Stephen Nasse didn’t start his week at New Smyrna Speedway the way he wanted, but he couldn’t have ended it any better Saturday night. The driver from Pinellas Park, Florida started from the pole and led all 100 laps to add a win in the week-ending Orange Blossom 100 to his resume.
Prior to Saturday night’s race, Nasse had recorded finishes of 13th, fifth, third, sixth and third in five starts. While those performances were not dismal, the expectations were higher for one of the top Super Late Model racers in the country.
With a favorable invert of four putting him on the pole after qualifying, Nasse jumped out to a quick lead over his chief rival Bubba Pollard. His biggest challenge of the race came from defending ARCA Menards Series East champion Jesse Love, who peaked to the inside of the No. 51 Super Late Model multiple times during the middle stage of the race. Eventually, he used the aid of lapped traffic to gain an advantage and pull away over the final 20 laps.
“I wasn’t really ever confident. The 21 car (Love) was really good all night,” Nasse said on the NBC Trackpass broadcast. ” He definitely put some pressure on me and luckily we hit some lapped cars, and I was able to get a pretty good gap. The 51 car was pretty good tonight. Jett Motorsports worked really hard this weekend. We’re still off a little bit, but we pulled through and got a lucky starting spot tonight being able to start on the front row. I feel like the key to winning something this week was starting on the front row, so we were able to do it tonight and it feels really good after 100 laps.”
The victory was the eighth Super Late Model win of his career at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing and his first in the 100-lap finale. It also came one night after winning the 100-lap Pro Late Model finale at New Smyrna.
“It always feel good to add a different win to your resume no matter where it is, but to be here with all my family — sister, mom, dad, niece and nephews — it doesn’t get any better than that.”
After pressuring Nasse fiercely for a handful of laps, Love recorded his second runner-up finish of the week. At the end of the night, he was frustrated to come up short after having what he considered to be the best car in the race.
“No excuses for that. I just wasn’t good enough tonight,” Love said. “I had the car to beat, he’s one of the best in the business and just got me tonight. I feel bad for my team. We had the best car tonight and we didn’t win. I don’t take that stuff lightly, so I’ll go and keep trying. I want to win bad.”
Sammy Smith, who picked up a win last Sunday, completed the podium on Saturday night. Hometown favorite Brad May finished fourth and Bubba Pollard completed a tough week with his only top-five finish.
Derek Griffith finished ninth to become the first repeat Super Late Model champion in 20 years at the World Series. Speed51 will have more on Griffith’s championship performance soon.
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-Story by: Brandon Paul, Speed51 Director of Content – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51 / Will Bellamy
Orange Blossom 100 Unofficial Results
New Smyrna Speedway (FL) – February 13, 2021