Lucas Oil’s Hector Arana Sr. ready for battle of past champions in Denver first round

DENVER – One first-round match at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals on Sunday at Bandimere Speedway features a Hector Arana, Sr - 2016 Denver, Saturdaypair of past Pro Stock Motorcycle champions.

Lucas Oil rider Hector Arana Sr., the 2009 champion, faces three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle titlist Angelle Sampey in round one. Arana, the No. 14 qualifier, relishes the challenge.

“That’s great,” Arana said. “You always want to race the best. That’s how you get better.”

Arana will have to be at his best, as Sampey qualified in the lofty No. 3 perch after a best pass of 7.178 seconds at 184.32 mph. Arana’s top run was 7.285 seconds at 184.47 mph, but his Buell has been one of the fastest bikes in the class this weekend.

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Lucas Oil Racing TV rider Hector Arana Jr. hopes to hit ‘curveball’ out of the park

DENVER – The mile-high altitude has thrown Lucas Oil Racing TV rider Hector Arana Jr. a curveball, but the Hector Arana, Jr - 2016 Denver, Saturdaytalented Pro Stock Motorcycle racer still hopes he can hit one out of the park during final eliminations at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals on Sunday at Bandimere Speedway.

Arana, a two-time Denver finalist and a two-time No. 1 qualifier here, qualified No. 10 for this race, but he’s still optimistic.

“For whatever reason, we’ve been thrown a curveball on our tune-ups,” Arana said. “We were able to get four runs down the track, and we’re looking at every little thing and going back to runs from last year. I have a good feeling for tomorrow, so we’ll see what happens.”

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Angie Smith puts Victory Gunner in Denver field, will now race husband Matt

DENVER – NHRA officials tried to joke with Victory Motorcycles rider Angie Smith after they learned she would Angie Smith -  2016 Denver, Saturdayhave to race husband Matt in the first round of the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals on Sunday at Bandimere Speedway.

But Angie got the last laugh.

“They said, ‘Is he sleeping on the couch tonight?’ ” she said. “And I said, ‘No, he’s not even sleeping in the motorhome tonight.’ ”

Jokes aside, the Smiths are thrilled to have both Victory Gunners in the field in Denver. That’s the second time in a trying season both Gunners have qualified but also the second time in the last three races.

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Victory Motorcycles rider Matt Smith qualifies No. 5, will race wife Angie in first round

DENVER – For Victory Motorcycles rider Matt Smith, the Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying results from the Mopar Matt Smith - 2016 Denver, SaturdayMile-High NHRA Nationals on Saturday at Bandimere Speedway were a case of good news, bad news.

First, the good news: Smith qualified No. 5 in Denver, the third time in the last three races he has been fifth or better. And his Victory Gunner teammate and wife Angie Smith also qualified for the Denver field.

Now, the bad news: Angie qualified No. 12, meaning she races Matt in the first round.

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Shane Gray maintains lofty perch in Denver, qualifies No. 3

DENVER – Shane Gray continues to prove his Valvoline/Nova Services team belongs among the elite in Pro Stock in Shane Gray - 2016 Denver, Saturdaythe NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, and so does his Gray Motorsports engine group.

Gray qualified No. 3 for the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals on Saturday at Bandimere Speedway, and Alex Laughlin used a Gray Motorsports engine to qualify No. 1 for the first time in his career.

“I’m happy, our customers are happy, and we’re really fast,” Gray said. “Yeah, things are pretty good right now, and we think they can be pretty good tomorrow, too.”

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Lucas Oil driver Richie Crampton hits home run with No. 3 qualifying spot

DENVER – In baseball, sometimes one good inning is all a team needs to get a victory and start a long winning Richie Crampton - 2016 Denver, Saturdaystreak.

Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster driver Richie Crampton hopes Saturday’s final qualifying session was that one good inning his Morgan Lucas Racing team needed.

After struggling with parts issues in the first three qualifying sessions, Crampton ripped off a pass of 3.813 seconds at 310.27 mph to snare the No. 3 spot for the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals on Sunday at Bandimere Speedway.

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Pro Stock champ Erica Enders reaches new heights with No. 2 spot in Denver

DENVER – Pro Stock champion Erica Enders would have loved to have held on to the No. 1 spot for the Mopar Mile-Erica Enders-Stevens - 2016 Denver, Saturday1High NHRA Nationals on Saturday at Bandimere Speedway, but though she fell .007-second short of that lofty perch, Enders and her Elite Motorsports/Mopar Dodge team can hold their heads up high after qualifying No. 2.

“It would have been cool to get a green hat,” Enders said, referring to the special hats given to No. 1 qualifiers. “And tomorrow would have been a little cooler than normal because we would have a bye in the first round (because there are only 15 cars in the field).

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