Misfortune Befalls Several Contenders in Clyde Hart Memorial

Stephen Nasse, William Sawalich and Bubba Pollard all suffered issues while contending for the win Tuesday night.


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For the first half of the Clyde Hart Memorial at New Smyrna Speedway, it looked like the last place anyone wanted to be was in first place.

Several of the front runners in the ASA Southern Super Series season opener fell by the wayside with a variety of mechanical issues and gremlins, setting the stage for William Byron to score the victory.

The first to run into a problem was Stephen Nasse. Nasse had taken the lead from Bubba Pollard on lap 16 and led until lap 40, when he slowed down the backstretch and pulled behind the wall. The resulting 29th place finish is hardly the start Nasse hoped for in his pursuit of a third Southern Super Series title.

“We’ve got a lot on the line with the Southern Super Series. I really wanted to win this race. There was some good competition in the field. We were able to get by Bubba on that restart, so I was really happy with that. I was able to control the race there and set a pace.

“It didn’t let me know it was going to happen. There weren’t any warning signs whatsoever. Nothing changed in the car. All of a sudden, down the backstretch it let go. I did my best to pull down and get out of the way.”

Just a few laps later, William Sawalich slowed from the second position, coming to a stop in turn four to bring out the caution.

“The car just blew up,” said Sawalich. “Nothing I could really do there. We had a really strong run before that. I felt like that was definitely our race, but we have another 100-lapper and a good notebook for that, so we’ll be pretty good for that one.”

Sawalich entered Tuesday night tied for the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing points lead with Casey Roderick. A 23rd-place finish likely sours any hopes of Sawalich to claim the title, but his focus will remain on adding to his win total and backing up his victory on Saturday night.

“The plan is still to win races. I think that was always the plan and always should be the plan.”

Lastly, there was Bubba Pollard, who regained the lead following Nasse’s misfortune on lap 41. However, his time in the lead ended in a shower of sparks down the frontstretch on lap 54, as a broken fender brace brought him to pit road.

“Just had a fender brace come apart and break on us,” said Pollard. “That’s a tough one, you know. We had a good car that could compete for the win. When you have something like that happens, it’s tough. I feel like we had a car capable of winning, and I would have liked to race it out, for sure."

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