They’re all big wins, says Stephen Nasse, but Sunday afternoon at Five Flags Speedway has to rank near the top — even if he didn’t immediately say so.
It’s not a marquee win like his dominant Winchester 400 triumph last season, nor a win at a prestigious facility like Bristol Motor Speedway, but the Deep South Crane 150 checked a lot of personal boxes.
Nasse opened 2020 with a confrontation with Bubba Pollard near the end of Speedfest at Watermelon Capital Speedway, and controversially battled for the win in the Baby Rattler 100, but really raced door-to-door with him throughout the summer for a variety of reasons.
There’s also the matter of how 2019 ended, Nasse taking the checkered flag in the Snowball Derby, only to be disqualified in technical inspection by Ricky Brooks for unapproved titanium brake caps.
Nasse outdueled Pollard on a series of late restarts and took two of the four races in Pensacola this summer with just the Derby remaining in the Florida Gulf Coast before the end of the year.
This one could be viewed as a bigger deal, again, even if Nasse didn’t cite it as such.
“Not really, we go to every race intending to win,” Nasse said after the race, no matter who is in the race.”
Pollard and Nasse haven’t always seen eye-to-eye over the years, stemming from an incident between them at Cordele nearly a decade ago, with a relationship that both would agree is barely cordial when there isn’t an active rivalry between the two.
So, it was a pleasant surprise to both contenders that they raced hard but relatively clean in the final 50 laps on Sunday at Five Flags.
There was contact between them, but nothing more than is expected on a restart late at the Florida half-mile.
“It was a good race,” Pollard said. “It was fun. That’s how you’re supposed to race right there. You don’t have to beat and bang to make it happen. You rub on each other and that’s going to happen; you don’t take each other out. Well, not anymore maybe.”
Nasse echoed that sentiment.
“It surprised me how clean we were able to race today, together,” Nasse said. “That was fun. It was good to come out on top. We had a lot of hard luck this year. Felt like, he got the better of us in a couple of Pro Late Model races, that’s for sure.
“To get him in a big Super Late Model race, that felt good for sure.”
Nasse came all the way back from the 16th starting position to win, not taking the lead from Pollard until Lap 77. Prior to that, Pollard had traded the lead with Kaden Honeycutt, driving Donnie Wilson’s No. 2 entry.
Once Nasse took the lead, he and Pollard then traded the lead several times, clean racing throughout with scheduled competition cautions slated for Laps 50 and 100.
Pollard gave up the lead for good on the restart with 23 laps to go, conceding to Nasse, and fading to fifth.
Typically an advantage for his style and car, Pollard said choosing to restart on the outside during a day race, rescheduled from Saturday night proved to be his undoing.
“I made a bad decision and picked the outside there,” Pollard said. “At night when we race during the summer it’s fine, but today it just didn’t have any grip. I made a mistake and that was the difference. I spun the right rear tire on the restart there and after that I was done. Once you spin it here, you never get it back really. Today it cost us. We take it and learn from it.”
Nasse actually was prepared to get beat by Pollard, only because he didn’t think he had the race winning car before the Lap 100 restart — but also told crew chief Chris Cater that they had a long way to go.
“The track is way different in the daytime,” Nasse said. “From lap 1, my car wasn’t 100 percent, but we were better than those around us. We weren’t really planted into the race track, but it doesn’t take away from my guys, Rowdy Manufacturing and Strange Oval. Deep South Crane.”
Next up for Nasse is two big ones that got away last year: The All-American 400 and Snowball Derby.
“Without a doubt,” Nasse said. “Those are ones we have targeted. We’re building towards it, and have a lot of momentum at Nashville and Pensacola right now.
Jake Garcia picked off Pollard in the closing laps, as did Honeycutt and Kyle McCallum. Pollard’s fifth-place run completed the Five Flags Speedway track championship and earns him a guaranteed berth into the Snowball Derby. It’s his third consecutive Blizzard Series championship and fourth overall.
Ross Kenseth finished fifth in his first race back of any kind in five years.
Jeremy Pate unofficially leads Nasse by one point entering next weekend’s All-American — the championship race for the Southern Super Series.
- Stephen Nasse
- Jake Garcia
- Kaden Honeycutt
- Kyle McCallum
- Bubba Pollard
- Jeremy Pate
- Ross Kenseth
- Connor Okrzesik
- Logan Boyett
- Chris Davidson
- Boris Jurkovic
- Daniel Dye
- Perry Patino
- Sammy Smith
- Eric White
- Hudson Halder
- Bob Lyon
- Friday Hassler, Jr.
- Colton Nelson
- Kyle Plott
- Josh Hamner
- Kyle Bryant
- Kyle Plott
- Hunter Robbins