There was the briefest of windows for Stephen Nasse to unseat Ty Majeski on Sunday in the Rattler 250 at South Alabama Speedway and that door immediately closed shut.
Nasse started from the pole but had to work his way from the rear of the field due a stripped fuel pump belt but found himself running second on a restart with 10 laps to go. Majeski, seeking a record setting fourth victory in the event, had dominated to that point without Nasse in the mix.
Nasse was able to clear Sammy Smith in third and spent the next two laps trying to set-up the race winning pass. Nasse gave Majeski a slight tap on corner exit of Turn 4 with seven laps remaining. The race to decide the 45th Rattler 250 was on.
Behind the battle for the win, Sammy Smith suffered a severed oil line and brought out a caution and red flag.
When the race resumed, Majeski was able to keep Daniel Dye tucked directly behind him, which trapped Nasse on the outside. It took three laps for Nasse to fend off Dye for second and there wasn’t anytime left to close the gap.
With the victory, Majeski snapped the record he briefly shared with the legendary Ronnie Sanders after winning in 2020, and now stands alone as the only four-time winner in Rattler 250 history.
"That caution bailed me out. You had me."
Ty Majeski to Stephen Nasse pic.twitter.com/vNNfFWsnzb
— Matt Weaver (@MattWeaverAW) March 14, 2021
After his celebration, Majeski walked across the frontstretch podium and confided to Nasse that he was saved by the podium. Both champions knew the results would have flipped without the caution, but that’s racing.
“He had me right where he wanted,” Majeski said. “I was expecting the bumper, knew it was coming, and I wouldn’t have faulted him for it. I was super vulnerable. I don’t know if it was that set of tires or the very small adjustment, but regardless, he had us beat there, and that caution bailed us out.”
Nasse knew it immediately, dropping an expletive over his radio, and knowing that opportunity likely wouldn’t present itself again.
On the previous two restarts, Majeski had worked on the restarts with Smith to ensure Nasse couldn’t close down to the bottom from the outside front row. It worked the first time, didn’t work the second, and couldn’t have worked better when Dye was behind him.
Nasse believes he had the faster car at the end, but conceded the circumstances were just a byproduct of racing.
“There’s nothing I can do about it now, that’s racing,” Nasse said. “It often feels like we’re fighting to overcome the short end of the stick in these races. I keep telling my guys that if we can keep this up, we’re going to win a lot of races.
“Ty is pretty dominant everywhere he goes, he’s a great driver, but I really thought we had him beat today, but we didn’t beat him and that’s the end of the story.”
The box score will show that Majeski led all but 15 laps, and while it’s reflective of his recent dominance, it doesn’t tell the whole story.
Nasse scored the pole on Saturday during time trails but conceded the lead to Majeski on Lap 14. He just wasn’t willing to match the pace that early. His team uncovered the stripped belt during the red flag on Lap 56 but had enough time to replace it without losing a lap but had to start at the rear.
He worked his way back to third in time for the final 100 laps, but that allowed Majeski to continuously build up three and four second leads for much of the race.
Maybe it’s a different story without the stripped belt, but Nasse has already moved on.
“That was a brand-new belt and there was nothing my guys could have done about it,” Nasse said. “So, it’s tough to swallow. My crew chief is torn up about it. I have great cars every race we go to. Chris Cater is the best. He works so hard and it’s about to pay off because I really feel like we’re going to win a bunch of races this year.”
In the meanwhile, Majeski continues the be standard in Super Late Model races right now.
His past 12 months have featured wins in the 2020 Rattler, held in May, the Slinger Nationals, another Dixieland 250, his first Snowball Derby triumph and now the record-setting Rattler win.
This one is also special due to surpassing the record held by Sanders.
“It means a lot as a Midwest team,” Majeski said. “These guys are tough in the south. As a midwestern guy, we like to come down here and beat up on the southern guys as they like to come to our stomping grounds and beat up on us. It’s always fun when you can come to a different region and perform well, and that’s what we’ve been able to do.”
And despite all the wins, and all the success, Majeski still doesn’t take these for granted.
“No, you never do” Majeski said. “Every win is special for different reasons, but especially races like these. It’s like the Snowball Derby on Sunday once everyone has qualified. Everyone is here and we had to beat the best in the country. We take a lot of pride in that.”
The complete results from the Rattler 250 can be found below.
- Ty Majeski
- Stephen Nasse
- Daniel Dye
- Derek Griffith
- Kyle Plott
- Kyle McCallum
- Jake Garcia
- Bubba Pollard
- Carson Hocevar
- Jett Noland
- Grant Enfinger
- Nick Neri
- Dusty Williams
- Augie Grill
- Michael Hinde
- Sammy Smith
- Hunter Robbins
- Colin Garrett
- Kyle Bryant
- Tyler Roahrig
- Austin Nason
- Johnny Brazier
- Connor Okrzesik
- Steve Dorer
- Anthony Sergi
- Michael House
- Hudson Halder
- Jake Finch
- John DeAngelis
- Willie Allen
- Brian Campbell
- Jeremy Pate
- Casey Roderick