Southern Super Series
Wild, Wild SpeedFest Becoming a Super Late Model Major
Jan 28, 2022
It’s actually hard to believe Stephen Nasse hasn’t won the SpeedFest 200, now 150, Super Late Model race at Watermelon Capital Speedway yet.
The 26-year-old already has a win in the Pro Late Model portion of the event and the No. 51 has raced up front for each of the past five runnings. Nasse has led 134 laps the past two years. Everyone who flocks to Cordele, Georgia each January says this is a must-win race, but that’s not entirely why Nasse wants to cross this one off the list.
"You know, for me and I don't know if it's good or bad, but to be honest with you, I just don't pay attention to stuff like that," Nasse told Racing America on Thursday. "Every race to me is the same, and I go to them really wanting to win.
"I won't get to the end on Saturday and think to myself, 'Hey, I haven't won Speedfest' and drive harder. When it gets crazy at the end of these races, I don't think it's because we have or haven't won a race. We just want to win races."
Nasse says it's important to win the first race of the year because it sets a tone for the rest of the year. That's why Speedfest tends to be much-wilder than other Super Late Model events at the 3/8-mile bullring.
Still, Nasse knows he probably could have or should have won this one over the past four iterations. He finished third and sixth in 2017 and 2018. He led 47 laps in 2019 and finished fifth after choosing the wrong tire strategy. He led 87 laps in 2020 and finished 17th following a black flag for intentionally spinning Bubba Pollard after a bump-and-run for the lead in the previous corner.
"It is unfortunate that I haven't pulled-off a win," Nasse said. "There have definitely been a lot of close calls, and we've had a lot of good race cars, but it just takes the total package to pull off a win here."
Probably some luck, too.
Nasse said his test day went well and was just a matter of ‘fine-tuning’ his notebook from those previous near-miss seasons. There are few reasons to expect Nasse wouldn’t contend again based on the past half-decade of data.
"It’s always a short off-season, but I feel really good about some things we hit on at the Derby and then here," Nasse said. "I’m really confident about this season and hoping that we can kind of pick back up where we were a year or so go.
"Hopefully we find ourselves in victory lane and that’s what it’s all about. We’re just getting fined tuned to get us there."