Lucas Oil Buell rider Hector Arana Sr. raced to another semifinal, but he overpowered the track in falling to eventual race winner Andrew Hines at the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals on Sunday.
Arana Sr. has reached the semis in seven of the last nine races, including the finals of the 58th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus at Lucas Oil Raceway last weekend. But despite losing an engine in the finals at Indy, Arana Sr. was able to put together a new engine and speed to the semis here.
"I felt comfortable," Arana Sr. said. "We struggled a little bit in qualifying. We couldn't get the bike to respond well, but then again, everything was fresh: New ring, piston, all that. Overall, I'm pleased with the performance, except we missed the tuneup for the semifinals.
"The track was not there. It left, but after that, there was nothing. Nothing we can do but regroup, learn from it and see what happens next time."
Arana Sr. was on his game again at the starting line, with reaction times all .054 seconds or quicker Sunday. He opened with the .054 light against Michael Phillips, who handed Arana Sr. the win with a red light. Arana Sr. ran 6.900 seconds at 193.88 mph that was the third-best elapsed time of the round.
In the second round, Arana Sr. left with a .026 light and then made a pass of 6.893 seconds at 192.49 mph to beat Matt Smith's 7.075-second pass at 184.09 mph.
In the semis, not much went right, as the Lucas Oil Buell launched OK, but then bogged.
"It launched, and I felt the Gs pulling," Arana Sr. said. "All that is normal, and then suddenly, it just threw me forward. It threw me forward so hard that I hit the windshield. I could hear the motor on the rev limiter already, so I just pulled in the clutch and killed it right there."
Hines made a pass of 6.858 seconds at 193.16 mph that would have been hard to beat. Arana Sr. stopped his Buell not far down the track after the initial trouble.
Arana Sr. remains fourth in the Countdown to the Championship after the first of six playoff races. He qualified fourth and reached the semis, but the 2009 Pro Stock Motorcycle champion wants more.
"Definitely, it's not what we want," Arana Sr. said. "But it's no different than what we have seen through the whole year."
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