NHRA: Pro Stock Motorcycle at Las Vegas

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NHRA Mello Yellow drag racing series

NHRA Toyota Nationals
The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
October 25-28, 2018

Pro Stock Motorcycle

Round 1 Eliminations: Matt Smith got past LE Tonglet with a .007-second margin of victory that started with a slight jump on the starting line. That expands Smith’s grip on the Pro Stock Motorcycle lead and badly hurts Tonglet’s chances of winning his second championship. The other contenders (looking at you Hector Arana Jr. and Eddie Krawiec) got victories and will move into the second round of action. That should make for a very exciting round of racing for fans, so don’t miss out. Smith will battle Arana in must-see racing – and must-win racing for Arana.

Round 2 Eliminations: Hector Arana Jr. kept his championship chase alive by defeating Matt Smith in the second round of action. Smith turned on the red light by hitting the throttle .015 second early. That puts Arana 102 points behind Smith with a chance to get as close as 62 points if he goes on to win the race. First, he has to take down Andrew Hines on one side of the ladder while his father, Hector Arana Sr., takes on Eddie Krawiec on the other side. Krawiec can take over the Pro Stock Motorcycle lead if he wins the contest.

Round 3 Eliminations:Eddie Krawiec put himself in an excellent position by defeating Hector Arana in the semifinals. He can now take over the Pro Stock Motorcycle lead if he defeats Hector Arana Jr. in the final round of eliminations – the Lucas Oil TV rider has other ideas, of course. If Arana gets the win he will move within 62 points of current leader Matt Smith. Regardless, the final should be an excellent battle and will set the scene for a killer racer in Pomona for the Auto Club NHRA Finals. Krawiec will have lane choice in the final round.

Round 4 Eliminations: Hector Arana Jr. continued his ride up the standings with a huge win against Eddie Krawiec. He made his best run of the weekend to put himself within striking distance of Matt Smith. Arana will enter the final race of the season 62 points behind the leader.

 

