This year, Mason Diaz competed in his first full season in the ARCA Menards Series East, finishing fifth in the series standings. While the Virginia racer has stuck mostly to the Stock Cars in 2020, he’ll be climbing back in a Super Late Model for the 53rd Annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway.
Diaz entered eight ARCA Menards Series events, including the six-race ARCA East campaign and a pair of ARCA West races at All American Speedway and Kern County Raceway. He scored three top-five finishes in those eight races, including a runner-up showing at Kern County.
The year was about learning both the ARCA cars and new tracks, such as the West Coast facilities as well as venues like Bristol Motor Speedway.
“It was fun. It was a huge learning curve, going to different race tracks. Racing BMS this year was great. It wasn’t a season we wanted in ARCA. We got wrecked out the first race, we had parts failures. We had some of the fastest cars and it didn’t play out.”
Diaz also entered a pair of NASCAR Xfinity Series races for Sam Hunt Racing, competing at Phoenix Raceway and Martinsville Speedway.
“I got hooked up with Sam Hunt for those two races at Martinsville and Phoenix, and that was the blast. I hadn’t been to Phoenix before. That was a blast, just didn’t get the finish we wanted. Martinsville was a blast. It’s been a fun year. We’ve just got to figure out what we’re going to do moving forward.”
Now, Diaz returns to Five Flags Speedway to compete in the Snowball Derby. Diaz has made the December pilgrimage to Pensacola every year since 2016, competing in the Snowflake 100. This year, he will make the move to the Super Late Model for the Snowball Derby.
“I’ve ran the Snowflake since 2016, so I’ve run it the past three or four years. This year is no different, we’re focused strictly on the Super. The Pro is not coming. I’ve watched the last few races in person. Not too much different, it’s the same focus. It’s a lot more stiff competition, but it’s another race. You go into it with an open mind.”
Diaz has been fast at times during his Snowflake 100 appearances, but mechanical issues have prevented him from scoring the finishes he desires.
“The first year I went down there, we qualified, like, 18th and finished 10th. Every year from there, we picked up more speed. The second year I went, the rear-end broke in the race. The next year we finished fourth, and then last year the rear-end went out again.”
Diaz attempted the Snowball Derby in 2018, but was not among the 36 starters in the main event on Sunday. He admits the butterflies will come into play on Friday, when Super Late Model teams qualify in hopes of earning one of the top 30 starting spots in the field.
“Before then, we have to do all the work to get the car as fast as we can. There’s one job, and it’s to make the car fast. If you’re stressed out about making the car fast, you’re there Thursday and Friday just practicing, there’s nothing to be nervous about there.
“When you get to qualifying, that’s when it sinks in. After qualifying, if you make it, then you’re relaxed. Your job Sunday is to keep it in one piece on the last lap. We tried qualifying for the Derby a couple of years ago, but we had other issues.”
Fans unable to attend the Snowball Derby on December 2-6 at Five Flags Speedway can watch all of the week’s racing live on Speed51.TV by clicking here.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo