USAR: Peach State II: Mike Mason race report

Mason's Bad Luck Continues Jefferson, Ga.-You can't blame Mike Mason if he decides to start carrying a rabbit's foot in his pocket in an effort to change his luck. Mason, one of the surprises of the first half of the 2006 USAR Hooters...

Mason's Bad Luck Continues

Jefferson, Ga.-You can't blame Mike Mason if he decides to start carrying a rabbit's foot in his pocket in an effort to change his luck.

Mason, one of the surprises of the first half of the 2006 USAR Hooters Pro Cup season, saw his string bad luck during the second half of the campaign continue Saturday when a mechanical problem sidelined his No. 75 Ford Taurus in the Aarons 250 at Peach State Speedway in Jefferson, Ga.

"This stretch of bad luck has got to end pretty soon," Mason stated after a rear-end gear failure saddled him with a 25th-place finish in the event. "You can only have so much bad luck. We've sure had more than our share lately. We've just got to keep paddling the boat so we don't sink."

After waiting out a long rain delay, Mason appeared to be headed for some smooth sailing on the Peach State half-mile paved oval as he was solidly in the top 10 during practice prior to the event Saturday. That all changed, however, when a pre-qualifying adjustment designed to make the car even faster didn't deliver the desired results.

"We got caught behind the eight-ball in qualifying," said Mason. "We didn't have enough gear in the car during practice and decided to change it before qualifying. The crew misunderstood what our crew chief Mark Huff wanted and went the wrong way with the gear change. We had way too much gear in the car on our qualifying run and I was hitting the rev limiter coming off the corner. Instead of qualifying up front, we were forced us to take a provisional."

Starting shotgun on the 32-car field, Mason carefully picked his way through traffic during the first half of the event and was running just outside the top 10 short of the 200-lap mark when his car suffered the first of two mechanical problems on the night.

"We fought our way through the field and we were biding our time," said Mason. "Then we had an A-arm bolt break in the front suspension and we lost a bunch of laps changing that. After we got that fixed, we were just riding around trying to keep the car in one piece so we could take it Bristol in a couple of weeks."

As a courtesy to the other competitors, Mason - now five laps down - stayed out of the way at the back of the field despite having one of the fastest cars in the race. Narrowly missing a couple of wrecks involving slower cars, Mason then saw his night end just a dozen laps from the 250-circuit distance when his car lost forward bite coming off of Turn 2.

"Something broke in the rear end," said Mason. "At first I thought the engine might have blown up, but I looked down at all the gauges and everything was fine there. I guess we lost something in the drive train. It just wouldn't go any more."

The mechanical problems marked the fourth-straight race Mason has been in position for a top-10 finish only to have come up short of the finish. That's a stark contrast to the first six races of the year in which the Bakersfield, Calif., native completed all but one lap.

"Yeah, it's pretty frustrating," said Mason. "Our problems aren't something you can put your finger on. Everyone is working hard and doing a good job. It's the kind of thing where if we didn't have bad luck, we wouldn't have any luck at all."

Shane Huffman won the event holding off a late-race charge by Clay Rogers. Justin Hobgood, Michael Ritch, Shane Wallace, pole sitter Bobby Gill, Matt Carter, Joey Logano, Ricky Turner and Jay Fogleman completed the Top-10 finishers.

Mason hopes his luck will finally take a turn for the better when the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Southern Division heads to Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and a 150-lap event at the famed half-mile, high-banked oval on Wednesday, August 23. The event will take the green flag at 7 p.m. Eastern Time.

"Bristol is an amazing place," said Mason. "Just testing there and looking up at the empty stands a couple of weeks ago was something. Racing there with the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and competing in front of a big crowd is really going to be a thrill. With any luck - good luck for a change - I think we can put on a great show and finally get the kind of finish our team is capable of and deserves."

-credit: mason motorsports

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Series Stock car
Drivers Clay Rogers , Justin Hobgood , Shane Huffman , Joey Logano