ST. LOUIS (Oct. 1) — The Countdown to the Championship is only six races long so there isn’t a lot of wiggle room for anyone wishing to win the title at the end of the year. Lucas Oil Racing TV Buell rider Hector Arana Jr. relinquished any extra cushion he may have had Sunday with an unlikely first-round loss at the sixth annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park.
Arana lost to Karen Stoffer, against whom he was a perfect 8-0 in lifetime meetings — including a 4-0 mark this year — with Stoffer pulling off the big upset with a 6.840 at 194.13 mph ahead of Arana’s 6.848 at 195.45 mph.
“What a tough weekend,” Arana said. “Unfortunately, when you qualify No. 8, that’s what happens. You’re going to race someone who was very close to you in qualifying times and today Karen was able to run a tick faster and get me off the tree. It’s just one of those unfortunate things. I guess the only thing we can really do is take that as a lesson learned, go through all of the data and look back and see how we can prevent this moving forward. We will see what happens as far as the points go.
“The bike was ready. Was it as fast as it could have been? No, but with the issues we had over the weekend through qualifying, we set the bike up conservative and it ran fast enough to win but unfortunately I was a little late off the tree compared to Karen so again I just have to put that behind me and move forward. We’ll get them next time.”
Arana will have a weekend off to regroup before heading to the Lone Star State for the 32nd annual AAA Texas NHRA Fallnationals, Oct. 13-15, at the Texas Motorplex south of Dallas.
“Either way I love being out here racing,” Arana said. “I love racing my Lucas Oil Buell and I’ve got to thank everyone that helps us do that. There are all those guys that don’t get mentioned enough like World Wide Bearings, NGK Spark Plugs, Brown & Miller Hoses, S&S, all of those guys play a big role in giving us the opportunity to perform as well as we do out here and I just have to be thankful that even when we don’t do well, we are still living the dream.