Arana Brothers Team Up On Dad At SpringNationals

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, April 28 2013

Hector Arana Jr. beat out his father in qualifying at Baytown. (File photo courtesy of the Mello Yello NHRA Drag Racing Series)

Brothers Hector Jr. and Adam Arana upstaged their championship-winning father at Royal Purple Raceway Saturday, adding a family angle to the Pro Stock Motorcycle class at the rain-plagued 26th annual O’Reilly NHRA SpringNationals in Baytown, Texas.

Arana Jr. secured his second consecutive No. 1 qualifying position of the season and 12th of his career with a quarter-mile pass of 6.876-seconds at 195.39 mph aboard his Lucas Oil Buell. Meanwhile, MAVTV Buell rider Adam Arana one-upped dad Hector Sr. for the first time, earning the No. 7 position with a career-best pass of 6.919-seconds and 194.24 mph.

“It would’ve been better if I was higher up than where I am,” said Adam, a 21-year-old NHRA rookie. “We all want each other to do the best. But I would’ve been happier to have been third, even if he (dad) had outqualified me.”

Persistent rain showers forced NHRA officials to cancel the majority of Saturday’s scheduled two rounds of qualifying. The only racing in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series saw one round of Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying and 12 Pro Stock cars make an attempt before the rain became steady.

Weather permitting, Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car) and Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) will start Sunday’s 11 a.m. eliminations as respective No. 1 qualifiers. ESPN2’s exclusive live, three-hour telecast will begin at 2 p.m. (EDT).

Adam Arana now has improved his qualifying spot during each of the season’s three PSM races, earning the 12th position in Gainesville, Fla., eighth in Concord, N.C., and seventh in this event near Houston.

“I feel good,” Adam said. “Every race I keep improving my qualifying. I’m excited for (Sunday). I messed up on that last run, so we left some stuff on the table. We’re going to run better and hopefully get my first round-win. The bike’s running strong. It’s mean. It’s got a lot of pep.”

Adam will line up against Angie Smith in the first round. Smith qualified ninth at 6.929-seconds and 191.16 mph. Hector Jr. will face Shawn Gann in Round 1 in search of his third straight win of 2013.

“I do have a lot of confidence after winning those (opening) two races,” said Arana Jr., referring to the national events in Florida and North Carolina. “Right now, I don’t feel as tense as I normally would. I’m very relaxed and that makes riding a lot easier. I was hoping to improve in the third session but we missed the tune-up a bit. We were really looking forward to the last run because we wanted to get some data. The weather also changed and all that rain will make the track tighten up.”

Hector Sr. posted a best lap of 6.926-seconds at 193.07 mph, with all three of his qualifying passes within 0.019-seconds.

“I definitely want to be faster,” said Hector Sr., the 2009 world champion. “I’m a little frustrated because I found a couple of little things, but the bike didn’t respond to those changes. It’s like it doesn’t like what I’m doing. It’s a new motor, and we just have to figure out what it really wants. We were hoping we could get this last run in and see if it was going to work or not.” Hector has drawn No. 9 qualifier Steve Johnson (6.929-seconds at 194.30 mph) in the first round.

Scotty Pollacheck qualified second and will race Chip Ellis in a matchup of Buell riders. Third-place qualifier Andrew Hines, a three-time world champion, will try to win his fourth consecutive title at this event as he faces teammate and three-time/reigning world champ Eddie Krawiec in a very rare all-Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson first-round pairing.

In Top fuel, Kalitta claimed his third No. 1 qualifying position of the year with his Friday run of 3.791-seconds at 321.65 mph in the Mac Tools dragster. Kalitta, who claimed his third pole at Royal Purple Raceway, will face Troy Buff in the opening round as he tries to earn his first win since the 2010 season and second at the facility.

“This is our third low-qualifier and now we can see if we can hopefully get to the final and deliver a win,” Kalitta said. “This rain will clean the track off and that should change our setup a bit. I’m sure the track will be good but I can tell you that we probably won’t be the first pair out. We have a good car and I would have liked to see what we could have done today. But we’re solidly in the field and so are all of our team cars so we didn’t have to deal with (the possibility of not qualifying). We’re ready to go.”