ELIMINATIONS ROUND 1
LANEDRIVERRT60 FT330 FT660 FT660 FT MPH1000 FTETMPH
WINAngelle Sampey0.0251.0772.8874.435157.825.7976.973190
Angie Smith0.0031.0692.8764.437152.626.0077.638128.24
12:18 p.m. Weather conditions: air temperature 88 degrees, relative humidity 21 percent, barometer 27.93 inches, adjusted altitude 4,675 feet, track temperature 101 degrees. This is the 196th start for Angie Smith. Angelle Sampey took the title at this race in 2002. She starts the day with 602 rounds of racing and is only the 3rd Pro Stock Motorcycle racer to compete in 600 or more rounds (A. Hines, Steve Johnson). She is 9 - 1 in round 1 here. This is the 7th time these two have met and it's the 6th time it has happened in the first round. Smith gets out of the gate first and starts pulling away. She extends her lead to the 330 foot mark, then Sampey starts making up ground. Smith has problems late in the run and she sits up on the bike. Sampey goes around Smith and takes the stripe for the win. Angelle Sampey's incremental margins (negative if behind): 60ft(-0.030), 330 ft(-0.033), 660ft(-0.020), 1,000ft(0.188). MOV: 0.6438 seconds (more than 100 feet).
WINMatt Smith0.0151.0682.894.435158.655.7776.923195.62
LE Tonglet0.0191.0632.8824.422158.975.7686.926193.24
Matt Smith was the 2013 winner in Las Vegas. His win in Charlotte was the 21st of his career and that is 7th best in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class. L.E. Tonglet won here in 2010. This is the first time these two have met in the first round since Indy, 2016. Tonglet is 14 - 12 against Smith in prior events. Smith gets the holeshot but Tonglet goes around him by the time they reach the sixty foot mark. Tonglet stays in front past the 1000 foot mark, then Smith powers by and takes the stripe for the win. Matt Smith's incremental margins (negative if behind): 60ft(-0.001), 330 ft(-0.004), 660ft(-0.009), 1,000ft(-0.005). MOV: 0.0073 seconds (approximately 2 feet).
WINChip Ellis0.0761.0492.8594.406158.25.7566.918191.97
Kelly Clontz0.0931.0772.9214.494155.655.8687.045189.84
Chip Ellis's wins here came in 2004 & 2005. Kelly Clontz is making her 7th start. This is the first time Clontz and Ellis have faced each other in eliminations. Ellis gets the advantage off the line and extends his lead all the way through the run.
WINHector Arana0.0831.0612.8684.409158.935.7546.905194.6
Ryan Oehler0.0661.0912.9234.483155.945.857.022190.89
Hector Arana is 10 -4 in round 1 when starting from the #3 spot. Ryan Oehler is making his 16th start. Oehler is 1 - 0 against Arana in prior events. Oehler gets out of the gate first but Arana goes around him before they reach the sixty foot mark. Arana goes down the groove with a good pass and takes the win. Hector Arana's incremental margins: 60ft(0.013), 330 ft(0.038), 660ft(0.057), 1,000ft(0.079). MOV: 0.1003 seconds (approximately 28 feet). Arana will have lane choice over Sampey in the next round.
WINAndrew Hines0.0491.0782.8814.427157.285.7846.95191.92
Scotty Pollacheck0.0911.0622.8924.455156.555.826.994189.95
Andrew Hines has won this race 5 times. Hines is 20 - 5 against Pollacheck in prior events. Hines gets the holeshot and extends his lead all the way through the run. Ellis will have lane choice over Hines in the next round.
WINHector Arana Jr0.0651.0672.8794.417158.675.7666.924193.27
Mark Paquette0.0011.0852.914.467156.395.8557.236152.38
This is the 22nd #1 spot for Hector Arana Jr. and his 3rd this year. He has won five times when starting from the top spot. Mark Paquette is making his 11th start. Arana Jr is 1 - 0 against Paquette in prior events. Paquette gets a great light, stays in front past half track, then he makes a move toward the centerline and has to back off the throttle. Arana jr. goes around him a little before the 1000 foot mark and pulls away for the win. Smith will have lane choice over Arana Jr. in the next round.
WINEddie Krawiec0.0191.0912.8844.413159.915.7516.901194.21
Ron Tornow0.0521.0572.8844.444156.265.8187.003188.67
Eddie Krawiec won here in 2011, 2012 & 2017. This is just the 3rd start for Ron Tornow and he is the 52nd different driver to face Eddie in eliminations. Krawiec gets out of the gate first and makes the quickest pass of the round to pull away for the win. Tornow had a great sixty foot time, pulling even with Krawiec at the sixty foot mark, but then fell back as Krawiec pulled away. Eddie Krawiec's incremental margins (negative if behind): 60ft(-0.001), 330 ft(0.033), 660ft(0.064), 1,000ft(0.100). MOV: 0.1351 seconds (approximately 37 feet).
WINJerry Savoie0.0041.0582.8844.431158.285.7846.943192.85
Steve Johnson0.0661.0822.8954.441157.675.7966.966190.48
Steve Johnson has qualified in the top half of the field at 4 of the last 5 races. Jerry Savoie was the 2016 winner here and the runner-up in 2013 & 2015. Savoie is 12 - 5 against Johnson in prior events. Savoie gets the holeshot and starts pulling away. Johnson makes a clean pass but fell behind all the way through the run. Krawiec will have lane choice over Savoie in the next round.
ELIMINATIONS ROUND 2
LANEDRIVERRT60 FT330 FT660 FT660 FT MPH1000 FTETMPH
WINHector Arana Jr0.0191.0682.8894.437158.115.7876.942193.88
Matt Smith-0.0151.0792.9024.459157.155.816.96194.86
Arana Jr. and Smith have each won 10 times against the other in prior events. Smith leaves too soon and goes red giving the win to Arana.
WINAndrew Hines0.0481.0752.8854.444156.815.8096.978191.29
Chip Ellis-0.0051.0682.8844.442157.325.7986.954193.77
Hines is 18 - 2 against Ellis in prior events. Ellis just misses the tree and goes red giving the win to Hines. Arana Jr. will have lane choice over Hines in the next round.
WINHector Arana0.0081.072.8874.435158.045.7826.931194.74
Angelle Sampey0.0781.0772.8894.439157.585.7956.96191.87
Sampey is 8 - 2 against Arana in prior events. Arana gets out of the gate first, Sampey starts making up ground, then Arana comes on strong on the top end to pull away for the win. Hector Arana's incremental margins: 60ft(0.077), 330 ft(0.072), 660ft(0.074), 1,000ft(0.083). MOV: 0.0995 seconds (approximately 28 feet).
WINEddie Krawiec0.0511.0982.9034.445159.085.7856.933194.97
Jerry Savoie0.0071.082.9184.466158.155.8196.978192.69
Savoie gets the holeshot but Krawiec starts making up ground quickly. Savoie stays in front until just before the finish line, then Krawiec gets around him just before they cross the finish line.
ELIMINATIONS ROUND 3
LANEDRIVERRT60 FT330 FT660 FT660 FT MPH1000 FTETMPH
WINHector Arana Jr0.0091.0732.8924.444157.915.7936.946194.13
Andrew Hines0.0251.0742.8884.452156.195.8226.995190.89
3:09 p.m. Weather conditions: air temperature 85 degrees, relative humidity 20 percent, barometer 27.87 inches, adjusted altitude 4,496 feet, track temperature 107 degrees. Hines is 17 - 10 against Arana Jr. in prior events. Arana gets out of the gate first, Hines makes up a little ground early, then Arana starts pulling away for good at half track. Hector Arana Jr's incremental margins: 60ft(0.017), 330 ft(0.012), 660ft(0.024), 1,000ft(0.045). MOV: 0.0658 seconds (approximately 18 feet).
LANEDRIVERRT60 FT330 FT660 FT660 FT MPH1000 FTETMPH
WINEddie Krawiec0.0491.092.8914.433158.765.7766.924194.83
Hector Arana0.0391.0752.8864.438157.725.7946.953193.52
Arana does his burnout and the engine is stuck at high idle. Arana gets the advantage off the line, stays in front past half track, then Krawiec is able to get around him and take the stripe for the win. Eddie Krawiec's incremental margins (negative if behind): 60ft(-0.025), 330 ft(-0.015), 660ft(-0.005), 1,000ft(0.008). MOV: 0.0197 seconds (approximately 6 feet). Krawiec will have lane choice over Arana Jr. in the final round.
ELIMINATIONS ROUND 4
LANEDRIVERRT60 FT330 FT660 FT660 FT MPH1000 FTETMPH
WINHector Arana Jr0.0161.0472.8524.384159.425.7296.885193.35
Eddie Krawiec0.0371.0972.9014.432159.955.7666.911195.05
4:16 p.m. Weather conditions: air temperature 83 degrees, relative humidity 23 percent, barometer 27.84 inches, adjusted altitude 4,437 feet, track temperature 99 degrees. Krawiec is 16 - 8 against Arana Jr in prior events and Krawiec is 4 - 2 against Arana Jr in prior final rounds. Arana gets the advantage off the line and starts to pull away. Krawiec starts making up ground at the 330 foot mark but quickly runs out of room. Hector Arana Jr's incremental margins: 60ft(0.071), 330 ft(0.070), 660ft(0.069), 1,000ft(0.058). MOV: 0.0471 seconds (approximately 13 feet). Arana gets the win, the third this year and the 14th of his career.

