Ryan Oehler road his EBR well beyond the quarter-mile finish line during the final qualifying session at the Dodge NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil. That was not the plan for the second-year Pro Stock Motorcycle rider, who ended up in the gravel trap at the end of the track. He was unharmed, as was his EBR, which traveled nearly half a mile (and up a small incline) to end up in the sand composite that makes up the trap at the end of The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Oehler said low brake fluid in his motorcycle likely contributed to his loss of brake pressure as he reached the far end of the track. The second-year rider, who qualified for the NHRA Countdown to the Championship for the first time, continues to chase better pre-run checks of his parts and pieces. He says this is another area he'll look to improve moving forward.
"We talk about removing variables all the time," said Oehler. "This is going to be another one. I talked to the Aranas after the run and right away they said I probably was low on brake fluid. They were absolutely right -- that's something I'll know to check going forward."
Oehler was officially eliminated from title contention, along with Angie Smith and Hector Arana Sr., at the end of qualifying. This still marks the best season in his young career as he has shown incredible power from engine he and his father, Brad Oehler, build themselves. He acknowledges the high ceiling of his family-run team, but looks at reliability as an area that needs improvement when the 2020 season rolls around.
"The reliability is getting better, but it's going to be keeping all the details in order so when we need a part that's already on the shelf, it's in its spot and it's labeled," said Oehler. "It's not in a box that where you gotta dump everything out to find it -- you already know where it is. It's having parts already assembles, having cylinders and pistons already matched up so we're not rushing through everything all the time."
His run into the sand, which thankfully didn't result in a massive cleanup, proved to be a learning experience. He's looking to turn that into a positive on race day.