UPDATE: Stephen Nasse has been disqualified from his win in the Snowball Derby for a titanium violation in the brake system. Travis Braden has passed technical inspection and is the official winner of the race. More information will be coming soon. Stay tuned to Speed51 for further updates.
On Monday night at Five Flags Speedway (FL), Stephen Nasse was the class of the field at the 52nd Annual Snowball Derby presented by BJ’s Wholesale Club.
Overcoming power steering failure and a 36th starting spot, the Pinellas Park, Florida driver survived late-race chaos which took out several contenders to add his name to the list of greats who have lifted the Tom Dawson Trophy.
An exuberant Nasse could barely put into words the joy of winning the biggest race in Super Late Model competition.
“This is awesome. I don’t know what to say,” Nasse told Speed51. “To come from last, the power steering went out lap 80. I thought we were screwed. I can’t feel my arms right now. I thought we were done. I don’t know what happened. Thank you to all the fans, this is awesome.”
While the joy of Nasse’s “awesome” victory resonated, so too did the disappointment of several contenders whose Snowball Derby hopes were dashed on a green-white-checkered restart after the race had passed its 300-lap scheduled distance.
On a lap 318 restart, Ty Majeski spun from the lead after contact with both Nasse and third-place Casey Roderick, collecting numerous contenders and ended his hope of winning the Snowball Derby.
Majeski expressed frustration with race control after the incident, citing what he felt was inconsistency on patrolling the restarts.
“At first I was going too slow,” said Majeski. “Then they wanted me to pick up the pace. Then they wanted me to stay on the bottom. I can’t pick up the pace in three and stay on the bottom off four. No matter what I did, being the leader put me at a disadvantage.
“Casey just jacked me up there due to a slow restart. He’s obviously trying to win the race, too. He just jacked me up. I don’t know why we can’t do NASCAR-style. The leader fires in the box and whatever happens after that happens. It’s absolutely silly.”
Roderick felt Majeski had been inconsistent on his restarts and was ultimately collected on the last incident after the door-to-door contact between Majeski and Nasse.
“Majeski, the last few restarts, I wouldn’t say he was playing games but it was different speeds every time. I know race control was on him for being too slow. We picked it up the last couple. It just jumped sideways when he got on the gas.
“Looked like he drifted up into the 51 [of Nasse] and I was right there with him. I was looking to get to the inside of him if he drifted up even more. It looked like when he hit the 51, it turned him sideways. I had nowhere to go, really.”
Nasse needed patience to overcome all of the adversity, including surviving the chaotic late-race restart that took out many of his top rivals.
“I had a good spotter on the tower, a good crew in the pits. They had a good driver behind the seat. I did everything I could. The power steering went out about lap 80, that almost killed me.”
Meanwhile, Majeski and Roderick were left with the bitter pill of swallowing defeat in the Snowball Derby when both drivers were looking for their first win in the event.
“We had a really good car, a car plenty capable of winning, obviously,” said Majeski. “My guys did a great job. This was a tough one.”
“It was my best opportunity to win the Snowball Derby,” said Roderick. “I’m just at a loss for words at what happened tonight. I feel like we had the race-winning car. It’s two big races in a row we’ve given up. It sucks, but it’s not going to knock me down. I’m going to keep digging and keep fighting and we’re going to get this thing.”
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 photo