CONCORD, NC – April 21, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Hector Arana Jr. didn’t start his 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock Motorcycle season the way he wanted and he’s had a month to think about it.
This weekend’s seventh annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals presented by Lowes Foods at zMAX Dragway marks the second of 16 races for the Pro Stock Motorcycle class, and a first-round loss at the opener in Gainesville is enough to provide plenty of motivation for Arana Jr.
The team has worked hard to make improvements on his Lucas Oil Buell during the time off and Arana Jr. has been anxiously awaiting the one-of-a-kind race at zMAX Dragway.
“We strive to be the best, so that helps us always stay focused,” Arana Jr. said. “That is part of the reason why we’ve been in the sport for so long. My dad (Hector Arana) has been very persistent on wanting to be the best. That’s why he was able to get a championship, and now we’re hungry for more. He wants another one, and I want many of them – not just one, but many of them.
“Gainesville was a good test session to see where we stacked up against the field. We definitely learned some things we need to work on, and now we have a direction on where we need to steer our team and to progress and move forward. We’re definitely confident and we’re excited. We found some things, and we feel really, really good about Charlotte.”
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Larry Morgan (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (PSM) were last year’s winners. The race will be televised on FOX Sports 1 (FS1), with qualifying highlights on April 23 at 10 p.m. and finals coverage on April 24 at 4:30 p.m. Arana Jr., who has 11 career wins in the class, struggled to find any sort of rhythm in Gainesville, qualifying 14th and only slipping into that spot on his last chance.
It followed with a first-round loss and then a considerable amount of time off to stew about what went wrong. But Arana Jr. and his team worked quickly to find solutions and they believe they’ve found something heading into the Four-Wide Nationals.
“We feel like we figured out some issues we had, so hopefully we’ll be back on top and running strong,” said Arana Jr., who won twice in 2015 and finished fifth in the points standings. “We’ll do our best and see what happens this weekend. We definitely have what it takes. We just had a little mishap with some parts. That’s just part of racing. Hopefully, we’ve been able to fix everything that was wrong, and we’ll be good to go. We feel pretty confident.”
That confidence is helped by Arana Jr.’s success at the unique race that will pit four motorcycles going down the track at one time. It provides a healthy challenge but it’s a worthwhile one in the eyes of Arana Jr. He won the event in 2013 and advanced to the final group of four a year ago, setting both ends of the track record during the weekend, but Arana Jr. wasn’t keen on giving out too many secrets for tackling the challenges the race presents.
“The only thing I can say is you’ve got to stay relaxed and stay focused,” said Arana Jr., who qualified No. 1 at the race last year. “I can’t give away all my secrets, or I’ll be helping out the competition!”
But Arana Jr. did note just how important it is to be locked in at all times throughout the weekend. “I just focus on what I do at a regular race and you just have some extra lights,” Arana Jr. said. “You have to pay a little more attention to the other two riders who are racing with you.”
Arana Jr. will also have to deal with a massive 25-bike field at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, including Hines, who has two wins at the race and is the two-time defending world champion in the class. Other challengers include Eddie Krawiec, who won in Gainesville, two-time world champion Matt Smith, LE Tonglet, Chip Ellis and Angelle Sampey.
Arana Jr. loves that challenge but he also enjoys the level and amount of competition in the class.
“Everyone has really stepped up their game,” Arana Jr. “I didn’t get (qualified) until the last run in Gainesville, and Matt Smith didn’t get in, so it’s a tough field. It’s good for the sport, and it shows that our class is strong. Hopefully people see that we’re the strongest pro class in NHRA, as far as our vehicle count. That’s exciting and it’s good for us.”
Reigning Top Fuel champion Brown, who won the most recent race in Las Vegas, will be looking for his third consecutive victory at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. J.R. Todd, who set the 3.713-second track record at the race last year, season-opening Winternationals winner Steve Torrence, eight-time world champ Tony Schumacher, recent first-time winners Leah Pritchett and Brittany Force, Doug Kalitta and Clay Millican are among the top contenders for the Wally trophy.
In Funny Car, Beckman ended his 54-race winless streak in Funny Car with his victory last year. The victory provided the momentum he needed to earn seven wins in the season and finish runner-up behind Del Worsham. Winternationals winner Ron Capps, two-time Four-Wide Nationals winner and current points leader Robert Hight, Courtney Force, John Force, Tim Wilkerson and Alexis DeJoria, who won in Las Vegas, will try to prevent Beckman from a second straight victory.
In Pro Stock, Morgan pulled off an upset win over Greg Anderson in Charlotte last year. Anderson is riding some early season momentum with two wins this season. His teammate, Jason Line, also has two wins and is the current points leader. Defending world champ Erica Enders, who is looking for her first Four-Wide victory, will also be a favorite, along with rising star Bo Butner, Vincent Nobile, last year’s top rookie Drew Skillman, Alex Laughlin, Shane Gray, 2012 champ Allen Johnson and Phoenix runner-up Chris McGaha.
The sleek new Pro Stock cars feature fuel-injected engines, shorter wheelie bars, flat hoods and a 10,500 RPM rev-limiter.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and enjoy some cherished face time with their favorite NHRA drivers.
