NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Stephen Nasse may have locked himself into the super late model portion of All American 400 weekend on Saturday at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, but that didn’t mean he was happy after qualifying.
Nasse’s familiar No. 51 was only 18th-best on the speed charts at the .596-mile paved oval, far from the race-winning speed he showed in the event one year ago, when he led a race-high 183 laps.
A sour motor and subsequent crash with 29 to go derailed Nasse’s efforts that day, leaving him more motivated than ever to take home one of Nashville’s famed guitar trophies this time around.
Unfortunately, thanks to some pesky handling problems which plagued Nasse most of the day Saturday, he’ll have a lot of traffic to make his way through Sunday afternoon to accomplish that goal.
“The car just has been lacking drive all weekend,” Nasse told SPEED SPORT in advance of the 300-lap race. “I could just tell right when I pulled out on the track (for qualifying) that I wasn’t going to have a very good lap. I had more of a handful than what I needed, but we’ve been working so hard all weekend trying to get a (strong) ride and just haven’t been able to hit on anything yet. We’re going to go through this thing and go piece by piece … and whatever we can replace, we’re going to replace. Hopefully, we can get a (worthwhile) result.
“Three hundred laps is a long time, but it’s even longer if you have an ill-handling car, so hopefully we can get it better and be in the mix tomorrow,” Nasse continued. “We’re going to work hard here. We had a lot of work to do last night, but my guys pulled it off and we’re at least in the show. That’s always nice, and hopefully race day is a better day for us.”
Nasse has compiled an impressive record in long-distance super late model races over the past five years, even though he doesn’t necessarily have the trophies to show for the speed he’s had.
Aside from leading the most laps in last year’s All American 400, Nasse finished fourth in the grueling event in 2016. He also has five-straight top-seven finishes in the Winchester 400 at Winchester (Ind.) Speedway, including a win in that race in 2019.
Suffice it to say that the endurance style of short-track racing is something that Nasse is proficient at, a fact he spoke to when looking ahead to this year’s All American feature.
“I like the longer shows,” Nasse said, a faint smile on his face as he did so. “I think anything that’s more than 150 laps is really in my wheelhouse. I love those style of long races. When you can just go in, say, a 100-lap race or something like that, it’s just not really my favorite way of going about things. Not a lot of strategy comes out if somebody can get it right and run away, you know? In a 300- or 400-lapper, or even in a 250-lap race, you know you’re going to get a caution at some point to tighten the field back up.
“Hopefully the long race plays in my favor this weekend,” he added. “I was able to pass 15 cars at Pensacola in about 15 laps (during a recent Blizzard Series event), so hopefully I can make up my way through the field and be there at the end.”
The super late model portion of All American 400 weekend is scheduled for a 3 p.m. CT start Sunday.