 


Matt Smith

Matt Smith saved his best run of the weekend for when he needed it the most. He ran the quarter mile in 6.923 seconds to defeat LE Tonglet and increase his lead by three points to 44. Eddie Krawiec earned a round win to move into second place which sets the top three as Smith (2479), Krawiec (2435), Tonglet (2418) and Jerry Savoie (2378).

Smith improved on his 6.931 qualifying time while running in worse conditions and he needed every bit of it. He defeated Tonglet by just .007 second, with .003 coming from on-track performance. Tonglet let Smith at every increment except for the last one, showing how valuable the EBR body on Smith’s machine is aerodynamical.

“We still aren’t tuning this bike up the way we need to,” said Smith following the win. “We got the win there which is huge, but we’ve got work to do.”

He’s got another big round coming up as Smith will take on Hector Arana Jr. in the second stanza of racing. Arana is still in contention for the Pro Stock Motorcycle title and trails Smith by 124 markers. Only Angie Smith, Steve Johnson and Scotty Pollacheck have been mathematically eliminated from championship contention thus far.

Still, the only way for Arana to stay in true contention is for the racer to take down Smith in the second round. Smith has lane choice, for what it’s worth, because he ran a thousandth of a second quicker in the first round. And don’t miss out on a matchup between the last two champions on the other side of the bracket: Krawiec and Savoie.


Hector Arana Jr.

It may take something of a miracle for Hector Arana Jr. to get back into the Pro Stock Motorcycle title race, but he can take comfort in knowing he has his program back on track. The Lucas Oil TV rider took his EBR to the pole at the NHRA Toyota Nationals and, if he wins in the first round, will get a shot at either Matt Smith or LE Tonglet in the second.

That’s an opportunity to get back in the title hunt. Arana trails Smith by 124 points and can pick up, at most, 80 points on the leader on race day. That can make things very interesting at the Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona.

“We made a really good pass in the very first session and right there it gave us the confidence boost to go as fast as we’ve gone in the third session,” said Arana. “We didn’t have to mess around with anything after that because we already had a good baseline. We did have a little bit of a mishap in the second session, but we were able to get back on track in the third session and then just leave the bike alone for the last run.

That’s some much-needed consistency for Arana, who hasn’t managed much Countdown success outside from his big win in Reading to kick off the Countdown. He’s managed to run quickly (6.871 seconds) but his consistency lags behind some of the other top contenders (76 percent success rate). Now he feels like he’s getting a handle on this EBR body, which is great news for the final two races – and the future of his program.

“This EBR body is really comfortable and it’s just so stable aerodynamically,” he said. “It’s great not just because it’s safer and doesn’t wiggle around so much, but it’s just great to ride and to work on. We got lost for whatever reason. We started the Countdown off really good with the win and then we just couldn’t get past the first round for whatever reason.”

If he gets past the first round Sunday, he can get back into the championship hunt. At least, if he gets a little help from the rest of the field.


LE Tonglet

LE Tonglet gets a chance to help both himself and the rest of the Pro Stock Motorcycle field in the first round of racing. The Nitro Fish Suzuki racer takes on Matt Smith, the current leader, with a chance to move closer to his second championship.

“That’s the way to do it. If we get by the first round I’ll feel a lot better,” said Tonglet, who gets to worry about both the championship hunt and the baby his wife has on the way. “We’ve just go to solve the first 60 feet of the race track. We’re usually a 1.04-1.05 to that area and we’ve been slow all weekend.”

If there’s any consolation for the 2010 champion, it’s that Matt Smith hasn’t raced much quicker. Smith has lane choice over Tonglet but is qualified with an identical elapsed time. The two riders generally find success in opposite areas: Smith with an incredible aerodynamic EBR body and Tonglet with the torque-friendly Suzuki.

You can’t tune out the aerodynamics of a great motorcycle body, but you can fail to take advantage of what’s been a terrific racing surface. Tim Kulungian, who tunes Tonglet’s motorcycle, made a drastic move in the third qualifying session which did not prove successful.

“Now we know what doesn’t work,” said Tonglet. “That’s important, I guess. But now’s the time for us to make the move we actually want to make.”

If Smith gets the win, it’ll be another big step towards a championship for the veteran racer.


SATURDAY

Arana Jr. raced to third No. 1 qualifying position of the season and first since Richmond

Arana Jr. moved to the No. 1 position in Pro Stock Motorcycle during the first qualifying position of the day on Saturday with his run of 6.845 at 196.44 on his Lucas Oil Buell. This is the third No. 1 qualifying position for the season, first since the event in Richmond, Va., and the 22nd of his career. He will race Make Paquette when eliminations begin on Sunday.

“We made a really good pass the first session,” said Arana. “Right there that gave us the confidence boost and the momentum to be able to go as fast as we are going. We didn’t have to play catch up or figure out a tune-up. The tune-up we nailed it right away, then we were able to tickle it a little bit. We really feel confident going into race day tomorrow.”

Points leader Matt Smith qualified eighth and will face LE Tonglet who is second in points and qualified ninth. Eddie Krawiec who is third in points qualified second and races Ron Tornow when eliminations begin.

