By Christian Koelle, Staff Writer
NASHVILLE – Mason Diaz showed up in Nashville with a mission. Leading 41 laps and finishing runner up, Diaz successfully showed that he and the No. 74 team are here and they mean business.
With one of the best runs in his ARCA East career, Diaz moved up to second in the ARCA East points standings and credits Saturday’s run to be more like a victory for his organization.
“Very solid night overall,” Diaz told Kickin’ the Tires. “Definitely some challenges today, since this is my first time here in an ARCA car and second time here ever. We definitely had some challenges we faced today. Qualifying sixth put us a little further behind than we wanted to but we didn’t waste any time going to the front. There was a little fluke up there with the No. 18 (Sammy Smith) getting black flagged so that opened the door for us to lead some laps and put us in a better position. We got some tires there in the end and lost some spots but we got them back there in the end and finished second. When that caution came out late we thought we might have a chance to get him there but he was in a different league the whole weekend. This is a win for our team, we’re a small budget team with not even a full-time crew on here so this is a win for us compared to some of the teams out here.”
Consistency has been the name of the game for Diaz this season but he is still seeking that elusive first victory. In 2021, Diaz has finished top-five in all three races. He joins Smith and Joey Iest as the only drivers to be permanent names in the top-five so far this season. Diaz spoke about his consistency this season and where he feels the No. 74 sits on the grid in the ARCA East.
“We’ve been fourth, second, second so far this season,” said Diaz. “We led some laps and if I had picked a different lane in that last restart at New Smyrna we might have had a win. We have been in contention every single race so far this year and that just shows what this team is capable of. We are a little bit behind the 18, but it’s Joe Gibbs so they are going to be ahead.”
Before the 2021 ARCA East Series season, Diaz had a career-best finish of fourth at Dover last season. The ARCA East Series heads to Dover this weekend for the General Tire 125. It will be his 10th career ARCA Menards Series East start. Diaz currently sits 15 points behind points leader Smith.
Photo: Christian Koelle/Kickin’ the Tires