Stephen Nasse is going back to the future for the 2021 Super Late Model and Pro Late Model seasons.
After spending three years aligned with Pat Jett Motorsports out of Orange Park, Florida, the 25-year-old has reformed the Stephen Nasse Racing banner which will eventually operate closer to his family home in the greater Tampa area.
Nasse joined Jett Motorsports in 2018 after spending his formative years with David ‘Buggy’ Pletcher and DLP Motorsports. During his tenure with Jett, Nasse has become one of the most prominent personalities and performers in straight rail Late Model competition.
His highlights include leading all but eight laps in the 2019 Winchester 400, along with victories in the 2019 U.S. Short Track Nationals at Bristol Motor Speedway. The team also still claims the mantle of unofficial 2019 Snowball Derby winners following their disqualification that night for an unapproved brake package.
The team opened 2020 with wins in the Orange Blossom 100 at New Smyrna, the Pro Late Model Baby Rattler at South Alabama Speedway and the CARS Tour – Southern Super Series co-sanctioned race at Greenville-Pickens Speedway.
So, what led to the parting of ways?
“I was with Jett for three years and it was a great three years but doing construction and pile-driving in St. Pete wasn’t doing it for me,” Nasse said. “I wasn’t going to move to Jacksonville. I wanted to station everything local.
“Really, I just wanted to have my own cars under our own umbrella. It seemed best that way. It seemed like a sudden decision, and it was, but there’s no hard feelings. We’re still friends. It just needed to happen sooner rather than later, because we have some big races coming up and I just needed to watch over the cars and be more hands on.”
While Nasse did not directly cite mechanical failures as part of the decision-making process, the past two years have been marred by DNFs or reliability complications that eliminated the No. 51 from some of the biggest races during that span.
Electrical and clutch issues have repeatedly plagued Nasse the past two years, and the driver said he wanted the fault to land at his feet moving forward if his car broke.
“It makes me feel better if I can wear the blame when something bad happens,” Nasse said. “There’s been a lot of things that happened lately, and I believe we can minimize some of that stuff and win some of these big races. That’s the plan this season. I plan to pick up where we left off in Nashville.”
Nasse will retain crew chief Chris Cater and the new team will make its debut on May 7-8 at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway in the North South Super Late Model challenge sanctioned by the Southern Super Series, CARS Tour and CRA Super Series.
The Nasses have owned all of their cars and equipment, but they were housed at the Jett shop near Jacksonville, Florida. For now, Nasse will house his cars in the Mike Cope Racing shop in Clearwater until they can construct their own building.
The Copes have operated a Super Late Model program alongside a Trans-Am team over the past several decades and will lend assistance as well.
“I’m really excited,” Nasse added. “I’m grateful for Mike Cope Racing for giving us a shop and a place to work for now until we get our own set up. I’m looking forward for what the season will bring.”
Jett Motorsports has a growing driver development platform that has included Corey Heim and Jett Noland in recent years. The team recently purchased an ARCA car to further grow that arm of the business. Nasse says another part of his decision was simply a matter of wanting more a focus to be placed on his cars without conflict.
The Jetts have a lot of hands in a lot of different figurative pots.
“Jett has a lot of things going with some younger talent,” Nasse said. “At the end of the day, I want a little more focus on my cars, so you just have to do what you need to do.”
At the same time, Nasse credits the Jetts for both his personal and professional growth during their tenure together.
Nasse has earned a reputation as a hot head but has genuinely become more thoughtful and meticulous in recent years. There is surely a correlation between that and the company he’s kept.
“Just being around a businessman like Pat Jett has been huge,” Nasse said. “He’s cool and mellow even in the most intense situations. It showed during our last Snowflake ordeal. His wife, all of them, they’re a great group of people who have really helped me mellow out.
“My family has helped with that, too. My niece and two nephews. It’s full circle. I’ve known Cody Jett for a long time since I’ve raced Late Models. This is just something I felt like we needed to do.”
Nasse also made his Late Model Stock debut over the weekend, finishing fifth in the Old North State Nationals at Orange County Speedway, in a brand-new car owned by Jamie Yelton’s Fathead Racing.
It’s a group that intends to chase a grandfather clock in September at Martinsville Speedway.
“Jamie Yelton has been a good friend of mine for a long time,” Nasse said. “We’ve been talking about it for years. He’s put together a new car, and it’s a nice car, it’s just hard to figure out all the bugs. With a new driver to Late Model Stocks, it doesn’t help either, but we’re going to be ready for Martinsville.”
Brandon White contributed to this post.