INDIANAPOLIS – Venturini Motorsports will expand into the ARCA Menards Series East division with driver Mason Diaz next year.
Diaz, a 19-year-old native of Manassas, Va., joins Venturini Motorsports after making three starts in the ARCA Menards Series East, then known as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, last season in a car fielded by his father Michael Diaz.
“My expectation is to do the best we possibly can,” said Diaz. “I just have to make sure I don’t let the pressure get to me. This is a huge deal. It’s racing for the best of the best in the series. I’m going to be working hard with the team to figure out what’s best for us at the race track.”
One of the East races he competed in last year at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway came with behind-the-scenes technical support from Venturini Motorsports. That event, according to Venturini Motorsports General Manager Billy Venturini, directly led to the decision to hire the younger Diaz for Venturini’s ARCA Menards Series East program.
“We actually helped set up his car for Bristol last year, which was a little bit of a test of us also,” Venturini said. “It wasn’t a full blown Venturini Motorsports deal, but we did a lot with it. We pulled the car down, we put our springs in it, we helped set it up, we got it all ready for him.
“We kept analytics of the race. He was second fastest car throughout the race speed wise,” Venturini said. “I knew we were basically watching for speed. We just ran analytics on the time to see how fast he was and the only car that was faster on average speed was Sam Mayer. And that wasn’t even our full blown effort.
“We know right off the bat with this kid that we’ve got a shot.”
Next season is the first time that the ARCA Menards Series East and West rule books will be merged with the larger ARCA Menards Series rule book. The merger of the rule books made expanding into the ARCA Menards Series East a no-brainer for the Venturini team.
“That’s really what it was about. Now we have the same equipment. Then they put tracks on (the schedule) that we’re really familiar with,” Venturini said. “We’ve won at over half the tracks on the circuit already. It’s places I know we’re going to perform well. I already have a notebook on these places.
“Toledo, that’s our stomping ground. At Berlin we’re excellent. Pensacola we won last year. Nashville we won last year. We’ve run a couple K&N races and we ran second at Dover. Really, the majority of the races we already have a good notebook for and I feel like we’ll immediately compete. We’ll just jump right in and I think we’ll be able to contend.”
Diaz, who has made starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series in the last few years, said the deal with Venturini Motorsports came together following a conversation last weekend at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla.
“We had talked about doing stuff next year with our own stuff and somehow Billy figured it out,” Diaz said. “Billy just came up and talked to us at the Derby. We were down there racing the Snowflake and it just went from there. We’ve managed to figure out the deal and put it together on paper.”
Venturini said the most important part of expanding into the ARCA Menards Series East was making sure they kept the value and competition level of their program as high as possible. Venturini Motorsports won 14 of the 20 races on the ARCA Menards Series schedule last year in addition to the owner’s championship and the driver’s championship with Christian Eckes.
“We’ve really done, I think, a solid job the last few years,” Venturini said. “Our program has been the best in the ARCA premier series and I wanted to make sure that if we went to the East series that we had the foundation and the team core and the driver to go win, because we’ve got to win.”
Venturini also said that the team plans to make additional driver announcements for the 20-race ARCA Menards Series schedule in the near future, with at least two of them expected before the new year. He said the team plans to field three full-time cars next season in the ARCA Menards Series.
While there are no plans for him to do so right now, Diaz said he would love the chance to compete in some ARCA Menards Series events in addition to his East schedule with Venturini.
“I’m definitely not trying to throw those (races) out, but it’s all depends on what happens with us and the series and what best fits us in the situation,” Diaz said. “I’m thankful that we have this and it’s a huge opportunity.”