The NHRA Four-Wide Nationals presented by Lowes Foods will also feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. on Friday, April 22 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, April 23, at 2 and 4 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 12 p.m. on Sunday, April 24.
Be a part of the action all weekend with a Three-Day Pass to the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals starting at $107.
Tickets for children 13 and under are free with any paid adult ticket; to purchase general admission or reserved seats please visit www.zMAXDragway.com or call the box office at (800) 455-FANS (3267). For more information about NHRA, please visit www.NHRA.com.
NHRA FOUR-WIDE NATIONALS FACT SHEET
WHAT: Seventh annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, the fifth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drivers in four categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – earn points leading to 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships.
WHERE: zMAX Dragway- Track is located on Hwy 29 off I-85 at exit 49 (Speedway Blvd.) in the Concord, N.C. area.
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, April 22-24
COURSE: All-concrete four-wide championship dragstrip at an elevation of 630 feet. Track direction is southwest to northeast.
FORMAT: Qualifying sessions and elimination rounds will be conducted using four lanes in all Mello Yello Series classes; Lanes will be identified from left to right facing downtrack as 1-4; The standard Friday qualifying procedure of a top 12 format will not be in use; Two Christmas trees will be in use, one between each two lanes; The Compulink Autostart system will continue to be utilized and it will not activate until all four vehicles are pre-staged and one vehicle has staged; The ladder structure will feature Race A: qualifiers 1, 8, 9, 16, Race B: qualifiers 4, 5, 12, 13, Race C: qualifiers 2, 7, 10, 15, and Race D: qualifiers 3, 6, 11, 14; Race A and Race B will be on one side of the ladder, while Race C and Race D will be on the other; Lane choice for eliminations goes to the driver with the quickest E.T., then the second-quickest, and so on; The first two drivers in each elimination round to cross the finish line advance to the second round and final; In the final round, teams will finish in the order they cross the finish line (barring any red-light starts), with winner, runner-up and two semifinalists in that order.
FRIDAY, April 22 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 4:30 and 6:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, April 23 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 2 and 4 p.m.
SUNDAY, April 24 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10:30 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at noon
Saturday, April 23, Fox Sports 1 (FS1) will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 10 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, April 24, FS1 will televise three hours of finals coverage at 4:30 p.m. (ET).
2015 EVENT WINNERS: Antron Brown, Top Fuel; Jack Beckman, Funny Car; Larry Morgan, Pro Stock; Andrew Hines, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
MOST VICTORIES: Antron Brown, 2, TF; Spencer Massey, 2, TF; Jack Beckman, 2, FC; Robert Hight, 2, FC; Greg Anderson, 2, PS; Mike Edwards, 2, PS; Andrew Hines, 2, PSM.
Top Fuel – 3.713 sec. by J.R. Todd, March ’15; 332.18 mph by Spencer Massey, April ’12.
Funny Car – 3.971 sec. by Tommy Johnson Jr., Sept. ’15; 322.27 mph by Matt Hagan, Sept. ’11.
Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15; 215.48 mph by Greg Anderson, March ’15.
Pro Stock Motorcycle – 6.794 sec. and 199.88 mph by Hector Arana Jr., March ’15.
Top Fuel – 3.680 sec. by Antron Brown, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.
Funny Car – 3.879 sec. by Jack Beckman, March ‘16, Gainesville, Fla.; 331.45 mph by Matt Hagan, Nov. ’15, Pomona, Calif.
Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ‘14, Englishtown N.J.
PS Motorcycle – 6.728 sec. by Andrew Hines, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 199.88 mph by Hector Arana Jr., March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.
TICKETS: Order tickets by phone at (800) 455-FANS. Tickets also are available online at www.zmaxdragway.com.
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS STANDINGS
GLENDORA, CA – Point standings following the fourth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series –
1. Brittany Force, 307; 2. Antron Brown, 269; 3. Doug Kalitta, 267; 4. Steve Torrence, 249; 5. Clay Millican, 242; 6. J.R. Todd, 229; 7. Dave Connolly, 217; 8. Terry McMillen, 209; 9. Tony Schumacher, 190; 10. Leah Pritchett, 188.
1. Robert Hight, 341; 2. John Force, 294; 3. Ron Capps, 289; 4. Del Worsham, 283; 5. Jack Beckman, 271; 6. Courtney Force, 265; 7. Chad Head, 236; 8. Alexis DeJoria, 233; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 221; 10. Matt Hagan, 150.
1. Jason Line, 463; 2. Greg Anderson, 415; 3. Bo Butner, 331; 4. Drew Skillman, 264; 5. Chris McGaha, 214; 6. Allen Johnson, 212; 7. Jeg Coughlin, 191; 8. Vincent Nobile, 175; 9. Erica Enders, 171; 10. Alex Laughlin, 154.
Pro Stock Motorcycle:
1. Eddie Krawiec, 129; 2. Hector Arana, 99; 3. Andrew Hines, 79; 4. LE Tonglet, 74; 5. Chip Ellis, 62; 6. (tie) Michael Ray, 52; Jerry Savoie, 52; Jim Underdahl, 52; 9. Angelle Sampey, 35; 10. (tie) Scotty Pollacheck, 33. Melissa Surber, 33.