MADISON, IL – September 22, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Hector Arana Sr. would gladly take a repeat of what happened a year ago at Gateway Motorsports Park, even if the outcome remains the same at this weekend’s fifth annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals.
Arana fell to his son, Hector Arana Jr., in a thrilling Pro Stock Motorcycle final in 2015 in St. Louis and an all-Arana final round this season would be the ideal playoff boost for both riders. Arana Sr. lost to his son in the first round of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship opener last weekend in Charlotte, N.C., and needs at least a replay of last year’s event in St. Louis to stay in the championship hunt.
“That was an excellent weekend,” said Arana, who is eighth in the points standings. “(Son) Adam was there, (daughter) Abby was there, the whole family was together, so I was happy, I was more relaxed. Of course we went to the finals and the outcome wasn’t what I wanted, but if we would have another weekend like that, I’d be happy.”
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Del Worsham (Funny Car), Drew Skillman (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1 for the first time. The race is the second of six in the NHRA’s playoff race and Arana Sr. still has hopes of gaining his second world championship in the highly-competitive class.
It’s been a rigorous process for Arana this season, as he’s battled through an array of issues on his Lucas Oil Buell. It’s led to first-round losses at four of the past five races, but the veteran standout saw some hope last weekend despite the early exit.
“I’ve been working hard on this and I’ve finally started to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Arana, who has seven career wins. “I’m feeling good because I’m making changes and I see the response. We’re going the right way. We’re picking up the pace. You shouldn’t think ahead, but on the other hand you do because we have to be prepared if something goes wrong so we are able to solve the problem right then and there.”
Arana’s season started in fine fashion with a runner-up finish at Gainesville, Fla., and he will try to recreate that type of result this weekend in St. Louis, but sitting 153 points back of leader Andrew Hines, who has five wins this year while hunting for a third straight world championship, Arana knows something big needs to happen soon.
Arana will also have to get by the likes of Charlotte winner Chip Ellis, three-time world champion Angelle Sampey and Hines’ teammate Eddie Krawiec, but Arana insists his only concern at Gateway Motorsports Park will be his own bike.
“I just need to focus on the bike and not worry about the points,” Arana said. “Everyone says that, but if we do that and get the bike to run fast like I like to, then the points will be there for us. I think we have a good shot at winning the championship. The program is coming around, we are picking up the pace, so that’s good. I’m just going to look at it one race at a time because if we focus on the championship, all of those races, we can lose sight of it, and we don’t want to do that.”
Top Fuel points leader Antron Brown started his title defense with the Charlotte victory and has four straight St. Louis wins. Doug Kalitta, eight-time world champ Tony Schumacher and Steve Torrence will try to prevent Brown’s fifth consecutive victory.
In Funny Car, 16-time world champion John Force won the Countdown opener to spur his hopes of catching points leader Ron Capps, who has five wins in 2016. Worsham’s victory a year ago was one of four Countdown wins en route to the world championship.
Skillman earned his first Pro Stock victory last year and will try to stop the dominant season of points leader Jason Line, who won in Charlotte to push his win total to eight.
The AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals will also feature competition in the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series and the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. As always, fans can 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.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 2:45 and 5:15 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 23, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Sept. 24, at 1:45 and 4:15 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 25.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 855-RACE-TIK (722-3845). Tickets are available online at www.gatewaymsp.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. For more info, visit www.NHRA.com.
AAA INSURANCE NHRA MIDWEST NATIONALS FACT SHEET
WHAT: Fifth annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, the 20th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and the second of six races in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs. 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: Gateway Motorsports Park, Madison, Ill. – located five minutes from downtown St. Louis at the intersection of Interstates 55/70 and Ill. Route 203 (Exit 4).
COURSE: Championship drag strip; Track elevation is 445 feet above sea level; Track direction is south to north.
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, Sept. 23-25
FRIDAY, Sept. 23 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 2:15 p.m. and 4:45 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 2:45 and 5:15 p.m.
SATURDAY, Sept. 24 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 1 p.m.; first round of eliminations at 3:45 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 1:45 p.m. and 4:15 p.m.
SUNDAY, Sept. 25 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Friday, Sept. 23, FS1 will televise an hour of live qualifying coverage at 7 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, Sept. 25, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 2 a.m. (ET).
Sunday, Sept. 25, FS1 will televise three hours of live finals coverage starting at 2 p.m. (ET).
2015 EVENT WINNERS: Antron Brown, Top Fuel; Del Worsham, Funny Car; Drew Skillman, Pro Stock; Hector Arana Jr., Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Top Fuel – 3.718 sec. by Steve Torrence, Sept. ‘15; 329.99 mph by Dave Connolly, Sept. ‘15
Funny Car – 3.883 sec. and 330.47 mph by Matt Hagan, Sept. ‘15
Pro Stock – 6.492 sec. by Greg Anderson, Sept. ’15; 213.47 mph by Jason Line, Sept. ‘12
PS Motorcycle – 6.796 sec. and 198.58 mph by Hector Arana, Sept. ‘13
Top Fuel – 3.671 sec. by Steve Torrence, July ’16, Sonoma, Calif.; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.
Funny Car – 3.822 by Matt Hagan, Aug. ’16, Brainerd, Minn.; 335.57 mph by Hagan, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.
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 855-RACE-TIK (855-722-3845). Tickets also are available online at www.gatewaymsp.com.
GLENDORA, CA — Point standings (top 10) following the ninth annual NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway, the 19th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and first of six rounds in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs –
1. Antron Brown, 2,226; 2. Doug Kalitta, 2,184; 3. Steve Torrence, 2,126; 4. Brittany Force, 2,110; 5. Tony Schumacher, 2,099; 6. J.R. Todd, 2,074; 7. Shawn Langdon, 2,067; 8. Leah Pritchett, 2,054; 9. Clay Millican, 2,052; 10. Richie Crampton, 2,046.
1. Ron Capps, 2,194; 2. Del Worsham, 2,152; 3. John Force, 2,144; 4. Tommy Johnson Jr., 2,132; 5. Matt Hagan, 2,122; 6. Courtney Force, 2,094; 7. Robert Hight, 2,093; 8. Jack Beckman, 2,084; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 2,067; 10. Alexis DeJoria, 2,036.
1. Jason Line, 2,233; 2. Greg Anderson, 2,183; 3. Vincent Nobile, 2,129; 4. Bo Butner, 2,123; 5. Allen Johnson, 2,095; 6. Chris McGaha, 2,082; 7. Shane Gray, 2,081; 8. Drew Skillman, 2,073; 9. Jeg Coughlin, 2,052; 10. Erica Enders, 2,020.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
1. Andrew Hines, 2,205; 2. Chip Ellis, 2,161; 3. Angelle Sampey, 2,156; 4. Eddie Krawiec, 2,120; 5. LE Tonglet, 2,106; 6. Jerry Savoie, 2,099; 7. Hector Arana Jr, 2,083; 8. Hector Arana, 2,052; 9. Matt Smith, 2,042; 10. Cory Reed, 2,032.
About National Hot Rod Association
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 23 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates five racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville in Florida; National Trail Raceway in Ohio; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Source: National Hot Rod Association