Stephen Nasse is never one to mince words. That is especially true when discussing the 2019 Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway.
Despite starting 36th and losing power steering in the 52nd edition of the biggest Super Late Model race of the year, Nasse raced his way to the checkered flag. However, Nasse’s car failed post-race technical inspection due to a titanium violation in the brake system of the car.
That disqualification still leaves a sour taste for Nasse as he heads back to the Snowball Derby one year later.
“I’m not going to lie, I’m a sore loser,” Nasse told Speed51. “It’s something that I feel like was taken away from me. Having to see the trophy, having it taunted around has been frustrating for me. I feel like everybody knows who won the race last year.”
With that stinging sensation still fresh on his mind one year later, Nasse enters this year’s Snowball Derby wanting nothing more than to take the checkered flag once more, and this time leave Five Flags Speedway with the Tom Dawson Trophy.
“To see it all the time, it makes it tough. I’m going back this year and going to bring the trophy where it belongs. Keep the trophy in Florida and take it to St. Pete with me.”
Nasse enters this season’s Snowball Derby as the 2020 Southern Super Series champion, guaranteeing him a starting spot in Sunday’s 300-lap feature. The strong year gives Nasse confidence heading to Five Flags Speedway.
“I feel pretty confident. I try not to be overly confident. I do better when I go with the mindset that things won’t go my way, and they end up working out. I feel like our program has been really good.
Despite a third-place finish in the All American 400, Nasse was not pleased with his performance at the signature event at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. He and his Jett Motorsports team quickly went to work to rectify issues discovered at that event ahead of the Snowball Derby.
“We struggled at Nashville, I won’t lie there, but all year we’ve been really strong. I think we found the problem at Nashville, so I believe going into the Derby we’ll be really good.”
Nasse finished second in the Blizzard Series to Bubba Pollard this year, scoring a pair of wins during the Super Late Model track championship at Five Flags Speedway. While there is some debate as to how much Blizzard Series success translates to Derby week, Nasse believes a lot of his notebook from the season will be valuable.
“The Derby, I feel like a lot of people overthink things. I think it compares a lot to [the Blizzard Series]. I know the weather gets colder, and don’t get me wrong, Pensacola is one of those tracks that changes quite a bit. But also, we deal with that a weekly basis when we’re running there, so it’s nothing new.
“I think we have a bit of a headstart on those guys coming from out of town. I think every team gets thrown for curveballs here and there, and some weekends you can’t find it. For the most part, I feel like we’ll be able to find the speed we’ve had all year.”
Nasse has put on some of the most dominant displays in Super Late Model racing in recent memory, including the 2019 Winchester 400 when he lead 392 of the race’s 400 laps. However, the level of competition at the Derby each year makes such a display unlikely in Nasse’s eyes.
“You need a lot of luck for that to happen. Usually, I don’t have a lot of luck. To go there with the caliber of the field, it’s going to be tough to go there and just outclass everyone. I think it will come down to a luck deal at the end.
When it comes to luck, Nasse believes he is one of the less fortunate. However, he also believes Five Flags Speedway owes him one after last year.
“I feel like Five Flags owes me one, and I think I have a good one coming my way. I feel like that win got taken away from us wrongly. I just want to make things right this year.”
Race fans unable to attend the 53rd Annual Snowball Derby can watch live on Speed51.TV by clicking here.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo