Top contender Hector Arana Jr. exits in quarterfinals after getting the ‘creeps’

DENVER (July 23) — Drag racing in Denver is a challenge on many levels, as No. 2 qualifier Hector Arana Jr. found out Sunday after a second-round exit at the 38th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway.

“This mountain over here is tricky,” Arana said. “Every time I got on the gas the bike was wanting to creep so it was throwing me off on my lights a little bit. I was worrying too much about rolling the beams and not putting 100 percent of my concentration into cutting good lights.”

Despite running quicker than his opponent, reigning world champion Jerry Savoie, Arana couldn’t capitalize on the occasion having left the starting line .018 seconds after Savoie. That translated to a holeshot loss for the rider of the Lucas Oil Racing TV Buell, as Arana’s 7.185 at 186.38 mph was edged by Savoie’s 7.192 at 184.72 mph.

“It was a close race,” Arana said. “We were side-by-side the whole way down. He beat me by a hundredth of a second. It’s racing. I’ve just got to go home, practice some more on the tree, and stay focused, that’s all.

“You can’t feel sorry for yourself out here in this sport. You’ve just got to go with the flow and keep moving forward. Nothing I do now will change the outcome of that run so why worry about it anymore? We still have a really fast bike. We were No. 2 qualifier, third quickest of Round 1 and second quickest of Round 2. Hard to complain about our performance.”

Arana opened with a convincing thrashing of veteran Steve Johnson, running a 7.198 at 186.54 mph to Johnson’s 7.398 at 178.73 mph.

The tour now moves to Sonoma Raceway in California’s wine country for next weekend’s 30th annual Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals. Arana won in Sonoma in 2013 and was No. 1 qualifier there in 2011. This time through he’ll have two chances to win as he’ll be competing in the Mickey Thompson Tire Pro Bike Battle, a special race-within-a-race for the top eight qualifiers from the last 12 months.

“We have a really good set up for sea-level so we are fired up for Sonoma,” Arana said. “We’re excited to see how fast we can go. I think we may have a chance at the first 200 mph pass and I want to win both races and double-up so we’re excited to get there.”

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