The Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series returned to Southern California this weekend for the 4-Wheel Parts Off Road Nationals at Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino (CA). All three Team Competitive drivers were tested, rested and ready for the event. Geoffrey Cooley proved he was ready by piloting his no.22 Alumi Craft, Competitive Metals Pro Buggy to the fastest time in Friday’s qualifying session. Dave Mason Jr. also looked strong placing his no.65 Competitive Metals, Eleven Western Builders Pro Buggy inside the top ten for qualifying. Justin Smith qualified up front as well in his no.19 Competitive Metals Alumi Craft Pro Lite truck. The teams were ready to compete under the lights in front of a packed house of racing fans.
Dave Mason Jr. – Pro Buggy #65 Competitive Metals / Eleven Western Builders
Saturday night was round 9 of the touring off road series. And it would be Dave Mason Jr. who would lead the veteran field to the green flag starting from the pole after an inversion. Mason Jr. was off to a great start jumping out to a three-car-length lead. He remained in the top spot for several laps and the rookie driver appeared to be cruising to a first Pro Buggy class win. A routine pass of a car that was several laps down though quickly changed Mason’s night. The lapped car of Eric Fitch was running slow and several laps down. When Mason Jr. moved low to pass, Fitch cut across his line causing him to spin. The rest of the field scrambled to avoid contact with Mason Jr. and Fitch. The incident dropped Mason and the #65 Competitive Metals machine to a 7th place finish. For Sunday’s round 10 Mason Jr. started 7th and was confident he had a fast car and could fight his way to the podium. The track was wet and muddy and soon after the start Mason Jr. ran out of tear offs for his face shield. He was struggling to see as mud piled up on his helmet severely blocking his vision. Despite the lack of vision Mason Jr. pressed on fighting for a good finish. His motor began to sputter and had electronic issues causing him to fall further back in the field and finish 11th. While the weekend didn’t shower Mason Jr. with luck, he is confident that his team is getting faster in each round and can contend for the podium in the final races of the season.
Geoffrey Cooley – Pro Buggy #22 Alumi Craft / Competitive Metals
Cooley began the race knowing he was the fastest car in practice on Friday. His confidence level was high, but a rare motor issue would keep him from contention. Shortly after the start of Saturday night’s round-9 Cooley’s motor began to sputter. To reset the electronics he had to turn the car on and off. He dropped back in the field and maintained as much speed as possible to finish out the night in the 13th position. Sunday was a new night and Cooley was looking forward to showcasing the speed of his Alumi Craft car. In addition to chasing a race win Cooley was considering his 3rd place position in the point’s championship. Starting 5th Cooley took the green flag and was fast on the first lap. On lap two Cooley’s car rolled over after taking contact from another car. Back on all four wheels he was running again and determined to have a strong finish despite the early race incident. By the competition caution Cooley had worked his way back into his original starting position of 5th. The podium was now back in sight. With a few laps remaining Cooley battled with the leaders finishing out the race just short of the podium, but still with an impressive comeback to 4th place.
Justin Smith – Pro Lite #19 Competitive Metals / Alumi Craft
The #19 Competitive Metals / Alum Craft Pro-Lite was strong once again in practice and started up front for both Saturday night’s round 9 and Sunday night’s round 10. But luck continued to plague Justin Smith. He led laps early on in Saturday night’s race. But loss of a power steering belt made it hard for Smith to hold onto the lead. He finished out the race 22nd with frustration that his talent was deterred by another mechanical issue. With a new day Smith was feeling good about Sunday’s round 10. He took the green flag and for the first three-laps was holding onto a top five position. Smith ran into trouble at turn two when his truck rolled over and a small fire started. Emergency crews quickly extinguished the fire and Smith was able to finish out the race in 21st. Smith will continue to look up, stay positive and ride out what has been a roller coaster of a season in his first full year in the Pro Lite class.
Nick Tyree – Pro 2
Nick Tyree was not at the Glen Helen event due to sustaining injuries from a crash at a Crandon race earlier this year. However, Nick attended the recent Lucas Oil Team Summit and was positive about his recovery and return to off-road racing. Team Competitive continues to wish Nick Tyree a strong recovery.