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Lucas Oil pro Hector Arana Sr. starts 2016 with runner-up finish in Gatornationals

Lucas Oil pro Hector Arana Sr. starts 2016 with runner-up finish in Gatornationals

Gainesville, Florida (March 20, 2016) - Lucas Oil Buell rider Hector Arana Sr. started the 2016 Pro Stock Motorcycle season as well as possible -- well, almost.

Arana raced to the final round of the NHRA Gatornationals on Sunday at Gainesville Raceway before falling to Eddie Krawiec.

"We've been blessed to start the season by going to the finals," Arana said. "It's past my expectations because when we left the shop last week, we weren't ready. We assembled the motors at the last minute because we were waiting for parts, so to come here and go this far, it's great."

The final round was the 23rd of his career, and it was his 16th career runner-up finish. Arana left first with a .032-second reaction time, but Krawiec had the bike to beat all weekend, and he outran Arana with a pass of 6.820 seconds at 198.23 mph. Arana, meanwhile, had a run of 6.920 at 196.44 mph.

Arana's riding matched the performance of his Lucas Oil bike, as he left first on three of his four opponents, including an .011 light in the semifinals and a .018 light in the second round.

"Over the off-season, I didn't even have one chance to sit on the bike and practice or look at the Tree," Arana said. "The main thing is to stay calm and hit the Tree, and that was my main focus. I didn't have the opportunity to do it once in the off-season, but I'm happy with the overall performance.

"We've got to go and work hard because I need the same thing for (son) Hector (Arana Jr.) and his bike."

While Hector Jr. struggled this weekend, his dad made progress. Arana qualified No. 2 with a stellar pass in the final qualifying session and then continued that speed throughout Sunday.

He made a run of 6.820 at 196.39 mph in the first round to beat Mike Berry (6.958 at 192.58) and then took out Michael Ray with a pass of 6.879 at 196.56 mph (to Ray's 6.931 at 195.79 mph).

Both Arana and L.E. Tonglet were good on the Tree in the semi's, as Tonglet had a .017 light, but Arana's bike was a tick quicker, 6.869 at 196.44 mph to Tonglet's 6.888 at 195.00 mph.

Those runs were a far cry from Friday's qualifying sessions, where Arana didn't make the best runs.

"We were calm," Arana said. "In the beginning, we were behind the eight ball because I missed the first qualifying run, so there goes one clutch tune-up. Then, when Hector wasn't in in the third round, I was all worried and I made another mistake, so I lost two runs.

"But when he got in, I was happy and forgot about everything else. From then on, it seems like everything came together and the pressure was less."

And Arana raced without pressure on Sunday, too.

"I did my job here," Arana said. "I'm going to hold my head up. We just have to go to work and find more. That's the only way you're going to stay ahead of the game, keep on working."