St. Louis: Hector Arana final report

Strong showing in St. Louis keeps Lucas Oil rider Arana in points lead ST. LOUIS (May 2) -- Defending Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion drag racer Hector Arana rode his Lucas Oil Buell V-Twin to the semifinals of the 14th annual AAA Insurance...

Strong showing in St. Louis keeps Lucas Oil rider Arana in points lead

ST. LOUIS (May 2) -- Defending Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion drag racer Hector Arana rode his Lucas Oil Buell V-Twin to the semifinals of the 14th annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals Sunday in St. Louis to pad his lead in the Full Throttle standings to 68 points over second-place Eddie Krawiec.

Arana's teammate under the Lucas Oil banner, Top Fuel racer Shawn Langdon, wasn't as fortunate, losing in Round 1 despite leaving the starting line ahead of opponent Brandon Bernstein. The silver lining for Langdon is the fact he's left first against all 17 drivers he's faced this season.

After posting the lowest elapsed time of the race in qualifying No. 1, Arana continued to run well on Sunday. His biggest problem came at the Christmas Tree where a tragically-late .103-second reaction time against semifinal foe LE Tonglet (.021) resulted in holeshot upset win for the Tonglet, who advanced to his first ever final with a slower 6.977 at 189.76 mph ahead of Arana's 6.927 at 192.74 mph.

"I really have to start practicing at the tree," Arana admitted. "Sometimes you get the fear of red-lighting, and what happens is you hang onto the clutch too tight, like more then you normally do. It happened; I've got to let it go and focus on the next race.

"I can't complain. We struggled a little bit this weekend leaving the starting line. We never quite got a handle on the track, but the last run was the best 60-foot we had. The race was close. At the finish line I had him in sight and thought I'd reeled him in. When we crossed, I looked to see where the win light was. The kid did a helluva a job and deserved his win."

Earlier in the day in Round 1, Arana beat Angie Smith with a 6.929 at 191.32 mph to her 7.165 at 169.57 mph. His quarterfinal win came against Shawn Gann, who red-lighted with a -.093 foul start.

It was a tough weekend all the way around for Langdon, who never fell into any kind of rhythm with his Lucas Oil/Speedco dragster. After qualifying 12th with an off-pace 4.072 at 295.08 mph, Langdon posted a tire-smoking 4.243 at 243.50 mph in his loss to Bernstein, who limped through himself with a 4.082 at 265.90 mph.

"It's always tough losing first round," Langdon said. "We just didn't qualify well and it put us in a tough position.

"Sometimes you have to start testing stuff during qualifying because you don't want to get too far behind the times. You are always looking for improve your performance. We felt like it was our weekend to start trying some different things. We did and we learned a few things. It's not the end of the world; the car is still good.

"We caught a snag where it smoked mid-track. None of us were really expecting that. We got through the shake zone and (shaking again) was the last thing on my mind. I was so worried about keeping it in the groove, I felt it smoke and it caught me by surprise. Even if I was able to catch and pedal it, we wouldn't have been able to run Brandon down.

"This weekend was just a bad weekend. We're down, but not out."

The tour takes a weekend off before returning to action May 14-16 at Atlanta Dragway.

-source: lor

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Series NHRA
Drivers Shawn Gann , Brandon Bernstein , Eddie Krawiec , Angie Smith , LE Tonglet