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Snowball Derby

Stephen Nasse daydreaming about Snowball Derby triumph

Short Track Racing’s most polarizing figure enters Derby week with the most momentum

Matt Weaver | STS

Just don’t call it the Stephen Nasse Rule.

The biggest change for Super Late Model teams during the 2019 Snowball Derby is the dissolution of live pit stops, an element of the racing product replaced by controlled cautions next Sunday.

It would be easy to point at Nasse getting into a physical altercation with his own pit crew last year, following a series of loose lug nuts as the reason, but the reality is that this format change was a long-time coming.

“I don’t look at it that way,” Nasse said with a laugh when Short Track Scene asked him about calling it the Nasse Rule. “But it’s something the smaller teams needed for a long time. I’ve seen a lot of interviews where drivers said they’re coming now or that they stopped coming because of live pit stops. We’re going to see a more competitive race now.

“That’s five to seven grand teams don’t have to spend anymore and it’s going to be a better show too.”

READ MORE: Complete Snowball Derby coverage

Nasse hopes that it’s a show that ends with him in Victory Lane instead of the spotlight for more nefarious reasons, too.

The 2016 Snowball Derby was noted for an altercation between Nasse and a pre-Cup Series William Byron that preceded a lengthy Twitter rant about NASCAR’s pay to play model.

And then there was the fight with his own hired pit crew last December, too.

“I want cameras to be on me in Victory Lane next week,” Nasse said.

RELATED: Inside the mind of Super Late Model’s most polarizing star

To that end, Nasse tested last weekend during the Snowball Derby Preview open test and again on Sunday night when he turned laps in Jett Motorsports teammate Jett Noland’s car. He feels like his primary car, repaired from an altercation racing for the lead in last month’s All-American 400, is potentially his best chance yet to win the Snowball Derby.

After all, this is the same car that won the U.S. Short Track Nationals at Bristol Motor Speedway and led all but nine laps in October’s Winchester 400.

It’s not a clean sweep of the majors, but Nasse is poised to take two of three, and it Meatloaf vernacular, that’s not bad.

“I do feel confident, but I felt confident at this time last year, too,” Nasse said. “We were coming off the big win at Mobile and I feel the same way this year. I don’t want to get to overconfident. I want to stay humble, but I think we’re going to be fast.

“We tested when Kyle (Busch) was here with the KBM guys and I was right there with him and (veteran teammate (Choquette,) Jeff. I know Jeff is going to be good and we compare well there.”

This will be Nasse’s ninth Derby attempt, with a best finish of sixth in 2014. Outside of that, it hasn’t gone particularly well with five DNFs.

And because of that, Nasse isn’t going to get too far ahead of himself, even if he likes to daydream about the possibility of being the one to kiss the Tom Dawson Trophy next Sunday evening.

“Obviously, it would be a big deal,” Nasse said. “There are some long days at work where your mind starts to wander and you daydream about the things you care about the most and winning the Snowball Derby is up there for me. That’s the biggest race of the year.

“There’s a reason teams travel from Canada and California. They daydream about it too. This is the biggest race of the year and we all want to be in Victory Lane.”

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Matt Weaver is the owner and founder of Short Track Scene. Weaver grew up in the sport, having raced himself before becoming a reporter in college at the University of South Alabama. He is also the associate motorsports editor of Autoweek Magazine and its website, which allows him to cover the highest levels of the sport.

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