Don’t let the photo above fool you, Mason Diaz did not win the South Carolina 400 on Saturday. In fact, Diaz didn’t even see the checkered flag in the event, finishing 23rd, retiring 12 laps short of the scheduled 200-lap distance.
Indeed, the circumstances surrounding his retirement from Saturday’s 200-lap contest were some of the strangest in a while, after the 22-year-old climbed straight into his car under caution and walked away.
The Manassas, Virginia native, who has competed part-time between the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the ARCA Menards Series since 2018, can be seen climbing out of his car, to be greeted on pit road by members of his Chad Bryant Racing team .
After leaving, FloRacing’s Jacklyn Drake spoke to Diaz while walking down pit road, where the tenured short track racer expressed his displeasure with the officiating surrounding the event, specifically regarding his incidents with Sam Yarborough.
“This team, right here, they’re standing behind me,” Diaz told FloRacing. “We got wrecked by the No. 95, nothing happened. I don’t even know why the caution came out in the first place. The track gave [Yarborough] his seat back, he wrecked me, and I couldn’t get my seat back, so they could tow my car.”
The incidents cited by Diaz occurred on back-to-back restarts with less than 15 laps to go into the final stage. While battling for the lead, Yarborough drifted high, dropped two tires off the track and spun around.
Despite the incident, NASCAR officials allowed Yarborough to regain his position at the front of the field, meaning he would line up alongside Mason Diaz on the next double-file restart, ultimately leading into the second half. a problem.
— NASCAR Roots (@NASCARRoots) November 20, 2022
After a long, heated discussion while under the caution flag – which at one point, almost brought the car out of speed – Yarborough used the next restart as an opportunity to get revenge on the Chad Bryant Racing driver, which spun him around when the race went back to green. .
Diaz’s confusion – and anger – apparently stemmed from being sent to the tail-end of the longest line, essentially ending his chances of winning the South Carolina 400, without Yarborough on the previous caution.
“He got his spot in the last caution, so why can’t I get mine back,” he continued to tell FloRacing while walking down pit road. Apparently, NASCAR officials never actually distinguish the differences between the two events.
After the event, Chad Bryant, the owner of Diaz’s entry, and the winner of the last two iterations of the South Carolina 400 with Ty Majeski, told Matt Weaver of Racing America after the event, that the flagger was independent keeping, and that career. control is not.
The Chad Bryant Racing crew said the flagger went into business for himself and issued the caution and not the race director.
For what it is worth
— Matt Weaver (@MattWeaverRA) November 20, 2022
Take that knowledge and combine it with this weekend’s other officiating-related mishaps – Diaz’s position-keeping failures, Earnhardt’s two end-of-line penalties, and confusion from qualifying – and you had a pretty messy race at Florence Motor Speedway.
…and yet, that doesn’t account for the fact that the event started two hours later than originally scheduled, which is why you’re seeing this story at 2:30 AM, and not 12:30 AM.