Qualifying Round 3: Hector Arana Jr. showed out (heck, so did his dad) with a stout 6.845-second pass at 196.44 mph. The Lucas Oil TV racer made one of four runs in the 6.80s during a great session of racing for the two-wheel category. His father, Hector Arana Sr. ran a 6.863, to join him in the top three and pick up two bonus points in a return to form for the team. Harley-Davidson rider Chip Ellis had trouble starting his motorcycle … and then made the third-quickest run of the session (6.899). So, maybe that’s the secret to success in the final session.

Kelly Clontz

Qualifying Round 4: The Harley-Davidson riders scored three of the six available bonus points, but not the ones that go to the top runner. Hector Arana Jr. delivered three bonus points with a 6.871-second burst, followed by 6.9 and 6.937 hits from Eddie Krawiec and Chip Ellis. The weather, including a slight crosswind, kept most riders from making significant improvements – but Ryan Oehler did step up by .008 second. Mark Paquette hung on to become the bump spot and will race Arana in the first round thanks to a 6.99 pass in the second round. Karen Stoffer, Katie Sullivan, Freddie Camarena, Anthony Vanetti and Maurice Allen all failed to make the cut.

 

POS DRIVER ET MPH
01 Hector Arana Jr 6.845 196.44
02 Eddie Krawiec 6.859 195.65
03 Hector Arana 6.863 194.88
04 Chip Ellis 6.899 194.6
05 Andrew Hines 6.911 193.43
06 Angie Smith 6.921 191.19
07 Steve Johnson 6.926 189.39
08 Matt Smith 6.931 195.17
09 LE Tonglet 6.931 194.32
10 Jerry Savoie 6.953 191.87
11 Angelle Sampey 6.953 191.73
12 Scotty Pollacheck 6.963 190.89
13 Kelly Clontz 6.972 190.97
14 Ryan Oehler 6.980 193.49
15 Ron Tornow 6.987 189.98
16 Mark Paquette 6.990 189.52
17 Karen Stoffer 6.991 190.51
18 Katie Sullivan 7.000 192.74
19 Cory Reed 7.020 190.59
20 Freddie Camarena 7.040 191.57
21 Anthony Vanetti 7.153 184.09
22 Maurice Allen 7.195 183.39


Angie Smith

Angie Smith did not perform well at the starting line in 2017. The veteran Pro Stock Motorcycle racer averaged a .062 reaction time, turned on the red light six times and beat herself up about performing well below her own standards. This year, Smith leads the two-wheel category in reaction time average (.022) and only has two red lights. That turnaround isn’t temporary.

“We made some big changes in the clutch department,” said Smith. “I was seeing the light too soon last year and that was really messing with me. At first, (husband and tuner Matt Smith) didn’t believe that I was seeing it as quickly as I was telling him, but we looked at some video frame by frame and you could see me looking at the light and hitting it as soon as the tree came down and turning on the red light. So, I think that convinced him that we needed to change something.”

That change, without getting too technical (we’re writers, not mechanics) came down to slowing the bike down. Smith said it best: It’s a lot easier to slow the bike down than it is to slow down the rider. That’s paid dividends. She’s raced with two different clutches this season (the switch was made in Brainerd, for those looking to dice up the numbers further) and has performed admirably.

“I was a little nervous before making the change, but it actually went really well,” said Smith. “I’m just really glad that I’m racing more consistently now because that wasn’t who I am last year.”

Smith averages a .046 light over the course of the last three seasons with nine red lights. That shows (at least in this writer’s opinion) that 2017 was the odd year out if you’re looking for one. Right now, Smith is racing at a high level – and her starts are a big reason why.


Ryan Oehler

Ryan Oehler keeps moving in the right direction (7.032, 6.99, 6.988) – but he’s not happy with his 60-foot times. The rookie Pro Stock Motorcycle racer stayed in the field with his third pass but has yet to make a 60-foot hit quicker than 1.1 second. That’s frustrating for a rider who’s also a tuner.

“The adjustments I had to make on the EBR are fairly drastic,” said Oehler. “What’s weird about these bikes is that when you get up on the wheelie bar, your rear wheel is technically your front wheel. So, that changes the way you’re tuning the bike and how you’re running the axle. What’s great about this EBR is that the aerodynamics are so much better than what I was running before.”

The rider builds his own engines, along with his dad, and is one of two teams (the other being Matt Smith Racing) to run his particular clutch setup. This wheel-driven clutch is more finnicky, but it’s what Oehler is familiar with and he doesn’t want to make a major adjustment during a race.

