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Lucas Oil's Arana Jr. falls just short in quest for victory in Denver
DENVER (July 22) - Lucas Oil Buell rider Hector Arana Jr. left the Mopar Mile High Nationals with the Bandimere Speedway track record for the Pro Stock Motorcycle class. But he wanted more, much more.
Arana Jr. lowered the track record in the first round, but he lost in the semifinals when the engine failed.
"It makes you feel good, and it helps take away the sting," Arana Jr. said of the track record. "We are pushing these bikes to the limit, to the extreme, and these motors are like time bombs because of that. I guess the altitude put a little extra strain on the motor and that's what did it."
Arana Jr. scored his first No. 1 qualifier of the season and hoped to end Harley-Davidson's streak of eight consecutive victories since his win in Phoenix last October.
In Sunday's first round against Angie Smith, Arana Jr. made a pass of 7.237 seconds at 184.90 mph that set the track record for elapsed time and swept him into the second round. There, he out-ran Michael Ray with a pass of 7.246 seconds at 183.15 mph that was the quickest of the round.
Matched up with Eddie Krawiec in the semis, Arana Jr. left first, but the bike soon betrayed him.
"We're really bummed out," Arana Jr. said. "We are running these bikes so hard, and that's what happens. We need a break, we need something."
Arana Jr.'s riding remained stellar, with the only blemish coming after Smith left .107 seconds too soon in the first round, causing him to react early, too. But the victory was already secured.
"My reaction times this weekend were killer," Arana Jr. said. "I didn't have a light worse than a .030 the whole weekend. And I left first twice today."
Arana Jr. and the Lucas Oil team will continue to push their bikes in next weekend's NHRA Sonoma Nationals in an effort to return to victory lane.
"We are doing every little thing," Arana Jr. said. "Every time we get back, we take the bikes completely apart. Everything gets inspected. We've been getting 10 runs on some parts, and we're finding that if we would've made one more run, they would've broke. This has been a very expensive year for us, parts-wise, because we're breaking so much stuff in order to run the numbers that were running and to try to go to the finals against these guys."
Lucas Oil's Hector Arana Jr. shows the way early in Denver
DENVER (July 20) - For the first time this season, Hector Arana Jr. ended a Friday atop the Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying chart
Arana and the Lucas Oil Buell are the provisional kings of the mountain at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere raceway.
"It was really a big confidence booster," said Arana, who has qualified third in the last four races. "I'm really amped up right now. My lights have been great so far this weekend. I'm looking forward to having a great time and having fun."
Arana had a best pass of 7.238 seconds at 184.57 mph and had the best ET in both qualifying sessions.
"That was an excellent run," Arana said. "When it left it felt so smooth and it went straight. We haven't run that motor in a year. To run that fast from the first hit with a motor we haven't run in so long it exciting.
"It was the first motor I've ever run on a Buell down the quarter-mile. Now it's running good and we're having fun."
However, Arana said those solid passes didn't feel like they were destined for the top of the ladder.
"At other places, when you drop the clutch everything is much more violent," Arana said. "Here it's smoother with higher RPMs. It's just got a completely different feeling. I didn't think it was good at first, but it was better than my dad's and he's been on fire lately."
Arana's closest pursuer was his father, Hector Arana Sr., who guided his Lucas Oil Buell to a best pass of 7.243 seconds at 183.62 mph. Arana Sr., has qualified first or second in five of six races this season.
"We're doing great in the points and everything," Arana Jr. said. "I don't know if he and I are starting a rivalry, but it's nice to have that, 'Finally I got you,' feeling."
Qualifying at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals continues on Saturday with a pair of sessions that start at 12:45 p.m. MDT.