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Snowball Derby

The reason Stephen Nasse was disqualified from his Snowball Derby win

Matt Weaver | STS

For the third time in 10 years, a victory in the Snowball Derby was decided in post-race technical inspection.

Travis Braden inherited the victory following the disqualification of flagged winner Stephen Nasse.

Nasse’s Jett Motorsports No. 51 was stripped of his victory due to a titanium violation in the brake system. The Snowball Derby rule book specifically states:

  1. Brakes
    1. Vehicles must be equipped with four-wheel hydraulic brakes
    2. No carbon fiber rotors. Only steel rotors are allowed (no titanium).
    3 Brake fluid circulators permitted. Liquid or gas cooling not permitted.

The 5 Flags Speedway ‘additional’ Super Late Model rules section also states the following:

10. Titanium, inconel or exotic metal are not allowed for use in any way on the race car

Meanwhile, Braden passed his inspection and was declared the winner shortly afterwards.

Rumors had begun spreading about 30 minutes before the official word was given that the No. 51 had failed inspection. At that point, chief technical inspector Ricky Brooks had called track general manager Tim Bryant down to the inspection room to discuss the matter.

Then, it was made official, with the Jett Motorsports team frustratingly putting their car back together and pushing it back towards the infield. Nasse exited the tech room, made a sharp left turn away from the inspection area and towards his hauler.

Brooks said after declaring Braden the victor that the Jett Motorsport team’s infraction was clearly a violation of the rule book while also detailing how it was a competitive advantage.

“It had titanium piston caps all the way around the whole entire car,” Brooks said. “It’s blatant in the rule book — no titanium allowed. They were fastened to an aluminium piston and an aluminium caliper.  And what that does, is it keeps the heat from sinking into the caliper and the piston. They were drilled to keep from holding the heat going into an aluminum piston and aluminum caliper.

Brooks said there is an advantage but couldn’t say if it made a difference on Monday night.

“There is an advantage,” he said. “I don’t know if it helped him win. But it’s like any other disqualification we’ve done. It’s in in the rule book in black and white. If we don’t go by that, none of this matters.”

And why wasn’t the piston caps checked throughout the week, during any of the previous countless inspection attempts?

“That’s something inside the car that we can’t check during the week,” Brooks said. “It’s just like an illegal motor.”

In a social media post, Nasse suggested the Monday night discovery was much more nefarious.

Nasse recently defected from PFC Brakes to Brembo Brakes. The 24-year-old suggested that his disqualification stems from a tip provided by PFC representative Chris Dilbeck:

 “First of all, let me start by saying that I have the best guys in the business behind me. My Jett Motorsports guys are amazing and we had two badass cars tonight. I drove from 36th to first with no power steering. We also have the best people supporting us and one of those are Brembo Brakes, whom I highly recommend for all your brake needs.

“We left PFC Brakes because they weren’t willing to help us and were playing favorites. The first thing tech asked us to do is remove the brakes because they had a ‘tip’ from their major supporter at PFC Brakes, Chris Dilbeck. In our brake system there was a small titanium cap which does not enhance performance at all.”

In a statement released on Sunday night, Dilbeck didn’t deny the allegation but suggested that he would prefer to see races won on the track. AP Racing provides brakes for Braden.

“I don’t want to see any race decided in tech,” Dilbeck said. “It was unfortunate that PFC didn’t win the race on the race track. I feel like PFC probably had the best car of the day, along with the vast majority of the field. Myself, representing PFC at the Snowball Derby, I try to help every PFC customer to the best of my ability to go win the race.

“It’s very unfortunate that the race was decided in tech. At the same time, the car that won the race was not a PFC customer, either. Stephen Nasse is a great race car driver, and we were glad to have him on PFC the time that we did. I enjoy watching him race just like any other race fan.”

UPDATE: A Tuesday morning statement from PFC Brakes denied any involvement whatsoever: “PFC Brakes in no way shape or form was involved iwith the discovery during the technical inspection and has nothing to gain from the unfortunate disqualification.”

