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.

 

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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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Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”