“People have offered to help me make the change, but I don’t want to do it and then test during a race,” he said. “If they want to make the change and then go test, that’s one thing. But you know, we’re here and then taking a redeye home on Sunday and going back to work on Monday. It’s a tough deal, but it’s what we signed up for.”

That means Oehler continues to pick away at his tune-up, particularly at the 60-foot block, as he chases a spot higher up a very deep Pro Stock Motorcycle field.


Eddie Krawiec

Racers talk about picking up little points all season long, but it’s not until the Countdown to the Championship that you get to see those impact the title chase. So far, Eddie Krawiec has done an excellent job of chasing those bonus points. He’s earned six of a possible nine bonus points and is qualified second entering the final session of action.

“I’ve lost championships by two points and I’ve won championships by single digits, so I have firsthand experience with this,” said Krawiec after claiming the provisional pole on Friday. “For us, the goal is to just control our own destiny the best way we can and pick up the maximum amount of points.”

It’s also about getting his bike set up as well as possible. That’s something of his teammates have done quite well. Chip Ellis is qualified fourth with a 6.899 and Andrew Hines is qualified fifth (6.911). The Harley-Davidson team is certainly looking to get Hines into the 6.80s, joining the rest of the squad.

“We came off the truck with a good, solid run and getting all those little points is a big deal,” he said. “With the points battle the way it is right now and everything being so tight with the top three racers, we’ve gotta be on our game every single run.”

So far, so good for Krawiec. The most important thing for him: getting some good runs in on Sunday.


FRIDAY

Championship contender Eddie Krawiec earns valuable qualifying session points in tight points battle

Krawiec was able to move to the No. 1 position in Pro Stock Motorcycle during the second qualifying session with his run of 6.859 at 196.65 on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson. He is currently third in the points battle and earned five bonus points in the two sessions.

“It was great to come off the truck with a good solid run and collect some little points,” said Krawiec. “With the points battle the way that is going on with the top three guys in the category it is going to be tough. There is no easy round out here, you need every point you can get and I’ve won championships with minimal points and lost them by as much as two and I know how valuable they are.”

Arana Jr. is second with his run of 6.863 at 195.93 with his father in third at 6.822 at 196.24. Points leader Smith is in the seventh position following his best run of 6.936 at 195.34.

Qualifying Round 1: Hector Arana Jr. made a big move in the right direction on his Lucas Oil TV EBR. He earned three bonus points with a 6.863-second blast, a full .014 second better than Eddie Krawiec and one of only two 6.80s. Andrew Hines rounded out the top three (6.911) – there’s plenty left on the table in the two-wheel category. Neither of the Harley-Davidson riders made great moves to 60-foot which almost certainly bit the 1,320 time. Ryan Oehler is on the bump spot with a 7.032. He’s chased by Freddie Camarena, who is pulling double-duty this weekend by working on Jerry Savoie’s White Alligator Racing machine.

Qualifying Round 2: Eddie Krawiec found the cure for what ailed him: Three bonus points. He earned those little points with a 6.859-second hit, .004 second quicker than the run that now has Hector Arana Jr. sitting second. Arana’s Lucas Oil TV EBR bogged right off the starting line, which kept the rider from earning any more bonus points in the second round. His father, Hector Arana Sr., made a terrific run to get two bonus points and move his bike into the No. 3 position. There weren’t many other big movers in the second session despite similar (albeit warmer) conditions. Ryan Oehler jumped off the bump with a 6.99. That put Katie Sullivan on the bump with a 7-second flat run.