Nasse also pointed out in his statement that the winning car from the 2018 Snowball Derby featured an engine that needed to be regulated via a Balance of Performance.

That was a reference to the Hamner engine, which spent much of spring 2019 under scrutiny from the industry for a perceived power advantage following a December dyno test.

“Last year, the winning car was cleared with an illegal motor, which was an advantage,” Nasse said. “This sport is nothing but playing favorites. I’ve been the classy guy and I’ve been the nasty guy.

“But at the end of the day, I’m just a guy trying to be the best I can and to win the biggest race of my life and have it taken away like this just sucks. I appreciate all the support.”

Chase Elliott was disqualified after the 2013 Snowball Derby for having tungsten as his weight instead of lead, leading to Erik Jones’ second-consecutive victory. Christopher Bell was tossed in 2015 for a weight violation.

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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.

19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Rand

    December 10, 2019 at 7:31 am

    Titanium is a very expensive metal. If haven’t it there provides absolutely no performance advantage, than why would brake supplier Brembo go to the expense of using it ?

  2. Charlie Novak

    December 10, 2019 at 8:02 am

    So the rule says no titanium only in reference to the rotors. It is listed only in rule #2 involving rotors. Nowhere in the rules listed in this story does it say no titanium brake parts allowed. If it is only listed in the rule describing rotors how can they disqualify him for piston caps? That dq sounds like bs to me.

  3. Richard E Lawrence

    December 10, 2019 at 9:35 am

    If it isn’t identified upon the inspection during the week it shouldn’t be allowed to spoil a great finish. I would suggest a separate group of experienced individuals that serve as a board for violations. Did it or does it effect performance of the car? I’m personally fed up with spending literally hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of dollars to come over there and watch the race and then get home and find out the discount of bullshit went on.

  4. Andrew King

    December 10, 2019 at 9:39 am

    I read that rule as required steel rotors, there is no inference to any other part of the brake system in my mind. I have now gone from ambivalent about brake system suppliers to being anti-PFC.

  5. Henry Miles

    December 10, 2019 at 9:49 am

    Re read this rule. No carbon fiber roatars. Only steel roatars are allowed (no titanium). His rotars were not titanium.I see nowhere in the rule that says you can’t run titanium in the caliper or mounting equipment. VERY VAGUE. Give him his win back!

  6. KEVIN POWELL

    December 10, 2019 at 11:44 am

    The rule book excerpt that was used in this article says nothing about brake calipers. Its states no carbon fiber and steel rotors, no titanium!! Is there a section specific to calipers? If not, i’d still be there arguing!! Nasse drove his ass of with no power steering. I dont follow this series or even know a majority of names in the race but it was definitly taken from Nasse and his team!

  7. Scott

    December 10, 2019 at 3:10 pm

    Re-read the article. it says: 5 Flags additional rule, “No titanium allowed anywhere on the car”. Very clear to me. If it wasn’t an advantage, why go to the time and expense to use it on your brake calipers? I love reading about the DQ’s. It exposes the amount of cheating that goes on and the huge time and expense people go to to cheat and gain small advantages that all add up. They then always say it wasn’t an advantage when they get caught.

  8. Normand Cote

    December 10, 2019 at 3:10 pm

    in an age where it seems “anyone” can violate the law of the land if their political supporters go along with it, we have this rather Mickey Mouse reason for DQing a racer from the biggest win of his racing career….Well OK race fans…You can’t have it both ways politically and this saga smells like the of “politics in racing” to me….Setting one brake company against the other…And it even has the “whistleblower” element attached to it all…I’m not saying either entity is right….or that Brooks is wrong either… i’m just saying that this sort of disqualification fits the polarizing times that we live in…And it’s just too bad for all those concerned….

  9. Rob

    December 10, 2019 at 4:20 pm

    Some of you can’t seem to read well not understand racing and how much minor things on the car greatly affect performance. If something gives you 1/1000 of a second per lap advantage that can win you a race. Seriously. The words “no titanium allowed anywhere on the car” are pretty straight forward so if you use titanium you deserve to be disqualified, period.

