Amid chaos and carnage, Stephen Nasse emerged as the last man standing, victorious in the Championship Auto Racing Series (CARS) Super Late Model Tour 2017 season finale at South Boston Speedway (VA).
Nasse came out of a multi-car fracas for the lead on the final lap to take the checkered flag in a race that saw several incidents, a red flag for a near-flip and a new series champion who didn’t finish the race.
“The emotions are running wild right now,” Nasse told Speed51.com Powered by JEGS in victory lane. “It was a hectic race. I thought I had lost it a couple of times on some driver errors. We ended up getting back up front and had some dicey racing. We were able to prevail from it, and get to victory lane.”
“All day, we struggled,” Craig said. “We didn’t have a good car. We raced hard, fell back, our car was good enough for sixth or seventh.
“Some people wrecked. Some people broke. I ended up in the top four with [Jake] Crum and Nasse, which had been going at it the whole race.
“I’m not sure what happened, but on the final restart I ended up in the lead with Crum and Nasse behind me. Somebody got into me going into three. I moved [Crum] and Nasse went by both of us.”
Zane Smith finished third in the race, with a front row seat of the chaotic finish.
“It was crazy,” Smith said. “Me and Nasse raced each other clean all night. When it was between me and him, he was a little bit better than me, but on a restart it would have been close.
“That’s how everyone raced all night tonight,” Smith said. “Whoever was the most aggressive [prevailed]. Everywhere we go, usually Stephen Nasse is the most aggressive. I guess it worked out for him tonight.”
The battle for the win was not the only drama on the evening. The CARS Super Late Model Tour was decided on lap 84. Brandon Setzer hoped to knock Cole Rouse off the top of the standings, but crashed battling for the lead with Christian Eckes.
“I was just going for it,” Setzer said. “I had the best car, and I was running down [Christian] Eckes there. I just got in the loose stuff and spun around.
“I’m just mad at myself. They gave me a car to win the race and the driver didn’t get it done.”
Thus, Cole Rouse clinched the Super Late Model championship. He also had an eventful evening, as his car nearly flipped in an incident with Eckes on lap 101.
Eckes and Rouse made door-to-door contact on the frontstretch, forcing Rouse into the wall. His car climbed the wall, riding on its driver-side door for the remainder of the straightaway into turn one.
“He’s lucky he didn’t get anyone hurt,” Rouse said about Eckes. “I had gas pouring all over the inside of my car. It’s hard to get out of these cars, it’s tight in there. I was fortunate to get out. I’m not hurt or anything, it didn’t really hurt.”
Rouse left South Boston with the CARS Super Late Model Tour championship, but not without the joy of a strong run, which dampened the mood.
“It would have felt better if we had finished, and not wrecked,” Rouse said. “I don’t know. We’ll take home the championship. We probably won’t celebrate tonight. It feels cool to win it, for sure.”
Eckes admitted fault for the incident, as he said he was pushing too hard after falling back in the field.
“We got behind a little bit,” Eckes said. “We got into the loose stuff. It’s my fault, I was in too much of a hurry.”
Nasse won the race starting in a house car for fellow Florida native Robert Hamke. Nasse hopes to put together a longer-term relationship with Hamke after tonight’s victory.
“I will have to talk to Hamke back at the shop,” Nasse said. “They gave me the opportunity to run this car. His boy, Robbie, crew chiefed it for me. Of course I have Buggy Fletcher and a couple of guys from my time. There’s no telling where we’ll be in the next race.”
Race fans can find on-demand coverage of the wild CARS Tour Super Late Model finale by visiting Speed51.com's Trackside Now.
-By Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
UNOFFICIAL SLM RESULTS:
1 74 Stephen Nasse
2 54 Matt Craig
3 77 Zane Smith
4 37 Mike Speeney
5 99l Raphael Lessard
6 01 Jake Crum
7 00 Tate Fogleman
8 14f Jared Fryar
9 49 Jeff Batten
10 15 Christian Eckes
11 6 Brandon Setzer
12 17 Mike Speeney
13 34 Nolan Pope