Top Fuel point-leader Tony Schumacher, a seven-time world champion, qualified 14th and will face Shawn Langdon in the opening round. Reigning world champion Antron Brown, currently second in points to his Don Schumacher Racing teammate, will race Bob Vandergriff Jr. in the first round. Rookie Brittany Force of John Force Racing failed to qualify for eliminations for the first time.

In Funny Car, Pedregon raced his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry to his third No. 1 qualifying position on the strength of Friday’s 4.086-second pass at 310.41 mph. Pedregon, who has two career wins and nine poles at RPR, will face Terry Haddock in the first round.

“When I heard them say nine No. 1s in Houston, that stands out,” said Pedregon, a two-time world champion. “I just wish we had that many wins here. When I got up in the morning and saw that the forecast was for about 30 to 40 percent (rain), I thought that this would be no big deal. But it ended up being 100 percent later in the day, and that was it. Running under the cloud cover would have been ideal for us. I think you would have seen a 4.06 or a 4.07.”

Other notable first-round matchups include DSR teammates Matt Hagan, the 2011 world champion, and Ron Capps squaring-off in their Dodge Chargers. Hagan currently leads the Funny Car points with Capps in fifth. Courtney Force and Alexis DeJoria will go head-to-head for the third time in their careers, while No. 2 qualifier Tim Wilkerson will meet former Top Fuel world champion Del Worsham in another pivotal matchup.

In Pro Stock, Coughlin secured his first No. 1 position in two years by powering his JEGS.com /Mopar Dodge Avenger to a quarter-mile performance of 6.569-seconds at 211.20 mph to claim the 18th pole of his career. His first round opponent will be Steve Kent, as Coughlin looks for his fifth career win at RPR.

“I think this speaks volumes about the operation of Roy and Allen Johnson, which we decided to team up with at the end of last year,” said Coughlin, a four-time world champion. “We communicate with them very well, along with Vincent Nobile, who also uses Roy Johnson (Hemi) engines. To be No. 1 in qualifying for the first time in two years is just fantastic.”

Current point-leader Mike Edwards, the 2009 world champion who came into this event riding a five-race pole qualifying streak, will start third and face Greg Stanfield in the opening round. Houston area natives Erica Enders-Stevens and Rodger Brogdon both qualified solidly. Enders-Stevens will race Larry Morgan, while Brogdon will take on reigning world champion Allen Johnson in the first round.

Sunday’s first-round elimination pairings for the 26th annual O’Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Royal Purple Raceway, sixth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings:

Top Fuel _ 1. Doug Kalitta, 3.791 seconds, 321.65 mph vs. 16. Troy Buff, 4.060, 258.32; 2. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.794, 325.22 vs. 15. J.R. Todd, 3.965, 298.54; 3. Shawn Langdon, 3.794, 323.19 vs. 14. Tony Schumacher, 3.906, 316.30; 4. Antron Brown, 3.816, 314.83 vs. 13. Bob Vandergriff Jr., 3.893, 313.95; 5. Larry Dixon, 3.819, 322.04 vs. 12. T.J. Zizzo, 3.884, 316.30; 6. David Grubnic, 3.823, 318.69 vs. 11. Terry McMillen, 3.874, 326.71; 7. Spencer Massey, 3.826, 316.90 vs. 10. Brandon Bernstein, 3.866, 318.77; 8. Steve Torrence, 3.833, 317.42 vs. 9. Morgan Lucas, 3.841, 311.41.

Did Not Qualify _ 17. Clay Millican, 4.234, 201.52; 18. Brittany Force, 4.358, 188.70; 19. Scott Palmer, 4.437, 188.12.

Funny Car _ 1. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.086, 310.41 vs. 16. Terry Haddock, Dodge Stratus, 5.280, 146.15; 2. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.103, 307.58 vs. 15. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.768, 226.05; 3. Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.117, 309.56 vs. 14. Johnny Gray, Dodge Charger, 4.544, 227.65; 4. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.117, 304.39 vs. 13. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.322, 252.47; 5. Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.123, 304.46 vs. 12. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.217, 297.55; 6. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.127, 309.13 vs. 11. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.201, 293.79; 7. John Force, Mustang, 4.151, 305.42 vs. 10. Blake Alexander, Charger, 4.189, 296.83; 8. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.154, 307.72 vs. 9. Jeff Arend, Charger, 4.189, 298.80.

