Nasse Shakes off Derby Frustrations to Win #Forever11 on Night 1 of Rowdy Energy Twin 100s

Nasse Shakes off Derby Frustrations to Win #Forever11 on Night 1 of Rowdy Energy Twin 100s

 

By Chuck Corder

The famed Tom Dawson Trophy and Snowball Derby titles are irreplaceable.

Stephen Nasse thought he had his career-defining win six months ago at Five Flags Speedway when he crossed under the checkered flag first in the 53rd running of short-track’s most prestigious race.

Unfortunately, an historic moment for the Pinellas Park native was erased when post-race technical inspection officials disqualified Nasse’s No. 51 Super Late Model.

He took a major step in burying that early-December nightmare with a late-June celebration at Pensacola’s high banks Friday on the first night of the Rowdy Energy Twin 100s.

After 10 years desperately trying, Nasse won his first career Deep South Cranes Blizzard Series race. He captured the #Forever11 100 against 35 of the best Super Late Model drivers in the country. The race honored longtime Late Model driver David Rogers, who died in March.

“They definitely made me work for it at the end,” said Nasse, whose victory earned him a $10,000 pay day. “Through all the things we’ve been through here recently, this feels good. What I love about this team is they work their tails off. We’ve got a lot more coming. I think we can win tomorrow night, as well.”

Nasse goes for an unprecedented sweep at the Universal Fabricators 100 tonight. After the Derby disappointment, Nasse would love nothing better than to cap the Rowdy Energy Twin 100s doubleheader weekend with back-to-back Blizzard Series triumphs.

“Hopefully tomorrow night we’re just as good and come away with the same result,” he said.

The SLMs will be joined by the WCIparts.com Pro Trucks and the Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks. Gates open at 4 p.m. today and admission is as follows: $20 for adults; $17 for seniors, military, and students; and children ages 11-and-under get in free.

Pensacola transplant Hunter Robbins led much of the race but couldn’t hold off Nasse passing him on the inside lane on Lap 65. Robbins, back driving full-time for the first time in five years, finished runner-up driving for the legend Ronnie Sanders.

Bubba Pollard settled for third. For #Forever11, Pollard was in the seat of the renowned TM Ranch No. 11 SLM on Friday, assuredly making his late friend Rogers extremely proud. Rogers, who lost his prolonged battle with cancer in four months ago, drove the No. 11 for three decades and set a new Derby record for starts (33) last year.

The minutes that unfurled moments before the green flag dropped to start the #Forever11 100 were as powerful and poignant as any you’ll find in sport. The massive crowd rose to their feet as Pollard pulled the TM Ranch No. 11 out of line from his ninth starting spot. He eased the hammer down on his buddy’s iconic white-blue-orange machine whose No. 11 was the silhouette of horses.

Pollard gradually passed the pace car, taking a ceremonial lap around Pensacola’s high banks to honor Rogers. Flag man Dan Spence waved two checkered flags. They honored a man who was easy to talk to and never met a question he didn’t mind answering. They honored a six-time Florida state champion in the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series. They pay tribute to the man who won the Governor’s Cup, Orange Blossom 100, Red Eye 100, and many more legendary short-track races.

A scan of the packed crowd could not find a dry eye anywhere around the famed half-mile asphalt oval.

Faith Chapel Outlaws.

Patient short-track drivers are not a dime a dozen.

The need for speed implies you’re desperate to be out front, occupying clean air and leaving your rivals in billowing clouds of fumes and flakes of tire rubber.

But instead of forcing the issue early in the Faith Chapel Outlaws 35-lap feature on Friday at Five Flags Speedway, John Heil bided his time and sought the perfect opportunity to pass then-leader Bubba Winslow.

Heil mirrored Winslow around Pensacola’s high banks for a few laps and when Winslow slid up the track to open the inside groove with seven laps remaining, Heil pounced.

The Texas driver passed the Cantonment driver with ease on Lap 28 and Heil pulled away from the 12-car field to win for the second time this season.

“I’m blessed and having a lotta fun,” said Heil, the defending Snowball Derby Outlaws winner. “The car was really good. I love seeing all these people come out here.

“These guys are getting faster. Bubba gave me all the room to pass, and I thank him for racing me clean. I’m sure I’ll get to return that favor sometime this season.”

Winslow, fresh off an Outlaws win at Crisp Motorsports Park in Cordele, Ga., finished second and Pace’s Todd Jones came home third.

While Heil provided the exclamation point, the 35 lapper got off to a slow start with three cautions and two red flags in the first four laps.

Heil climbed to second behind Winslow on Lap 6 but was comfortable enough to ride around the half-mile asphalt oval as the laps mounted on the track scoreboard. He finally pulled to Winslow’s bumper around Lap 22 and finally completed the pass six laps later.

 

 

Lloyds Glass Pure Stocks

Despite his NFL quarterback buddy putting him behind the sticks, Jerry Goff Jr. needed no trick plays to find the end zone Friday night at Five Flags Speedway.

The Lucedale, Miss., driver kicked off by setting a new Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks series track record (21.360 seconds) in qualifying. And – despite car owner A.J. McCarron, a Houston Texans quarterback, lofting a worst-possible die roll of “six” to set the invert for the 25-lap feature – Goff had little trouble finding daylight to his second win of the season.

“I couldn’t be prouder of these guys,” said Goff, who won the Pure Stocks Snowball Derby in December. “We knew we had to get faster and that’s exactly what these guys did for me. We had a great car tonight and we put it on ’em.”

With the win, Goff narrowly pulled ahead of teenager Daryl McDonald III in the division’s points championship race. McDonald, who also has two victories this year, took home runner-up honors and Dylan Courtney’s impressive run netted him the final podium spot.

Goff was certainly on his “A” game, reaching second on Lap 4 and he had a vice grip on the lead four laps later.

He ended up winning by nearly three full seconds against McDonald. As fast as Goff was in the 25 lapper, he still wanted to talk about how quick his fast time was earlier in the evening.

“That surprised me a little bit,” Goff said. “I knew we were quick, but when they pointed me to tech, I guessed it was really good.”