Qualifying After 2 Rounds

POS DRIVER ET MPH
01 Eddie Krawiec 6.859 195.65
02 Hector Arana Jr 6.863 195.93
03 Hector Arana 6.882 196.24
04 Andrew Hines 6.911 193.43
05 Steve Johnson 6.926 189.39
06 LE Tonglet 6.931 194.32
07 Matt Smith 6.936 195.34
08 Chip Ellis 6.937 193.24
09 Angie Smith 6.949 191.05
10 Angelle Sampey 6.956 190.78
11 Jerry Savoie 6.965 194.32
12 Scotty Pollacheck 6.969 190.11
13 Kelly Clontz 6.972 190.97
14 Ryan Oehler 6.990 194.27
15 Mark Paquette 6.992 188.49
16 Katie Sullivan 7.000 192.74
17 Freddie Camarena 7.040 191.57
18 Ron Tornow 7.071 188.02
19 Cory Reed 7.134 190.83
20 Maurice Allen 7.230 184.5
21 Anthony Vanetti 7.271 184.62
22 Karen Stoffer 8.130 117.21

RYAN OEHLER

Ryan Oehler now claims 11 runs on his EBR-bodied Pro Stock Motorcycle and he feels he’s moving in the right direction. That’s both figurative and literal in the case of the Auto Club Road to the Future candidate. Oehler struggled with keeping the bike straight on his first handful of runs but feels he has that problem under control entering the NHRA Toyota Nationals.

“The Arana guys came over and said they didn’t want to mess with my program, which I thought was nice of them to say (laughs), but offered to help me out,” said Oehler. “What we found is that I was kind of over correcting and making big adjustments when I just needed to tap at it a little bit. So, that’s kind of what we’re doing now.”

Some of those adjustments are in the 60-foot area, which is half the battle in the Pro Stock Motorcycle category. That’s not a battle Oehler has won in his rookie campaign. He averages a 1.086-second hit to the 60-foot clock, which is the worst in the class among full-time competitors. Getting that number competitive will cure much of what ails his burgeoning program.

“I’m not the only rookie in the team, we’re all rookies,” said Oehler. “I’m the crew chief, I’m the tuner and I’m the rider. Once you get to this level, you’ve really got to have more help. Next year, my dad is going to be sticking back in the shop and working full time on building the engines for us. It’s all about putting people in the positions they’re best in.”

Oehler is qualified No. 16 after the first session. His bike was sluggish off the starting line and posted a 1.117-second 60-foot. There’s still plenty of work to do for the young team, but Oehler is in the team for now and he’s got another three cracks at the track.


LE TONGLET

And you thought racing for a Pro Stock Motorcycle championship was stressful. LE Tonglet’s already done that. The 2010 world champion will become a first-time father as soon as this weekend as his wife, Kayla, is set to give birth to the couple’s first child. It takes a lot to get to the coolest (cool like calm and relaxed, though we guess he’s got some Han Solo in him), but Tonglet readily admitted this is a stressful deal.

He trails leader Matt Smith by 41 points and sits qualified fifth with a 6.933-second hit. That would get him a matchup with Mark Paquette if nothing changes before the first round of eliminations Sunday. One of the things that might change: Kayla going into labor. Tonglet says he’s “playing things by ear” right now, but it seems he’ll fly back to Louisiana immediately if his wife goes into labor.

Impact on the Pro Stock Motorcycle championship chase notwithstanding, the message is simple: family comes first. Before you suggest the NHRA Toyota Nationals provides a welcome distraction from the stress of welcoming a child into the world… well, don’t.

“It’s a huge stress. Honestly, I wish I was there with her,” said Tonglet. “Hopefully I’ll be able to keep my mind right when I’m on the bike. We’ll see how it goes.”


HECTOR ARANA JR

Hector Arana Jr. enters the NHRA Toyota Nationals as a longshot to win a Pro Stock Motorcycle championship. He trails Matt Smith by 138 points after struggling throughout the first four races of the Countdown to the Championship. His average e.t. (6.873) hasn’t been the problem: It’s how frequently he’s achieved it (76.2 success rate).

That’s well below top title contenders Matt Smith (86.2), Eddie Krawiec (92) and LE Tonglet (85.2). His average reaction times have also not been up to snuff (.042), especially compared to the .033 he averaged during the regular season. Arana rebounded a bit with a great pass in the first qualifying session (6.863) to earn three bonus points and (hopefully) get his program back on track.

“We’ve struggled quite a bit, but that run felt really good,” said Arana following his run to the top of the field. It put him .014 second ahead of Krawiec with a three chances to improve. Perhaps more impressive is the gulf between Arana and the No. 3 qualifier, Andrew Hines. He’s got a nearly .05 second gap there, giving the Lucas Oil TV racer room to experiment as qualifying continues Friday evening.


Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 24 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; Gainesville Raceway 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