BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 19) - Lucas Oil Buell rider Hector Arana Jr. has raced twice at Brainerd International Raceway, and twice he's advanced all the way to the final round.
Arana Jr.'s first-ever final-round appearance was here in 2011, and he followed that up with another final in Sunday's Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.
"It's nice to do well for your sponsor," Arana Jr. said. "Maybe next year, we can seal the deal."
An unfortunate red light felled Arana Jr. in the final this year, and it came on the heels of a first-round red light by his dad earlier in the day.
Arana Jr. beat Mike Berry, L.E. Tonglet and Andrew Hines en route to the final round against Eddie Krawiec. But Arana Jr. then fouled out, handing Krawiec the victory.
"It wasn't like I was trying to kill the light," Arana Jr. said. "I was just doing the same thing I always do. I don't know if I was a little more amped up or what. The bike didn't rule anything, and I saw yellow, so I dropped the clutch. It was just on the wrong side. I didn't think it was that red, but, oh, well."
Arana Jr., who overcame an illness to qualify No. 3 for Sunday's race, felt confident heading into the final.
"I wasn't nervous or anything," Arana Jr. said. "It felt like it was a qualifying run. I was pretty excited, but it didn't end up as good as we wanted to."
It started well, as he ran 6.894 seconds at 192.22 mph to beat Berry's pass of 6.936 at 192.22 mph in the first round, where Arana Jr. also left first with a .022-second reaction time to Berry's .060. In the second round, Arana Jr. left on Tonglet (.038 to .053) and then out-ran him, going 6.912 seconds at 192.06 mph to beat Tonglet's pass 7.781 at 132.67 mph.
Then in the semifinal, Arana Jr. took down Hines on a holeshot. Arana Jr. made a run of 6.914 seconds at 191.67 mph that was a tic slower than Hines' 6.911 at 193.13 mph, but the difference was on the Christmas Tree, where Arana Jr. had a .007 light to Hines' .034.
"The whole entire weekend, we were consistent," said Arana Jr., who advanced to the semifinals for the sixth consecutive race. "We only made minor changes, but other than that, it was very consistent. That's the key to winning races and going rounds. Even the last run, we were another .90, which shows our consistency. We'll just try it again next race."
Arana Sr.'s problems started as soon as the engine fired on his Buell.
"I started the bike, and it sounded different," Arana Sr. said. "I just lost my concentration. I was thinking, 'Why does the bike sound different? Something's going on.' That was it. I went out of my zone."
Arana Sr. remains fourth in the Pro Stock Motorcycle points standings, having already clinched his spot in the Countdown to the Championship. Arana Jr. is third in the points, also having secured a berth in NHRA's playoffs.
Source: Lucas Racing