Last Saturday, Mason Diaz scored his best finish in the Rowdy Energy Super Select Series powered by Speed51, finishing third after a wild final two laps at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Now, the Virginia racer is hoping to continue that momentum with some home cooking
The Rowdy Energy Super Select Series visits Southern National Motorsports Park for its next event on a 10-race schedule. In the real world, Diaz cut his teeth racing at the 4/10-mile North Carolina facility, winning the Late Model Stock track championship there in 2017.
Diaz hopes that familiarity will translate to another strong run in the sim world, but also knows there are adjustments that have to be made. He discussed the upcoming race during an interview on Speed51’s “The Bullring” on Tuesday.
“It gives me a few advantages, because I know what the track is like personally,” Diaz said. “You have to take some of the real life experience out of it and realize we are racing a simulated version of it. Not everything will be perfect to a real-life situation.
“It is an advantage for me. I know everything about the track and could probably drive it with my eyes closed. But I have to take a step back and realize I can’t do this on this server, I have to adjust.”
When asked what some of the differences were between the digital replica of Southern National and the real-life track, he noted both how you drive the car around the track and how much quicker the iRacing Super Late Models get around the high-banked oval.
“I always look at the lap times. In real life, we don’t run 13-second lap times around Southern National. We run Super Late Models in qualifying, if it’s cold outside, a 14.9 to a 15.2. A Late Model Stock will run a 15.6 to a 16.0. It all varies.
“The way you drive a Super is normally drive it in the corner, hard on the brakes. With iRacing you tend to do the opposite. Every track is different. This one will be challenging for me than others because I’ve turned so many laps in real life versus in the game.”
Diaz enters the event carrying momentum from a third-place finish at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It was an attrition-filled race, but Diaz survived for a podium finish after 150 laps.
“I didn’t think it would end, ever. For a while there, it was caution after caution, which worked in my favor. Once we got the checkered flag, it was a relief and a great finish. I was happy with it.”
Diaz even faced his own challenges throughout the race, tangled up in incidents during both his heat race and the feature event.
“It was a not a perfect raceday for me. I got wrecked in my heat race. We actually got in a wreck with Kyle Busch in the first 50 laps, so we had to go to the rear again. It was a long race, so to finish up front after a day like that was a good feeling.”
The Rowdy Energy Super Select Series started as a platform for real-world short track racers such as Diaz to compete against one another during the COVID-19 pandemic. In recent weeks, some major racing stars have joined the fold, adding to the level of excitement.
NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch made his series debut during the third race of the season at Lucas Oil Raceway, while three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin appeared for the Las Vegas event.
Those entries have added some star power to the series. It has also increased the pressure on racers such as Diaz.
“Racing against Denny Hamlin or Kyle Busch, that’s really fascinating. That’s what we want to do on a weekly basis. This allows us to race against them.
“When they’re behind me, I have to step up my game now. I start breathing harder. I have to mentally focus. What am I going to do next to pass Kyle Busch or Denny Hamlin?”
Away from the virtual race track, Diaz has been working with his family’s business, The Sign Shop in Woodbridge, Virginia. The business has been using its resources to do what it can in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have a sign shop. I’ve been working back there, it’s a family company, just my sister, mom and dad. At work, I’m making COVID-19 signs and right now we’re working on face mask straps that go behind your head, so that nurses and doctors ears don’t hurt from wearing facemasks all day.”
Fans who missed the interview with Diaz can see the full segment on-demand by visiting http://speed51.com/thebullring.
The Rowdy Energy Super Select Series powered by Speed51 will compete at Southern National Motorsports Park on Saturday, April 18 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Fans can watch live on Speed51 at speed51.com/51selectseries.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans