Roscoe, Illinois’ Austin Nason had a career year in the ARCA Midwest Tour. He won two races on the season, including in the season-opening Joe Shear Classic at Madison International Speedway in Wisconsin. Overall, he finished second in the series points standings, coming just five points short of season champion Dalton Zehr.
However, his season will not end with the Midwest Tour finale. After competing in this weekend’s Florida Governor’s Cup 200 at New Smyrna Speedway, Nason will travel upstate to compete in the 51stAnnual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway. It will be his first attempt to run the country’s biggest asphalt short track race.
“It’s always been on the list of races we wanted to run,” Nason told Speed51.com. “We’ve had a lot of speed and momentum this year and had a good year. We’re actually driving down right now to head to the Governor’s Cup, so I figured we get two cars ready and leave them down here and we’ll fly back down at the end of November to race, so it was kind of a planned ordeal to drive in the Governor’s Cup and then just go over and run the Derby to save time.”
Nason held the ARCA Midwest Tour points lead through most of the 2018 season and held the top spot going into the season-ending Oktoberfest 200 at LaCrosse, but was unable to close the season as champion. However, he hopes to use the momentum gained from a good season to catapult him to a strong run at the Snowball Derby.
“We had a good year,” Nason said about his 2018 season in the ARCA Midwest Tour. “I wish we could’ve won the championship, but things happen. It wasn’t meant to be, I guess. We have some long races on the (Midwest) Tour, but we have controlled pit stops, not live pit stops. It’ll definitely help with the longer races. We ran some of the other big races this year and ran well in them, so I think that will help us down there.”
A driver’s first time at any track has its share of new challenges, especially when it comes to becoming acclimated to the track. The test becomes heightened when it is at the Snowball Derby. Nason has put in time to become more prepared before even traveling to the Sunshine State.
“It’s just trying to get a hold of the track,” Nason said. “I’ve watched a ton of videos and I’ve been on iRacing. The biggest thing is just getting the hang of it. We’ve got a date there to go test the week before, so we’re going to hopefully find some speed. We just have to qualify, that’s going to be our biggest ordeal. I think we’ll be good in the race. We’ve been good in these long races this year, so hopefully can do that then.”
Nason will be one of several drivers that will attempt to make the Snowball Derby for the first time. He says if he were able to win and take the Tom Dawson Trophy back to Illinois, it would be big for his race team.
“It’s the best of the best Super Late Model drivers around the country coming to all race for one trophy,” Nason stated, “so if we win it, it’ll be a big one on the list. It’ll definitely be number one, but if we win it I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
The 51st Annual Snowball Derby will take place on Wednesday, November 28 through Sunday, December 2 at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL. For more information regarding the event, visit Snowball Central presented by Schaeffer’s Specialized Lubricants.
-By Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (Indiana and Michigan) - Twitter: @KGeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com