Sometimes it pays to be good and other times it pays to be lucky.
Stephen Nasse was the first to admit he was the latter, at least to a degree, on Friday night after Night 1 of the World Series of Asphalt at New Smyrna Speedway.
Nasse posted the ninth-fastest time in time trials at the famous Florida half-mile but started second thanks to a 10-car invert. He beat Paul Shafer Jr. into Turn 1 on Lap 1 and never looked back.
“I would say it was the luck of the draw a little bit,” Nasse said. “I would say so. Our times held up well after a couple of laps so I was kind of surprised too. Even if we hadn’t gotten the draw, we had the times so I think we would have been good. I know we had clean air, but I feel good about my car and we made good gains from practice and qualifying. I feel like we’re going to have a really good week.”
The 22-year-old has competed in every World Series since his rookie season in 2010. He now has six victories in 43 starts in the Super Late Model Speedweeks classic but a championship has eluded him over the years.
Now that he struck first in 2018, he hopes he can manage the gap over the next eight nights.
“It takes a lot of pressure off us,” Nasse said. “Getting the win tonight means we just have to keep plugging away with top-5s and maybe some top-3s.”
There was a caution with nine laps to go, but Shafer admits he didn’t have anything for Nasse on Friday. Instead, he had his hands full with third-place finisher Harrison Burton.
“He was in his own universe tonight,” Shafer said.
Burton had the best car but simply ran out of time in traffic. He qualified third but had to start seventh due to the invert.
“I know they make the races exciting, but it sucks when you have a car that good and you have to pass that many people in such a short amount of time,” Burton said. “But that’s part of it. We showed that we can pass and had a lot of fun and that’s what it’s about.”
The only caution occurred on Lap 26 when Jeff Choquette spun into the wall off the bumper of 2016 World Series champion Ty Majeski. The contact occurred while navigating through lap traffic and seemed entirely incidental, but race control sent Majeski to the rear for contact.
He ultimately finished 11th, after posting the second best speed in time trials, and started eighth.
“First of all, the track just didn’t have a lot of grip,” Majeski said. “I was better than (Choquette) and (Burton) was probably faster than me, but none of us could pass each other. Just real slick in the humid temperatures.
“I got the outside on Jeff, and pinned him behind the lap car. I could tell he wanted to clear me. if I had a run, I was going to clear him over the next few corners. He just tried to get out and kept coming up and up and up and pretty soon, I ran out of room and put him into the wall. I hate it for him, but it’s the first night, it’s a long week and it’s unfortunate we had a car get torn up.”
Given the track conditions, Choquette said he couldn’t afford to let Majeski get by.
“He’s not someone you can just let by,” Choquette said. “Spotter said he was outside and I was trying to crowd him as much as I could to keep my line. I got the short end of the stick. Damage isn’t too bad. Mostly cosmetic but we can race tomorrow.”
The complete results from Super Late Model Night One of the World Series of Asphalt can be viewed below.
- Stephen Nasse
- Paul Shafer Jr.
- Harrison Burton
- Sam Mayer
- David Rogers
- Ryan Moore
- Matt Wallace
- Anthony Sergi
- Brad May
- Derek Kraus
- Ty Majeski
- Joe Graf Jr.
- Derek Griffith
- Gabe Sommers
- Chet Morrison
- Danny Foster
- Jeff Choquette
- Tyler Dippel
- Steve Weaver
- Cole Anderson
- Russ Shaw
Read more Short Track Scene:
- PASS to promote new Late Model event at Richmond Raceway
- CARS Tour offers souped-up loyalty program for LMSCs in 2018
- Lee Pulliam retires from full-time racing