The fight for the Pro Stock Motorcycle championship heads to Texas Motorplex for the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals this weekend, and Lucas Oil Buell rider Hector Arana Jr. is ready to keep up the offensive.
Arana increased his lead to 33 points after a semifinal finish in Charlotte last weekend, but he knows that every round is crucial, even in the second of six Countdown to the Championship races.
"Definitely the points matter," Arana said. "We've got to stay focused and still take things one round at a time. The rounds really count and they're all important. In eliminations there are some rounds that are bigger than others. Every round that you can go further, it's going to be awesome."
Arana will continue to focus on the run in front of him, whether that be in qualifying or eliminations, but he knows winning the championship won't likely be accomplished by first-round defeats.
"That's what we need to do: We need to go rounds," Arana said. "We can't go out in the first round, and we really can't go out in the second round. We have to go rounds. It's going to be tough and it's also going to be fun and exciting, but we're still going to focus on one round at a time."
Arana increased his lead in Charlotte thanks to racing past the second round, where second-place Matt Smith was eliminated, but Smith was also the No. 1 qualifier and earned the qualifying points that Arana wants.
"Those are very important," Arana said. "In Charlotte I went one round further than Matt, but I only increased my lead by three points. That's because he gained so many points in qualifying and also got some extra points by qualifying No. 1.
"If I could've been in his position and gotten all of those points in qualifying and then gone rounds further, we would've been a lot better off."
Qualifying has been one of Arana's strong points this season, as he has two No. 1 qualifiers in addition to starting eliminations fourth or better in eight of the 11 races this season. But a new engine combination proved recalcitrant in Charlotte and the team, led by crew chief Dan Gonzalez, mistakenly tuned off some bad information. The problem, however, was found and Arana and the team are heading in the right direction again.
"We have good notes from Dallas from last year," Arana said. "We always seem to run strong there. We'll take our best tune-up and go from there. We'll cross our fingers and hope for the best."
Qualifying for the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals gets under way at 2:15 p.m. CDT on Friday from Texas Motorplex and continues at 11:15 a.m. on Saturday. Eliminations will be at 11 a.m. on Sunday. ESPN News will broadcast the qualifying show at 11:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday and ESPN2 will air the eliminations show at 8:30 p.m. on Sunday.