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Defending Four-Wide champ Arana Jr. hopes to repeat 2013 success

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CHARLOTTE (April 8) - As the defending champion of the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, Lucas Oil Buell rider Hector Arana Jr. hopes to get back to his winning ways this weekend.

Arana stormed to the victory in 2013 when the Pro Stock Motorcycle class returned to the four-wide format for the first time in three years.

"I was really glad they brought it back last year because I love that track," Arana said. "It's a beautiful, prestigious track to go to, and when you go there, you really feel like you're a part of something because of how immaculate the track is.

"Also, my first two years they didn't have the Four-Wide race for Pro Stock Motorcycle, so I'd never done it. It was something I wanted to say I was a part of, so when they brought it back I was really excited. The fact that I was able to win that race, that was also really awesome."

Arana had to learn the unique staging procedures of four-wide racing, but he and his Lucas Oil Buell were up to the task, winning all three rounds of eliminations. But that, perhaps, was the simple part. The more difficult task was trying to figure out who won each round because two riders from each quad advance during eliminations.

"There were a couple of rounds where I really didn't know who won," Arana said. "You see your win light on, but then I know one other win light comes on, so I'm looking around trying to figure out who won.

"All I know is I was able to see a win light every time, and that was really exciting. When it came to the final, I saw my win light, but I didn't know if I was second or first. Then NHRA said it was me, and that made it three wins in a row. What an awesome feeling it was to know you won all three times."

When racing three other bikes, riders have to pay attention to each lane's staging lights to know when to stage and then go when the Christmas Tree comes on. Arana was able to focus on the task at hand and ride well.

"There's definitely more going on, and you really have to be on your game and stay focused," Arana said. "There are now three other people, not just one other person. You've got to really focus on everybody's lights, and you've got to make sure that you know what you're doing so you don't get confused.

"Honestly, once you pop the clutch and you start going down the track, you're just focusing on your lane. It's all within the stage and pre-stage."

Qualifying rounds for the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals are set for 1:15 and 4:15 p.m., on both Friday and Saturday. Final eliminations, which will be broadcast in tape delay on ESPN2, will begin at noon, Sunday.