Entering the 2017 season, North Carolina’s Stephen Nasse wasn’t planning to race for a championship; he was just going to the race track hoping to score as many wins as he could. Fast forward the entire 12-race Southern Super Series presented by Sunoco season and Nasse enters the season finale at Five Flags Speedway (FL) locked into a tight championship battle with Chandler Smith.
“This is really the first time that we have ever tried to put together a full season and run for points,” Nasse told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “To be in this position going into Pensacola is more than we could ask for.”
Only 11 points separate Nasse and Smith entering championship night, which has the chance to create intense racing as the two battle for their first Southern Super Series championship. One mistake could be the thing that costs either driver the championship.
“There is always that little bit of pressure, but most of the pressure it to just win the race,” Nasse stated. “I have to win this weekend to complete my season and we’ve been fast at Pensacola lately so there’s no doubt in my mind we can pull it off.”
With the championship on the line, Nasse wouldn’t be content with just the title. He wants to go into the weekend leaving with the crown and a win, completing his 2017 Southern Super Series season.
“It would be big to win the championship, but I have to win a race. That will complete the season for us,” Nasse said. “We have finished second a handful of times but finishing second isn’t the same as visiting victory lane. We know consistency is key, but to me wins are everything and so that is what we are searching for this weekend.”
Any driver who ends up in the winner’s circle in a Southern Super Series race has to beat the best of the best in the Southeast. A winless Stephen Nasse knows he has what it takes, but is looking to prove it that much more by stamping his name on the list of winners in the record books.
“Our 2017 season has been very eventful and consistent but we are also winless. We are knocking on the door of that win and believe me when I tell you that it is bound to get answered really soon,” the Pinellas Park, Florida native said.
While Nasse would love to get the win this weekend, his eyes are also focused ahead to upcoming big races including the All American 400 at the Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville (TN) the following weekend.
On the other hand, Chandler Smith knows that it is all-or-nothing this weekend in order to secure the championship. It’s not out of his grasp and he knows he needs to capitalize on everything to make it happen.
“In order for us to win the championship we are going to have to keep our head on straight during the race,” Smith said. “We are going to have to run our own race and I believe if we could do that, the championship may fall in our hands. But regardless, we have to finish in front of that 51 (Nasse) in qualifying and in the race. “
2017 was Smith’s first full season behind the wheel of a Super Late Model, so to be in contention for the championship was more than he had in mind. Although he is also winless, he knows that this is a season he can build on going into next year regardless of the results.
“This season has been hands down a great season,” said the 15-year-old racer. “We have been strong everywhere we have been so far, the driver is still learning and still has a lot to learn but we have had a great season.”
Friday night all the cards will be on the table as the Nasse and Smith battle it out for their first Southern Super Series championship and each driver’s first win of the 2017 season.
“It would mean a lot for me and my team especially. They spend day in and day out working on our race cars trying to find that little speed that we need to park it in victory lane,” Smith said. “There has been a lot of sweat and tears that has been put into this season, so it would mean a lot to win this championship.”
The season finale for the Southern Super Series at Five Flags Speedway is this Saturday, September 23. Fans who are not able to make the trip down to Pensacola, Florida can watch the SSS championship come down to the wire by watching the race via Speed51.com’s pay-per-view video stream of the “Night of Champions” at Five Flags.
Story by: Hannah Newhouse – Southeast Correspondent – Twitter: @HannahNewhouse
Photo by: Speed51.com