  10. Johnny c

    December 10, 2019 at 4:27 pm

    the author is clearly quite mad at Chris Dilbeck. The fact of the matter is Chris is an employee, for the author to basically skip over the company and personally attack Chris is quite unprofessional. Anyone that has been around brakes for longer than a week knows that the zr94 caliper can come from the factory with a piston “nose”. hell my zr34 calipers have titanium noses. I can see a mistake being made as PFC is very tight-lipped about what materials they use. (they do this to stop people from copying them.) PFC could have not known or forgotten ti was illegal, and the team forgot to ask. This whole thing could be a complete misunderstanding. 

  11. Matt Weaver

    December 10, 2019 at 4:43 pm

    The author is quite friendly with Chris Dilbeck and made a point not to editorialize anything in the story.

    I reported Nasse’s accusation because that’s what reporters do. And in the interest of fairness, I reported both Chris’ and PFC’s statements. I really don’t understand how you could reach the conclusion that I have a personal grudge with Chris. You could make that argument about Stephen, but all I did was quote the parties involved. So please don’t mis-characterize what I reported.

  12. Andrew King

    December 10, 2019 at 5:17 pm

    How many cars had titanium jackshafts? Axles? Hub nuts? Shift knobs?
    How many had titanium valve springs retainers.
    If you attempted to qualify for the race and didn’t make it, would be OK with the fact that cars with illegal parts were allowed to compete and take your spot. Harrison?
    Maybe the track should provide a comprehensive list of the approved parts for use. Then vendors could lobby the track to get on the list.

  13. John whaley

    December 10, 2019 at 6:44 pm

    At the end of the day you can make all the excuses you want too. Maybe you young drivers might want to read the rule book as I did back in my early days going to the biggest race of my life. Yes it sucks but rules are rules and I for one am glad to see rules enforced rather than turning a blind eye.

  14. sandra nichols

    December 10, 2019 at 7:25 pm

    Yes the rule is there, but Stephen Nasse is truly a great race car driver.I drove 25 hrs. from Canada to watch him race as he is very exciting to watch.I feel really bad for him
    as this would have been his greatest win.Did the Brake issue make that much of a difference
    in him winning?

  15. Boaty

    December 10, 2019 at 7:34 pm

    Rule 10 in the motor rule says it’s ok to run titanium retainers. The rule on the brakes was for brake Rotors.
    Shame this race is more about THE ROOM OF DOOM Than you wins a race. We ran one race where he was King of Tech and he lets us know that’s why we never went back. Bad thing was we where a supporting to the main event. We got sticker from the king and race.

  16. Terry Ward

    December 10, 2019 at 8:33 pm

    I wonder if ALL the cars that competed, and finished the race, were in fact, ALL their brakes checked also??

  17. Jerry patrick

    December 10, 2019 at 11:45 pm

    Well we ran the pure stock rack and won it the the king said we had illegal pistons and it was last race there in regular season everything was fine. Mobile tore whole engine down and found it legit mr brooks even sealed motor Then he talks about the rules!!! He makes them as he goes!!!

  18. C. Ham

    December 11, 2019 at 12:10 am

    They’ve successfully transformed a once great race into a complete joke. It’s simply professional wrestling with wheels including the manufactured plot twists afterwards. When the stands inevitably become empty they’ll blame everything and everyone but themselves.

  19. LCT

    December 11, 2019 at 1:16 am

    Nit-picky rules like this are helping to kill racing. I used to race Speedway bikes and we had basically just 6 rules: 1)rider must wear helmet (open-face, MX, full-face, whatever); 2)Rider must wear steel shoe; 3)Engine must be 500cc, and run on methanol; 4)a kill switch must be tethered between the throttle and the rider’s right wrist; 5)tires must be designed for Speedway racing (no “Class C” flat-track tires) (NOTE: this is really not a “spec. tire” rule, as if you could find some old Kendra or Pirelli Speedway-designated rubber, you could run it); 6)rear wheel must be fitted with a disc (to protect the other’s riders left foot). And that’s about it. Cars should the same, specifying only engine size and location, other than that….knock…yourself…out.

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