NEW SMYRNA, Fla. – Stephen Nasse put bad luck behind him Friday night – and the rest of the super late model field at New Smyrna Speedway.
The 18-year-old from Pinellas Park, Fla., picked up the 35-lap victory on the first night of the track’s 48th Annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing.
“We definitely have a lot of work to do if we want to stay out front all week,” said Nasse, who suffered a blown engine the night before the track’s Pete Orr Memorial 100 in January that kept him from running that event. “Stephen Wallace had a fast car tonight. Definitely a lot faster than me. He just wasn’t able to get past me.
“We’ve got a lot of stuff to do. It’s a long week, we have to keep the nose clean, our minds clear and get on with the show.”
While the sport’s top stars hit the track up the road for Sprint Unlimited practice at Daytona Int’l Speedway, the sport’s future was on display at the historic banked half-mile.
Four of the top five finishers were 20 and under.
Nasse held off veteran driver Steven Wallace for the win. Kyle Benjamin (16 years old), Ross Kenseth (20) and Cameron Hayley (17) rounded out the top five.
“Starts didn’t go our way tonight,” said Benjamin. “But I feel like if we can get some luck tomorrow and get back to where we usually run, we should be fine. Looking forward to tomorrow night. Third’s a good way to start and we didn’t wreck it.”
Benjamin qualified fastest over Wallace, T.J. Duke, Kenseth and Jeff Scofield. A pre-race inversion of the top three put Duke and Wallace on the front row, with Wallace jumping to the lead on the first lap. Schofeld stalled on Lap 6 with Nasse behind Wallace.
On the ensuing restart, Wallace chose the inside lane – which played right into Nasse’s hands.
“I wasn’t expecting him to pick the inside,” Nasse said. “Normally you pick the outside in this place. But I guess he’ll learn that later in the week. Maybe he’ll get his car going on the inside and he will win a bunch of nights. But I normally like to pick the outside and so does 90% of the people that run around this place. So I got lucky with him wanting the inside.”
“I definitely thought we had the best car for sure tonight,” Wallace said. “Nasse’s car would just go really good on the initial restarts, where he could run the top. I didn’t really feel comfortable putting my car up there on the restarts.”
Nasse again used the outside on a subsequent restart to rocket out front. Wallace closed the gap late and the two tussled for the lead, but Nasse was able to hold on to the top spot.
“He got into me a little bit but it was just racing,” Nasse said. “I appreciate him running him clean. I’ll definitely remember that the rest of the week.”
“I feel like we had a shot to win it,” Wallace said. “I could have moved him two or three times to win the race, but it’s night one of seven. And trust me, it’ll get a lot wilder throughout the week. We started out nice and conservative, have a good race car that isn’t tore up and we’ll load it up and head to the hotel without having to sit here until 4 o’clock in the morning fixing it.”
Defending NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Florida champion David Rogers was sixth, followed by Spencer Davis, Ryan Moore, Matt Tifft and Cody Coughlin.
Ron Silk rolled to the win in the tour-type 35-lap Modified race over Jimmy Zacharias, Chuck Hossfeld. Defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Ryan Preece was fourth, followed by Eric Goodale.
Spencer Davis won the Pro Late Model feature. Jerry Symons held off NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Vermont champion Todd Stone.