KC HILITES BLOG
2016 Lucas Oil Nationals Rounds 3 & 4 Race Report
Written by: Mitchell Alsup
The 2016 Lucas Oil season is underway and Team DeBerti is charging into the Lucas Oil Regionals and Nationals with a solid schedule. Driver, Brad DeBerti, has managed multiple podium finishes in his Support Our Troops Pro Lite in the 2016 season after clinching the 2015 Lucas Oil Rookie of the Year. Along with being one of the top competitors in the Pro Lite class, Brad signed with Cognito Motorsports as their full time Polaris RZR short course driver. The Cognito Motorsports RZR will allow Brad more seat time on race weekends, pushing the team further in the racing industry.
As we catch up with Brad and Team DeBerti, we look at last weekends Lucas Oil Round 3 & 4 in Lake Elsinore. The DeBerti team departed DeBerti Compound, Pismo Beach, on Thursday to make the trip to Lake Elsinore, capturing another successful race weekend. With the pits set up and the Support Our Troops Pro Lite prepped and ready to go, Brad suited up early Friday for the practice rounds. Brad and Team DeBerti worked through the practice rounds to find the speed needed for qualifying and race day. With multiple gear changes and suspension adjustments, Brad had adapted to the track and the speed was becoming consistent.
After dialing the Pro Lite in during practice, Brad felt ready for qualifying. Lucas Oil qualifying practices a ‘NO Contact Policy’ which was violated when Brad was hit early on in the qualifying round. Brad was able to save the Pro Lite from any major damage, but was unable to find the speed that was needed. After the qualifying rounds, Brad and Team DeBerti started the Lucas Oil Round 3 in the 9th position. Brad was in good spirit despite starting mid-pack stating, “That’s okay, I still had a blast trying to figure out the track and we will push hard to get back up to the front.” The team was back at the hauler making a few minor fixes and adjustments to the Pro Lite before Saturday’s race.
Saturday came quick and Brad suited up, ready to get behind the wheel of his Pro Lite. With the grandstands full and tickets sold out, Lake Elsinore was ready to watch one of the top contenders work his way to the front. 9th position was nothing Brad couldn’t handle, but Brad knew he had his work cut out for him. The green flag dropped, Brad passed two full rows of Pro Lite’s moving to 5th rapidly. As Brad set the Pro Lite up for turn number one, another competitor hit Brad’s front driver side smashing him into the safe fence and ripping the passenger front wheel off. Team DeBerti waited in the hot pits for Brad, but the damage was too severe to continue, ending Round 3 for Team DeBerti.
With Round 4 on Sunday, Team DeBerti promptly diagnosed the damage on the Pro Lite at the hauler, recognizing the Pro Lite was hurt and beyond repair at the track. Team DeBerti runs off a ‘can do, never give up’ mentality, meaning the teams next move was rolling the back-up Pro Lite out of the hauler. Unfortunately, the back-up Pro Lite was set up completely different and the team was unaware of the outcome of racing a Pro Lite with an incompatible set-up on the slick Lake Elsinore track. Brad expressed his concerns, “Pull the spare truck out of the trailer, I will drive it!” in true racer fashion.
As Sunday’s endeavors began, Brad jumped in the back-up Pro Lite and went straight into qualifying. After a few laps of driver adjustments, Brad qualified, gaining an 11th place starting position. Brad was satisfied knowing he managed the unfamiliar, unprepared Pro Lite for a short qualifying round to then be starting nearly top ten. As the green flag dropped for Lucas Oil Round 4, Brad intently carried his momentum to the front of the field. In 14 laps, Brad moved six Pro Lite’s out of his way, getting the Support Our Troops Pro Lite a top five finish. The Pro Lite class is one of the most competitive classes in short course, grooming young drivers to be legendary off-road racers. Team DeBerti and Brad were satisfied with the outcome of the weekend considering the challenges they had to overcome. The ability to drive a Pro Lite unprepared for the track conditions and give the team a top 5 finish is an accomplishment in and of itself.