Don’t let the photo above fool you, Mason Diaz didn’t win Saturday’s South Carolina 400. In fact, Diaz didn’t even see the checkered flag at the event, finishing 23rd, retiring 12 laps before the scheduled 200 lap distance.
In fact, the circumstances surrounding his retirement from 200-lap competition on Saturday were some of the most bizarre in a while, after the 22-year-old jumped out of his car under caution and walked away.
The Manassas, Virginia native who has competed part-time between the NASCAR Xfinity Series and ARCA Menards Series since 2018, can be seen climbing out of his car, only to be met by members of his part-time Chad Bryant Racing team.
After the exit, FloRacing’s Jacklyn Drake spoke to Diaz on pit road, as the short track racer showed his displeasure with the management surrounding the event, specifically regarding his incidents with Sam Yarborough.
“This team, right here, they stand behind me,” Diaz told FloRacing. “We smashed 95, and nothing happened. I don’t even know why the warning came out ahead of time. Gave track [Yarborough] His place, wreck me, and never take my place again, until they can tow my car.”
The accidents indicated by Diaz occurred on consecutive restarts with less than 15 laps to go in the final stage. Fighting for the lead, Yarborough drifted high, dropping two tires off the track and spinning around.
Despite the incident, NASCAR officials allowed Yarborough to regain his position at the front of the field, meaning he would line up next to Mason Diaz on the next double-file restart, eventually leading to the second half of the issue.
– NASCARRoots November 20, 2022
After a long, heated debate while under the caution flag—in which, at one point, Yarborough took advantage of the car’s speed—Yarborough used the next restart as an opportunity to get revenge on Chad Bryant Racing driver, spinning him when the race went green again.
Diaz’s confusion – and his anger – appeared to stem largely from his being served to the end of the longer streak, which essentially ended his chances of winning the South Carolina 400, when Yarborough was not on the earlier caution.
“He took his place back at the last caution, so why can’t I get me back again,” he continued telling FloRacing while going down pit road. Apparently, NASCAR officials never distinguished the differences between the two events.
After the event, Chad Bryant, owner of Diaz’s entry, and winner of the last two editions of the South Carolina 400 with Ty Majeski, told Racing America’s Matt Weaver after the event that the flag-owner independently threw out the caution, and that race didn’t take control.
The Chad Bryant Racing crew says the author started out as a self-employed person, not the race director
for what it’s worth
– Matt Weaver (@MattWeaverRA) November 20, 2022
Take that knowledge and combine it with other related mishaps this weekend — Diaz’s frustrations for holding Diaz’s position, Earnhardt’s two end-of-the-line penalties, confusion from qualifying — and you have a very chaotic race at Florence Motor Speedway.
… However, that doesn’t take into account the fact that the event started two hours later than originally scheduled, which is why you’re seeing this story at 2:30am and not 12:30am.