MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Coming into race day for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Martinsville Speedway, you might have been hard-pressed to find a lot of people who knew the name Mason Diaz.
Following 21 Means 21 Pole Qualifying, however, the home state favorite made sure everyone knew not only who he was, but that he will be a factor in the Texas Roadhouse 200 presented by Alpha Energy Solutions (1 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM).
Diaz, a 17-year-old late model racer from Manassas, Va. who has spent much of his short track career of-late competing at Southern National Motorsports Park in Kenly, N.C., shocked the masses at the Martinsville half-mile by posting the third-fastest lap in the opening knockout round.
But his speed didn’t stop there.
Diaz continued to survive and advance, slotting in seventh in round two before landing ninth in the third and final round, placing him inside of the fifth row for his Truck Series debut.
It was a series of runs that Diaz said he, quite simply, “never dreamed was possible.”
“It’s unbelievable, I can’t believe we just did that,” Diaz said. “Yesterday, my first time ever sitting in the truck was for race practice. I just went out there, learned the truck, figured it out and today we went out for qualifying and that just happened.”
“I’m overwhelmed, but I love it. My goal was just to make it to the second round, let alone have a shot in the final round. It’s incredible … I’m so blessed.”
Diaz’s No. 86 Prince William Marina Chevrolet wasn’t necessarily flashy in practice, sitting 23rd and 17th after the two Friday sessions, but it was consistent and gave the young driver confidence in his abilities.
“Yesterday, looking at practice speeds, I know we weren’t that far off … but I wasn’t expecting ninth at all. I was expecting 15th or so, to be completely honest with you. I’m tickled about it really. Brandonbilt Motorsports built a great truck for me this weekend. I think for the race, we have a pretty good piece for it … so we’ll go from there and see what happens. This is already a great day.”
Though Diaz is a hometown driver, he has cut his teeth primarily away from his home area, competing regularly at Southern National and claiming five wins en route to the track title in the late model stock division this year.
However, he did recently compete in the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 with his late model stock car, gaining valuable experience on the half-mile oval in advance of this weekend’s Truck Series action.
“I was here a few weeks ago, racing in the 300 and running up front, but we just didn’t get the final result I wished we could have,” Diaz said. “This track is amazing, though. For my first time being here in a truck … the weekend has already gone great and I just hope we can carry it through for 200 more laps.”
Diaz did admit that he’s gone through a bit of a transition period in adapting to the truck from his late model.
“It’s way different than anything I’ve done before and I’ve just had to get adjusted to it,” said Diaz of the truck. “The horsepower and handling are all new … I had no idea how it would go, but so far I think we’ve done pretty well so far.”
And what would he consider a successful end to the race?
“Hopefully I can complete all the laps; that was my goal coming into the weekend and I’m standing by that,” Diaz explained. “I want to be smooth on-track and keep the fenders on it. I know there’s a lot of guys racing for a lot bigger things out there today, but any time you’re in a race car, you want to do the best you can for your team.”
“I just want to finish the weekend strong and keep this momentum rolling. I’m so blessed, man … this is unbelievable.”
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 23-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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