Arana Jr. left .006 seconds too soon in his semifinal matchup with No. 2 qualifier Andrew Hines, allowing Hines to advance to the finals. That’s the first time Arana Jr. has red-lighted in his 24-race NHRA career.
“I was amped up, pumped up, ready to go,” Arana Jr. said. “I was going for the light; I wanted to win bad. I red-lit, but it was the first time.
“It just goes to show we were going for it. We’re pushing the Tree. I needed any little thing to beat him, and unfortunately we ended up on the wrong side of the light.”
Arana Jr.’s bike had a two-hundredths of a second elapsed-time disadvantage to Hines’ Harley-Davidson through the first two rounds of eliminations, but he wouldn’t go down without a fight.
Arana Jr., who won three times in his rookie season last year, has reached the semifinals in seven of the eight races of 2012, going to the final round twice. Plus, he’s qualified third or better in all eight national events. He qualified No. 3 here, beat Katie Sullivan in the first round Sunday, and then took out Shawn Gann in the second round to reach the semis.
“It’s still a good weekend,” Arana Jr. said. “We made another semifinal again, we qualified No. 3 again and still haven’t qualified worse than that. We can’t complain.”
No, Arana Jr. said he and his team will return to Indiana and search for more speed in his Lucas Oil Buell before the next race in Brainerd, Minn., and then get ready for the Countdown to the Championship.
“We need to go home, work hard and try to find an edge so we can give these guys something,” said Arana Jr., who locked up a spot in the Countdown by qualifying for this race. “We’re in the Countdown, dad’s in the Countdown, so now it’s time to work hard and try to find an extra edge – maybe not for Brainerd, but for Indy and then on.
“We want to win races now, but it’s most important to win the races in the Countdown. That’s our goal. We’ll see what happens.”