LAS VEGAS (October 30, 2022) - If the Wally was given out after qualifying, Hector Arana Jr. would have been passed up for the 14 drivers who were faster on Friday and Saturday. Sunday was a vastly different story.
Hector Arana Jr. backed up his Dallas winning performance with a second-straight victory in Las Vegas. Arana Jr. has raced just a handful of times in the 2022 season but he’s made a positive impact each time he’s raced his Buell V-twin, which is tuned by his father, 2009 world champ Hector Arana Sr.
Arana accomplished a rare feat when came from the No. 15 qualifying spot to the final where he beat low qualifier Matt Smith on a holeshot, 6.686 to 6.682. Arana’s tough road to the final included wins against Vance & Hines teammates Angelle Sampey and Eddie Krawiec as well as Angie Smith in the semifinals.
“It was a fight just to get here,” said Arana Jr. “Dallas was supposed to be out last race. We didn’t have the funding to keep going but we got a deal with Steve Bryson and GETTRX and that made it possible to get to the last two races. Honestly, we weren’t prepared. We had to go home and rebuild engines after Dallas and then we had trouble on the road and had to borrow a motor home.
“I struggled a little in qualifying, but we had a back-up plan for race day. I did win a couple of races on holeshots but you’ve got to have the pace to get there and we had that. I have a lot of confidence right now. Can’t wait to go to Pomona and keep going. We did have a long layoff so I might have been a little rusty before Dallas but we found our groove pretty quickly. We’ve been out here a long time so I knew what we needed to do to get results. I took out both the Vance & Hines bikes and both Smith [Matt Smith Racing] bikes and that’s never easy. Now, our mission is to get the funding we need to come back next year.”
The news wasn’t all by for Matt Smith, who has not officially wrapped up his sixth NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle title, but it’s looking very promising after he rode his Denso Buell to the final round. Smith dominated until the final round and will now carry a sizable 104-point lead into the season-ending Auto Club Finals in Pomona meaning he needs to simply qualify and win the first two rounds of eliminations to secure the title.
Smith set the Las Vegas track record twice in qualifying, first on Friday with a 6.798 and then again on Saturday at 6.785 to win the pole for the first time in his career. Smith settled into a comfortable groove on race day with a string of 6.8-second runs in his wins against Katie Justice, Chip Ellis, and Jerry Savoie.
The conclusion of the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season take place Nov. 11-13 with the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Pomona, California.
See the recap by NHRA National Dragster staff:
See Sundays photo gallery from NHRA National Dragster staff:
Check out the points after Las Vegas:
Content: NHRA / RPM
Photo: NHRA / RPM / Hector Arana Jr