Lucas Oil Buell rider Hector Arana Jr. endured a wild day in the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals on Sunday that ended with another semifinal appearance by the second-year rider.
Arana Jr. needed to be restarted after his Pro Stock Motorcycle stalled before his first-round pass, and then he survived a close call in the second round. But Arana Jr. fouled out in the semifinals before aborting his run when the motorcycle began to slide around.
"I don't know, it's been a crazy day," Arana Jr. said. "We were able to hold on all the way to the semifinals at least."
Arana Jr. reached the semifinals for the eighth consecutive race and for the 10th time in 11 races of 2012. He remains third in the points standings after the first of six Countdown to the Championship races.
Arana Jr. qualified No. 3 and faced No. 14 qualifier Chip Ellis in the first round. But after his burnout, Arana Jr.'s Buell stalled.
"I was putting it into gear, and the clutch slipped out of my hand, and it stalled," Arana Jr. said. "But (brother) Adam (Arana) was fast enough to see it and get it started again. No worries. We're allowed one restart, so we were able to get it started in just enough time."
Arana Jr. then left first and outran Ellis with a pass of 6.939 seconds at 190.83 mph, topping Ellis' run of 6.959 seconds at 190.22 mph.
Against Michael Ray in the second round, Arana Jr. was moving ahead before his Buell started moving toward the middle of the track.
"That run against Michael Ray was a close one," Arana Jr. said. "The bike was drifting to the center line, and I couldn't get it to come back. It was shaking real bad, but I knew it was really close. I just had a good feeling, so I stayed with it, and everything turned out for the best."
Arana Jr.'s pass was 6.914 seconds at 190.89 mph, beating Ray's run of 6.918 at 191.76 mph. The
margin of victory was .002 seconds.
That matched him against Eddie Krawiec in the semis, but the race was over when Arana Jr. left .007 seconds too soon. The bike spun the tire and later washed out down the track, and Arana Jr. pulled in the clutch early, not knowing he had left early.
"They said the bike creeped," Arana Jr. said of the red light. "But it was also dark, so you see the lights better, quicker. That's just what happens."
Photo by Matt Polito