Category Archives: Southern National Motorsports Park

Southern National’s Mason Diaz Scores Top 10 Finish in First Appearance at Five Flags Speedway

diaz1Pensacola, FL – For years now Five Flags Speedway has been the destination for racers from all over the country in the month of December. The Snowball Derby is a race that really needs no introduction at all. Some of the biggest names in short track racing and NASCAR have competed. This year saw an entry from one of the Mid-Atlantic’s very own – Mr. Mason Diaz.

Diaz, just 16 years of age from Manassas, Virginia, has spent most of his racing career in an INEX Legend car running at Southern National Motorsports Park in Kenly, North Carolina while making the transition to stock car racing with the help of Late Model veteran Mike Darne. Coming off of a successful weekend at the 2016 Thanksgiving Classic winning a unique Legends Cup race and finishing third in the main event, Diaz packed his race bag up and headed south to attempt to enter his very first Snowflake 100.

“We knew we were fast enough,” Diaz commented about practice earlier in the week. “Couple practices towards the end we were top ten; it was just a matter of making it into the race.”

With the Snowflake being an impound race Diaz and his crew were not allowed to touch the cars after they went through technical inspection which set them up for the nerve-wracking qualifying session. Going into Saturday the team figured times would be close to 16.8, when cars started clocking in times down in the sixes, Diaz knew he just had to hit his marks and drive his line.

“I knew the car was fast enough it was just a matter of if I could put the lap down,” Diaz said. “The first lap I ran a 16.84 which put us in the race alone and the second lap was a 16.82 so we knew we were good.”

A new track in a new state running with drivers you are not familiar with can be tough. When it came down to race day Diaz just took things one position at a time working his way to the front and staying out of trouble.

“It was pretty much all a new experience for me,” Diaz said. “My thing was just making the race. During the race, I just wanted to keep the car in one piece and finish the race. I don’t think I was ready for a top ten finish myself.”

diaz2Diaz started the race off strong passing cars right from the start. Running the inside lane around Five Flags Speedway along with a few cautions flags throughout the night allowed for Diaz to pick his way through the field one at a time. Spending most of the event running mid pack late race cautions, along with some smooth driving, is what Diaz attests to helping him with the top ten finish.

“I followed behind some of the guys that run down there regularly,” Diaz said about his finish. “Augie Grill, who went on to win the race actually started behind me, so I followed him a lot throughout the race and just learned everything I could.”

Keeping the nose clean and running behind some of the veterans on the race clearly paid off for the young Virginia who gets to take home a top ten finish in one of the biggest Pro Late Model races in the country. Things did not come easy for Diaz who told us there was a rather large learning curve when it came to the lines around Five Flags, it was certainly something he had never experienced before.

“I have never run a track with a swooping front stretch in a big car,” Diaz commented for one. “Also turns one and two can kill you! Three and four are important too but the lines you run there are just so important in the first two turns. Mike Darne Racing gave me a great car this weekend and turn three and four was such a dominant corner for me in my book and is where I made most of my passes.”

Diaz also went on to comment how the racing surface mimicked Myrtle Beach Speedway – a track he has yet to compete on in any form of racing – when it comes to the tire wear. He went on to explain tire management was something similar to Hickory Motor Speedway and how important it was to keep the right rear tire on the car to take you to the end.

After traveling almost a thousand miles, entering a race where you know there is a potential to not make it in on time, in one of the largest stages of his young career we ask Mason, pretty much knowing the answer already, what this finish meant to him and his career moving forward.

“This is a huge confidence booster,” said Diaz. “Most people say it’s harder to make the Snowflake than it is the Derby with these cars being so close and a lot of drivers running both. It’s just huge for me especially with the top nine cars were ones that run there locally and have been running for years.”

The Snowflake 100 puts a cap on Mason Diaz’s 2016 campaign and the top ten finish was like the cherry on top for Mason Diaz Racing. The guys will have a few short months to prepare things for next season, which already looks to be a busy one for the guys.

“We are going to run speed weeks down at New Symrna this February,” Mason told The Weekly Racer. “We are going to run Late Model Stocks for most of the year and go for Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series in both North Carolina and Virginia for sure. Maybe see how things go in South Carolina depending on how many rookies run and maybe even for the entire nation, just all depends on how things go. We are also going to shoot for state titles in Virginia and North Carolina as well.”

To follow Mason through his journey in 2017 head over to his Facebook page, Mason Diaz Racing, and give them a like.

Brenden Queen Turns Almost Nothing Into Something; Crowned Runner-up in 2016 Thanksgiving Classic

Brenden Queen finishes just behind Tommy Lemons Jr in the 2016 Thanksgiving Classic. (Casey Kern/

Brenden Queen finishes just behind Tommy Lemons Jr in the 2016 Thanksgiving Classic. (Casey Kern/

Chesapeake, VA – You know how they say that bad things come in threes? 2016 East Carolina Motor Speedway Late Model Stock champion Brenden Queen was all too familiar with that over the weekend.

Things started off early Friday morning when Queen’s rig broke down on the way to pick up the car hauler. This would effect the time the car would arrive at the track. After securing a new rig, hooking up, and heading down south they discovered a tire going down on the trailer which would effect the arrival time even worse. The issues didn’t stop there however, after arriving more than two hours into morning practice the crew discovered a noise coming from the engine compartment. A bad lifter was the diagnoses from pit road – their weekend was over before it really began.

If we have learned anything in previous interviews with the young Chesapeake, Va driver it’s that Queen Motorsports tends to never give. Team owner Mike Queen and Crew Chief Phil Warren had to go to work and find their driver a motor. Luckily for them fellow competitor Mike Darne had a Ford crate motor he was able to rent the team for the weekend. Spending the rest of the afternoon and evening swapping out motors. Trying to get parts and pieces and their chassis to match up was not the easiest thing they have done. However, when final practice rolled around Saturday morning the driver and crew were ready to roll.

“Really worked on making sure the replacement motor was running good,” Queen said about practice on Saturday. “We couldn’t find any drive off. Just kept working at it.”

Work on it they did as they qualified tenth out of twenty-eight cars that took time Saturday afternoon (31 cars would eventually start the feature). A small victory for a team that has already been through so much in just 24 hours. It proved they had a solid piece with them and with patience and good driving they could be there at the end.

The first half of the race was relatively calm. Drivers getting into their rhythm, figuring out their lines, and trying to save tires. Queen had his work cut out for him the first half of the race trying to work his way up through the field. At one point he had fallen to almost the twentieth position trying to make the high line work on a restart. Doing what he has done some many times throughout his championship run, Queen leaned on the guidance from his crew chief, spotter and mentor – Phil Warren. We asked Brenden once all the dust calmed down and things were back to normal we asked Queen to just put into words his emotions going into the race after having what seemed to be the weekend from hell.


Working through the afternoon to change motors. (Justin Kern/

“To be honest with you it was the same attitude we had Friday that we used in the race,” Queen would answer. “Just kept a never give up attitude. I thought we were going home early after the motor broke Friday afternoon but my dad stepped in and made it happen. Can’t thank him enough for everything he does for my team.

The halfway break occurred around lap 106 where teams could come down pit road and make minor adjustments, add fuel and change up to two tires. The top six drivers were also inverted before they were set loose for the final one hundred laps – or so we thought. Queen knew it was time to get up on the wheel and make things happen as this was going to be the hardest part of the race.

“We never adjusted anything,” Queen commented on the halfway break. “The race started and we were good just couldn’t get the track position. Left it alone at halfway just had to fix damage where the 51 missed a shift. We really kept fighting and worked our way up to about sixth. We got lucky on one of those restarts and ended up getting to third. That last restart there I gave Tommy a run for his money and gave him a little shot going into three on the final lap but didn’t want to spin him for the win. I would hope to be raced the same way if it was the other way around. Congrats to those guys but man we were so close.”

The second place finish would be the highest finish Queen has recorded at Southern National as well as the highest finish in the big post season races of 2016 (10th at Martinsville, 7th at Myrtle Beach) and put a cap on the 2016 season for Brenden. When asked about this season and what it has meant to him and his crew all he could tell The Weekly Racer was it was unbelievable.

“It’s a unbelievable feeling to look back at how far we have come since last December,” Queen went on to explain. “Lots of hard work and dedication. We came into this season with our mind set on one thing, to win a race. Here we are going into Christmas having won four times, earned our first track championship in a Late Model and competing with some of the biggest names on the biggest stages.  I’m very thankful for everything and don’t take it for granite.”

Brenden was not able to give an exact idea on what the plans were for 2017 but one could only imagine after having a break out year like they had in 2016 – who knows what is in store for them when the green flag drops next February.

Christian Eckes Wins From the Pole at Southern National; Carries Momentum Into Snowball Derby


Lucama, NC – Two weekends and two victories for the Middletown, New York native Christian Eckes. After a thrilling victory over JRM teammate Josh Berry in the Late Model Stock portion of the Myrtle Beach 400, Eckes entered the 2016 Thanksgiving Classic with his Super Late Model

Eckes was the only car in the twelve-car field to lay down a sub 14-second lap to claim the pole Saturday afternoon. That speed clearly transferred into Sunday’s race as Christian set the pace early in the 125-lap feature. Colt James, the red number fifteen in the field was the only car able to really give him a run for his money and keep him honest. Some decent racing took place behind the two but it was clear Eckes and James were the class of the field.

The race was only slowed by two cautions. First, we had an issue with a car on the backstretch. This gave Colt James the shot he needed to get around Eckes and set the pace he wanted to run. The second caution, however, was the #15 of Colt James who lost power and coasted on the racing surface. James was able to get his car down pit road and had to nose his machine into his pit stall.

This gave the control of the race back to Christian Eckes, which was the final nail in the coffin. Have to tip our hat to Jake Crum who gave it all he had on the final restart but just didn’t have enough under him, Eckes was able to drive away from the field to earn his first Super Late Model victory.

“We had a really good car this weekend,”Eckes when we caught up with him in victory lane. “We unloaded really strong and stayed that way. I got a little worried there when Colt passed me, really just sucks for him to have a mechanical issue he had a really good car. I am just really happy for all my guys, we worked really hard for this race and it paid off, I am just really thankful to be here.”

Coming off the victory at Myrtle Beach and now Southern National, Eckes is heading into the Snowball Derby next weekend with two consecutive victories and momentum on his side. “We built a brand new car for the derby so we should have a good shot,” Eckes explained. “The momentum is going to be big for me. This is my first victory in the super, we have just had so much bad luck this year it’s not even funny. To win last week and this week it’s a big sigh of relief you know. Both wins are huge for me and it will pay off heading into the derby.”


UNOFFICIAL Accent Imaging SLM Results

1) #15 Christian Eckes; 125
2) #57 Austin Theriault; 125
3) #8 Tate Folgeman; 125
4) #01 Jake Crum; 125
5) #67 Clay Jones; 125
6) #55 Kevin Floars; 125
7) #25 Michael Faulk; 125
8) #25 Anthony Alfredo; 125
9) #98 Jody Meesmer; 117
10) #15 Colt James; 94 – Engine
11) #7 Tyler Church; 84 – Mechanical
12) #17 Darren Shaw; DNS

Tommy Lemons Jr. Wins 2016 Thanksgiving Classic in Over Time

Tommy Lemons, Jr. celebrates in victory lane with wife and daughter after winning 2016 Thanksgiving Classic.

Tommy Lemons, Jr. celebrates in victory lane with wife and daughter after winning 2016 Thanksgiving Classic.

Lucama, NC – An overtime win in any sport is intense. Going an extra twenty-nine laps in an advertised 200 lap race can wreck havoc on the mind and patience of any driver and crew chief. Tommy Lemons Jr. however, was able to do just that and survive the mayhem that ensued behind him. Lemons started fourth when the green flag flew and immediately worked his way to the front of the field. With a little bit of good luck and great restarts Lemons was able to survive multiple late race restarts and a rather long overtime period.

Lemons, who looked strong all day long, stayed toward the front of the field battling the likes of Lee Pulliam, Justin Johnson and Josh Berry – who coincidently did not finish the race. A few cautions early in the first half of the race bunched everyone up creating some pretty interesting restart. McCaskill & Lemons would trade positions a few more times before the halfway break – which was extended to lap 106 due to an extended caution for clean up.

A six-car invert after the ten-minute break put Nick Smith on the pole for the restart and Tommy Lemons Jr. sixth for the final 100 laps. Feeling good about the car Lemons slapped two fresh tires on the right side of the car and kept the car the same and got at it for the final half of the race. Lemons got settled in line when the green flag waived letting things get worked out. It didn’t take long for things to get wild again after Lee Pulliam, who took total control of the race, went to pass the lap car of Maddy Mulligan and second place Justin Johnson had to split her going down the back stretch. Mulligan pushed up slightly out of four upsetting Johnsons car who eventually looped it.

This put Lemons second on the first attempt at a green, white, checkered with Matt McCall third. That is when things got really interesting. On the restart Pulliam looked to get a bad jump and got a pretty big shove by Matt McCall, who lined up directly behind him into turn one, which sent him for a ride as well as tore up some other racecars. When the dust settled and cars got back to the line Tommy Lemons Jr. was able to make it out of the mess and assume the lead.

Took three attempts at a Green-White-Checkered and twenty-nine extra laps but Lemons was able to hold off three restarts and a shot from 2016 East Carolina Motor LMSC champion Brenden Queen to win the 2016 Thanksgiving Classic. We caught back up with Tommy Lemons in victory lane to talk about his strategy after the break and what the team needed to do to survive overtime.

“Yea we were really good there in that first half and decided not to make any changes,” Lemons said in victory lane. “It worked out that we are here in victory lane but if we had it to do over again we probably would of made some adjustment. Our car was just a little bit off putting just those two tires on the right side. We probably had a third place car if it hadn’t been for those late race cautions but everything worked out for us.”

In one of the longest over time attempts The Weekly Racer has ever experienced, we asked Lemons what was going through his headset and if the extra laps changed what he needed to do to win the race.

“It was pretty quiet on our radio,” Lemons explained. “I think the only conversation was between me and one of the race directors about the sun getting into one, other than that it was pretty quiet.”

Tommy Lemons Jr., a two time Martinsville Speedway winner and 2014 SNMP track champion, had a strong 2016 spending the season battling McCaskill for the championship in the CARS Tour was excited to finally get a Thanksgiving Classic title under his belt after letting it slip though his fingers eight years ago.

“One of them [Thanksgiving Classic] got away from us back in 2008 and its been a tough road getting back here,” said Lemons. “We’ve had plenty of good cars here and just couldn’t cap it off. To finally get it back here in victory lane is great, I am the only one who gets to sit all off season, or at least till February and say I am the winner and that’s a good feeling.”

Lemons was pretty excited to go into the off season with victory as well as looking forward to having a few more customers come on board to Jumpstart Motorsports.

“We don’t really know just yet,” Lemons went on to explain. “Things are still kind of up in the air. We got a few customers come on board for next year and we will just see where it takes us.”



1) #27 Tommy Lemons Jr; 229
2) #03 Brenden Queen; 229
3) #51 Matt McCall; 229
4) #08 Deac McCaskill; 229
5) #4 Jonathan Findley; 229
6) #55 Mark Wertz; 229
7) #38 Ricky Jones III; 229
8) #99 Lyane Riggs; 229
9) #21a Tim Allensworth; 229
10) #8 Tyler Hughes; 229
11) #77 Connor Hall; 229
12) #7 Michael Hardin; 229
13) #M3 Shelton McNair; 229
14) #8 Josh Oakley; 229
15) #10 Maddy Mulligan; 229
16) #82 Mike Ganoe; 229
17) #19 Bubba Johnston; 228
18) #17 Stacy Puryear; 216
19) #44 Justin Johnson; 201
20) #5 Lee Pulliam; 200
22) #50 Haley Moody; 194
23) #9 Charlie Watson; 152
24) #88 Josh Berry; 129
25) #19 Cameron Bowen; 88
26) #1g Andrew Grady; 86
27) #21 Mike Darne; 63
28) #29 Paul Williamson; 63
29) #2 Myatt Snider; 62
30) #28 Jason Barnes; 49
31) #12 Austin Thaxton; 34

Bradley McCaskill Sets The Pace In The Limited Late Model Finale Saturday Night

Bradley McCaskill celebrates in victory lane after winning Saturday nights Limited Late Model feature with car owner, mom, and crew. (Justin Kern/

Bradley McCaskill celebrates in victory lane after winning Saturday nights Limited Late Model feature with car owner, mom, and crew. (Justin Kern/

Lucama, NC – It was Bradley McCaskill’s race from start to finish in Saturday nights 75 lap Mini’s Mission “Burn Rubber to Help Another” Limited Late Model feature. McCaskill, 27 from Knightdale, North Carolina, was second fastest earlier in the afternoon only to Alex Fleming. McCaskill and Fleming would be the pair to watch for most of the evening, as the two were in a league of their own.

“We got a great jump there at the start and got the lead,” McCaskill said after the race. “Our plan was to get up there and kind of set the pace and do what we need to do to save tires. Alex definitely ran us a lot harder than we anticipated and pushed me a lot harder than I wanted to go. I think he hurt his stuff there a little to much and we ended up getting back by him.”

Give credit to Alex Fleming, who will look to start his Super Late Model Sunday afternoon, for keeping young Bradley McCaskill honest all race long. The first half of the race Fleming applied plenty of pressure to the leader until he was able to get under and around McCaskill and even hold off an attempted cross over move. Fleming would hang onto the lead for about ten laps when McCaskill decided it was time to go and regained his spot at the top of the leader board with twenty-four laps to go.

Once he got around Fleming there it was nothing more than navigating his way through some lap traffic and staying smooth. Behind them was also some great racing for the final positions within the top five as well. Karl Budzevski, driver of the #26 was practically in a league of his own while Kenneth Mercer & Tim Allensworth had some fun.

It was clear by the end of the race that McCaskill had the car to beat Saturday night. In the car that won the 2016 Ronnie Barnnett Memorial at East Carolina Motor Speedway with Louis White behind the wheel, we asked Bradley if the cold weather had anything to do with the teams strategy going into the 75-lap feature.

“I think that’s where we had a little bit of an advantage,” said McCaskill. “The track gripped up a little more than I anticipated, I thought we were going a little to hard there for the track temperature but I guess it had a little bit more grip in it than I thought.”

Bradley went on to tell us that he might make the needed changes on the car and start the Late Model Stock race that will roll off the grid approx. 2:00 PM Sunday afternoon. Telling us that car owner Louis White said he could drive it if he wanted to. Grandstands are set to open Sunday morning around 9:45 AM with an on track driver autograph session scheduled for 10:15 – 11:30 AM. Pre race ceremonies should kick off at 11:45 followed by the green flag for the Super Late Model feature at 12:01 PM.


Mini’s Mission 75 Results
1) #7 Bradley McCaskill
2) #05 Alex Fleming
3) #26 Karl Budzevski
4) #24 Kenneth Mercer
5) #21 Tim Allensworth
6) #24 Colin Garrett
7) #M3 Shelton McNair, Jr.
8)  #87 Mini Tyrell
9)  #61 Michael O’Brien
10) #00 David West
11) #21 Gerald Benton
12.) #29 Bian Obiedzenski
13) #31 Wayne Goss
14) #82 Mike Ganoe
15) #91 Chris Elliott
16) #28 Justin Gill
17) #07 Ronald Renfrow

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