standings (top 10) following Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway:

Pro Stock Motorcycle

1.  Andrew Hines, 536; 2.  Eddie Krawiec, 515; 3.  Hector Arana Jr, 474; 4.  John Hall, 371; 5.  Matt Smith, 361; 6.  Scotty Pollacheck, 341; 7.  Hector Arana, 320; 8.  Michael Ray, 302; 9.  Angie Smith, 300; 10.  Steve Johnson, 249.

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IMSA: Sebring test notes

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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Ahead of next month’s Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, teams from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship took to Sebring International Raceway to round out a week of IMSA testing at the 3.74-mile road course.

Below are news highlights from Friday and Saturday at Sebring.

Derani Aiming for a Repeat of 2016 Victory

Tequila Patrón ESM’s Pipo Derani burst onto the American racing scene in 2016 with standout performances at the Rolex 24 and 12 Hours of Sebring to lead the ESM team to victory at both races.

His Sebring triumph was particularly impressive as he charged from fourth to first in the final ten minutes to secure the victory in one of the most thrilling finishes the race has ever seen.

Now two years removed from those successes, Derani appreciates the impact those 2016 triumphs had on his career.

“If you’re talking about sports car racing, you’re talking about Daytona, Sebring, Le Mans, Petit and those races that are known worldwide,” said the now 24-year-old Derani. “After winning Daytona and immediately coming here at Sebring – which if I’m not wrong, I was the first guy winning both on debut and the first Brazilian, probably to win back-to-back on those two races. It definitely changed my career. It opened many doors for myself and I’m really glad that it happened. Nothing comes easy. I’m really glad that ESM gave me the chance in 2016 to be in those races. Two years later, I can’t wait to win again.”

With testing now in the rearview mirror, Derani hopes he and the ESM team have found the right setup package to give them another chance at a victory.

“(Thursday) was a day that we managed to get a lot of information,” he explained. Most importantly, we ran a lot. We were out on track, and that is really good for us. Hopefully, this work is going to pay off really, really soon.”

United Autosports Continues American Odyssey at Sebring

Although two-time FIA Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso won’t be in the mix, United Autosports will be continuing the American adventure they started at January’s Rolex 24 with entries at the three other Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup events in 2018, beginning with March’s 12 Hours of Sebring.

The No. 32 Ligier JS P217 Gibson will be the team’s entrant at the remaining NAEC events and they will look to build on a fourth-place finish at the Rolex. However, while fourth looks like a strong result, team co-owner Richard Dean felt a victory may have been within their reach.

“We were a little bit disappointed in the end, even though we finished fourth because I think with three hours to go we sat in third place and the two Cadillacs were looking like they were struggling, we felt like we had an opportunity that 24-hour races can give you,” said Dean. “But everybody’s got a story, so we came out of there with a fourth place.”

Drivers Phil Hanson and Paul Di Resta returned to the team to complete the Sebring test, while Alex Brundle filled in for an ill Bruno Senna, who is scheduled to race with the team at the 12-hour enduro.

Dean emphasized, though, that Senna’s previous experience around the track should make up for his absence.

“Bruno couldn’t travel, he wasn’t well enough, and there was just no point in him getting on a plane and being ill here,” Dean asserted. “He knows the track. Of the three drivers we’ve got, he’s the one who needed the least laps around here.

Dean added that the team is beginning to get a better foothold on American soil, citing help from Andretti Autosport, which should improve their prospects for the remaining NAEC rounds.

“We feel a little bit more organized, we’ve got our own truck now, and we’ve got a little base here, and (Andretti Autosport) have been helping us out an awful lot, so our little collaboration or alliance with Andretti has certainly steadied the ship a little bit for us and helped us,” Dean said. “We’re excited to do these remaining races, and now that we’ve got Daytona experience with us, it’s definitely going to help us do a much better job in the approach for Sebring, Watkins Glen and Petit.”

Lally Samples New Continental Tire Design

Continental Tire, the current tire supplier for the Prototype and GT Daytona classes in the Weathertech Championship, rolled out a new tire design for the Sebring test, and Magnus Racing’s Andy Lally was the first to sample it on Thursday.

“Basically, we’re all going through sweeps right now and feeling things out. What does the tire feel like when you’re in qualifying mode versus full-fuel mode?” Lally said after the initial running. “There are all sorts of stuff when you get such a change like what we’ve got here. This is a relatively big change for the GT cars. Maybe for the Prototypes, it’s not as big a change, but for the GT3 cars, it’s quite a different feel on the platform. We’re just going through that.”
The new tire design comes after a Rolex 24 that was plagued with tire problems, as several teams suffered failures, especially on the left-rear, during the 24-hour race. Wayne Taylor Racing even elected to retire their No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R after suffering five tire failures.
Miller, Bechtolsheimer Sample New CJ Wilson Racing Acura NSX GT3
Marc Miller and Till Bechtolsheimer got to work quickly with new Weathertech entrant CJ Wilson Racing, with both drivers sampling their new Acura NSX GT3 on Thursday and Friday.
Miller is a veteran of GT3 machinery and has won big races before – he was a GTD class winner at the 2016 Motul Petit Le Mans. Bechtolsheimer, however, is all new to GT3 machinery, having primarily raced vintage cars along with forays into the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.
“I’ve not driven anything close to a GTD car before,” quipped Bechtolsheimer. “The first time driving it properly here at Sebring is kind of fitting because the first time I drove a car on slicks was at Sebring two years ago in moving to Continental Tire, which was at least as daunting at the time as moving into GTD now.
“The first time I turned a lap or two in the car, even though I was just trying to figure out where all the switches were and so on, I straight away felt that this is a car that’s going to be fun to drive. It’s going to take me time to build up to be on pace, but it’s a confidence-inspiring car and its yeah, it’s a lot nicer than perhaps I was expecting.”
The Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring rolls off on March 17.