The 48th Annual Winchester 400 won’t be the first time Stephen Nasse has taken aim at a win in the crown jewel event at the “World’s Fastest Half Mile”. In fact, it’ll be his ninth.
While the ninth time isn’t known to be the charm, there’s a few victories in Nasse’s recent past that promise anything but a rerun this weekend at Winchester Speedway (IN).
Just over a month ago, Nasse snagged a pair of first-place finishes in the World Stock Festival at Winchester in both his Pro and Super Late Model, a Sunday sweep that has the 24-year-old feeling more prepared than years past.
Add in Nasse’s performance at Bristol back in May where he qualified on the pole, setting a new track record before going on to win the Super Late Model feature, and you’ve got a recipe for high-banked success.
“We’ve found something that’s really working for us right now and I feel like that gives me a bit of an edge,” Nasse told Speed51. “I feel like our big-track program, the fast stuff, is just ahead of everybody else.”
Speed. It’s the hallmark of our sport and tracks like Bristol have plenty of it. But unlike the smooth concrete of the “Last Great Colosseum” that Nasse conquered earlier in the season, Winchester demands more from drivers than head-turning lap times.
At Winchester, the smoothest surface is the outer concrete wall that’s infamous for crumpling cars at 37 degrees. Drivers need more than a gas pedal to navigate Winchester’s gruff personality for 400 laps with hair-raising celerity— they need grit.
That challenge is exactly what keeps Nasse coming back to the small town of Winchester, Indiana year after year, despite only having completed the 400-lap race once in his career.
“You go to a place like Winchester and there’s just more bumps, there’s more character to the track,” Nasse said. “There’s more two-lane racing. If somebody’s holding me up on the bottom, I can jump to their outside and make a move on them. It being really racy and fast at the same time, that’s what makes Winchester my favorite.”
Jeff Choquette, Nasse’s teammate, was able to not only finish all 400 laps on his second-ever start but win the coveted Winchester rifle back in 2018. The bittersweet memory adds a new layer of pressure this go-round for Nasse to keep the momentum going for Jett Motorsports.
“Last year with Choquette winning and us being a team, of course I wanted to be in victory lane but it was good for the guys,” Nasse recalled. “I think it’d be really sweet to not only pull off a repeat from this last time I was at Winchester, but pull off a repeat for them in the 400.”
Race fans who can’t make it out to Winchester Speedway (IN) to watch Stephen Nasse compete in-person can watch the Winchester 400 live on Speed51.com.
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-Story by: Melissa Strahley, Gulf Coast Editor
-Photo Credit: Speed51photos.com