Stephen Nasse had a decision to make come September 26, either defend his title at the Short Track U.S. Nationals at Bristol Motor Speedway or make his Late Model Stock debut in the Valleystar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway. After Martinsville canceled the biggest Late Model Stock race in the country, the decision was ultimately made for him.
Nasse put on one of the most impressive performances of the short track racing season last year at “The Last Great Colosseum.” After a loose wheel sent him to the tail early in the 100-lap event, he worked his way back through the 30-plus car field and passed Casey Roderick in the final laps to score what was his biggest win to date.
Nearly 16 months after the dramatic win, he looks to make it two in a row at Bristol – this time in convincing fashion.
“I’m definitely excited, I’m hoping that the car is comparable to last year. Last year, nobody could touch the car, it was on rails that night. We can’t go back with exactly the same setup, but we’ve been working hard,” Nasse told Speed51. “I feel like our Super program’s on top of its game right now so I’m looking forward to going back and hopefully not having the same issue with the loose wheel and be able to lead the whole race.”
Last year’s Bristol triumph opened the proverbial floodgates for Nasse. The Florida driver has scored nine wins since that night back in June 2019, which included the Winchester 400 in which he led 392 laps. To compare, he only had seven wins dating back to 2016 before that night.
He now enters the 4th Annual Short Track U.S. Nationals as one of the hottest drivers in all of Super Late Model racing.
“We were definitely making progress through the season, finishing closer to the front and getting more top-tens and top-fives. Once you start stacking those up the win is bound to come. We just kept on doing what we were doing, working on the car and getting our setup right. And then we hit on something at Bristol.
“Luckily after Bristol, Winchester follows pretty shortly after. We went there on Labor Day and won that, then we went back to the 400 and won again. It fits my style with the big banking and stuff like that. Then at Pensacola, we’ve always been strong at the Derby and at Nashville. I just have a lot of races after Bristol that I have good shots in, I feel like that’s the biggest thing.”
With the Valleystar Credit Union 300 now off the table, Nasse says there are currently no Late Model Stock starts planned for the near future. However, he has remained in talks with Jamie Yelton and FatHead Racing for other events later on down the road.
“We don’t have anything in the works at all. I’ve been friends with Jamie Yelton for a long time and we’ve been talking about doing that deal for many years prior and when we finally get it together, it sucks that it fell through like it did. We still stay in contact, they built a car just for me to run so hopefully we can figure out some races that make sense.
“When the CARS Tour has doubleheaders with the Late Model Stocks and the Supers, we can work one of them out and get a couple races under my belt. I’d like to next year, try running Martinsville or if the Orange County $30,000 to win race comes back up, try to run that,” he added. “They really put on good racing in Late Model Stocks and I’d like to become a part of that.”
For now, his eye remains on Bristol Motor Speedway and the Short Track U.S. Nationals. As he continues to build his trophy collection, he also looks to keep his niece and nephews happy back home with a second sword.
“It would make for less trouble in the house for the kids trying to fight over who gets to keep it in their room or whatever. If I had two of them, it would be easier to split them up. Eventually I would like to get my trophies away from my niece and nephews and be able to put them in my house, get a room going with all my trophies and whatnot and be a spot to hang out.”
Fans unable to make it to Thunder Valley will be able to watch the Pinty's U.S. Short Track Nationals at Bristol Motor Speedway on the all-new Speed51.tv. Click here to purchase your PPV ticket today.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51 Photo