Stephen Nasse rallied from an early issue to pick up a clutch win in the Short Track U.S. Nationals at Bristol Motor Speedway (TN), passing Casey Roderick for the lead on lap 96 to claim the famed sword.
Nasse started on the pole and led the first 30 laps of the 100-lap Super Late Model race, tri-sanctioned by the ARCA/CRA Super Series, CARS Tour and Southern Super Series. However, a trip to pit road under caution for a loose wheel nearly derailed the Florida driver’s shot at victory.
“I was definitely upset sitting on pit road," Nasse said. "Once I got back out on the track, I was able to see the forward drive I had, I was killing everybody. It gave me a lot of peace of mind. Time wasn’t my concern, just keeping my nose clean.”
Nasse charged through the field to take an emotional victory, taking the lead for good with four laps to go. When Roderick was held up by a lapped car, Nasse capitalized for the race-winning pass.
“It was tough. I caught him with about six to go and got within a car length," Nasse said. "I thought I was going to be able to make the move kind of quick. I slipped up, I got a little high and couldn’t get back on the bottom.
"Once I regrouped from that and picked up the couple of car lengths I lost, it was smooth sailing," he added. "He was a little bit free from the center off, and I had tons of drive.”
Roderick could barely describe his disappointment, coming so close to a Bristol win and coming home second.
“I’m speechless," Roderick said. "I don’t know what to say. I was getting tight. I was just staying in the gas until it broke loose trying to keep from breaking my momentum. If you’re out of the gas here, you’re losing two or three tenths.
“I was fighting it, trying to hold him off, but we caught that lapped traffic and it killed my momentum and he got me," he added. "I don’t want to blame it on the lapped cars, but I feel like if I had a clean track in front of me, we would have gotten it.”
There was contact in the pass for the win between two drivers who have had their run-ins, most recently at CRA SpeedFest at Crisp Motorsports Park (GA). However, both chalked it up to hard, respectful racing.
“Casey and I have had our run-ins in the past, but I have nothing but respect for him," Nasse said. "He’s a true racer, works on his own stuff. Nothing but respect for him. I think we touched a little bit, but I think he knows I had a pretty fast car and he would have had a hard time holding me off.”
“That’s just good, hard racing," Roderick said. "If he had taken me out, it would have been different. I was getting underneath the lapped car and it killed my momentum. I don’t know if the momentum change is why he got into my left-rear. I’ll remember it, I’ll tell you that.
“I have the same respect for him," he added. "We’re two good short track racers going at it. My momentum got broke. Obviously, he had the fastest car all night. He was smart coming through the field, kept his car in one piece and won the race.”
Steve Wallace completed the podium, having a strong run early and leading after Nasse's misfortune but fading down the stretch.
“We had a pretty good car at the start of the race," Wallace said. "It ran really good, and then the stagger started to shorten up. We had a good car during the race, and we got up there to the lead. We thought for sure we were going to win and then it started getting tight on me. It is what it is, brand-new car, we brought it home in one piece.”
Race fans who missed Saturday's Short Track U.S. Nationals at Bristol Motor Speedway can watch an on-demand replay of the live pay-per-view broadcast by clicking here or view live updates from Speed51's Trackside Now by clicking here.
Unofficial Results - Short Track U.S. Nationals Super Late Model 100
|16||20D||Jack Dossey III|
|31||35||Greg Van Alst|
-Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor - Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com photo