Did Not Qualify _ 17. Todd Simpson, 6.166, 108.62; 18. Jon Capps, 15.549, 32.32.

Pro Stock _ 1. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Dodge Avenger, 6.569, 211.20 vs. 16. Steve Kent, Pontiac GXP, 6.648, 209.49; 2. Shane Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.570, 211.59 vs. 15. Chris McGaha, Avenger, 6.627, 209.92; 3. Mike Edwards, Camaro, 6.572, 212.09 vs. 14. Greg Stanfield, Camaro, 6.620, 209.17; 4. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.572, 212.03 vs. 13. Matt Hartford, Avenger, 6.620, 210.01; 5. Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.574, 210.80 vs. 12. Larry Morgan, Ford Mustang, 6.607, 210.28; 6. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.579, 211.46 vs. 11. Vincent Nobile, Avenger, 6.606, 210.01; 7. Allen Johnson, Avenger, 6.580, 211.49 vs. 10. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.600, 210.41; 8. V. Gaines, Avenger, 6.590, 210.87 vs. 9. Rickie Jones, Camaro, 6.597, 211.46.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.876, 195.39 vs. 16. Shawn Gann, Buell, 6.960, 192.63; 2. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.896, 191.67 vs. 15. Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.952, 192.00; 3. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.904, 193.49 vs. 14. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.947, 191.21; 4. John Hall, Buell, 6.906, 191.16 vs. 13. Katie Sullivan, Suzuki, 6.938, 194.16; 5. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.911, 193.40 vs. 12. Matt Smith, Buell, 6.936, 192.41; 6. Michael Ray, Buell, 6.913, 193.60 vs. 11. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.934, 193.71; 7. Adam Arana, Buell, 6.919, 194.24 vs. 10. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.929, 191.16; 8. Hector Arana Sr., Buell, 6.926, 193.24 vs. 9. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.929, 194.88.

Did Not Qualify _ 17. Mike Berry, 6.965, 191.87; 18. Freddie Camarena, 7.042, 190.16; 19. Michael Phillips, 7.052, 189.60; 20. Joe DeSantis, 7.070, 187.39; 21. Redell Harris, 7.071, 187.44; 22. James Surber, 7.117, 187.29; 23. David Barron, 7.816, 183.54.

Officials were forced to cancel the final round of qualifying for the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series on Saturday due to persistent afternoon rain showers at RPR.

Mike Castellana will start the third of 10 events as No. 1 qualifier in his Al-Anabi Racing ’68 Camaro when eliminations begin on Sunday. His 5.880-second pass at 244.56 mph earned his second pole of the season and sixth of his career. His first round opponent will be Jeffrey Cummins Jr.

Point-leader Von Smith qualified his Camaro eighth and will face defending series champion Troy Coughlin in his JEGS.com Corvette. Danny Rowe will drive his Agave Underground Tequila Pro Mod in a first round meeting with Chip King.

Sunday’s first-round Pro Mod pairings:

1. Mike Castellana, Chevy Camaro, 5.880, 244.56 vs. 14. Jeffrey Cummins Jr., Camaro, 9.786, 93.08; 2. Danny Rowe, Camaro, 5.930, 246.53 vs. 13. Chip King, Dodge Daytona, 6.499, 236.55; 3. Mike Janis, Camaro, 5.960, 244.25 vs. 12. Chris Juliano, Ford Mustang, 6.246, 220.15; 4. Mike Knowles, Camaro, 5.964, 244.34 vs. 11. Clint Satterfield, Camaro, 6.208, 237.30; 5. Rickie Smith, Camaro, 5.964, 242.71 vs. 10. Steve Matusek, Mustang, 6.060, 246.48; 6. Pete Farber, Daytona, 5.966, 246.12 vs. 9. Kenny Lang, Chevy Corvette, 5.983, 245.99; 7. Troy Coughlin, Corvette, 5.979, 248.71 vs. 8. Von Smith, Camaro, 5.979, 244.65.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, April 28 2013
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