Crash Eliminates Stephen Nasse, Michael Atwell from Speedfest

Both No. 51 cars were inside the top-5 within 10 laps to go.


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Both hailing from Central Florida, Stephen Nasse and Michael Atwell have raced with each other a lot over the past decade without incident, and that history likely prevented their incident near the end of Speedfest from boiling over.

On a restart with 10 laps to go, Atwell and Nasse door slammed into Turn 1 racing inside the top-5 and it happened again a lap later when they made their way back into the first corner. The contact this time sent both cars around and even destroyed the Rackley WAR No. 26 of Josh Berry right behind them.

Immediately after the crash, crew chief and notorious hothead Chris Cater wanted revenge, but Nasse was the voice of reason and said they’d take care of it after the race. Nasse said his car was drivable and wanted to see how it would play out.

Atwell and Nasse finished seventh and eighth and were parked right next to each other. Cater gave Atwell a piece of his mind after the drivers had climbed out, while Nasse went into his hauler to calm down.

"I don't know," Atwell said. "The first time, I thought, was a 50-50 deal. The second time, my nose was literally dragging the wall, so you'll have to ask him. I don't know if someone got into him from behind or if he was pinching my right front, but at the end of the day, we passed like 13 cars today and I wish we had a better finish to show for it."

All told, Atwell was apologetic for what happened at the end to both Nasse and Berry. He said he tried to explain his view point to Cater, but the crew chief wasn’t hearing it.

"No, he thinks they have to win every race," Atwell said. "He doesn’t want to hear it when they might have been at fault. But we’ve always raced with them and we’ll keep racing with them."

After cooling off, Nasse said this wasn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but he did want to chat with Atwell just to clear the air. He doesn’t fully understand how it got to that point.

"I guess the first one was an accident," Nasse said. "He knew I wasn’t happy about it so when he went by me, he gave me a thumbs up that it was an accident. The second, I don’t know what he was thinking. I was following right in line with (Chandler Smith) and he just wiped me out even harder this time.

"I know he probably didn’t mean to, and I was waiting to cool off before talking to him. It’s not worth getting rowdy over, because I don’t think he meant to, but at the same time, it’s pretty unacceptable. It cost us both a good finish.

"We just needed a clean restart, and I know I was struggling a little bit but I wasn’t trying to crowd him or pinch anyone. I guess he just needs to learn to get a handle on his race car."

Nasse says he has a lot going on in 2022 and there is no reason to let it start on the wrong foot. The 26-year-old has long had a reputation for a big temper -- but he's also mellowed out in recent years.

He showed it immediately after the crash and how he chose to handle this particular incident, too.

"That’s me now," Nasse said. "I’m just not as hot headed right away. It just doesn’t seem worth it to me. Don’t get me wrong. I could go down that route, and I’m not scared to go voice my displeasure, but at the same time, I’m trying to choose my battles wisely.

"I think it was a mistake on his end, but we’ll figure it out when I get down there and talk to him and see what he says to my face."