The critics have been loud for nearly a decade. But now it’s time for them to sit down and listen. For the last seven-plus years, Stephen Nasse has heard the catcalls and boos, read the articles and tweets and watched the videos all saying the same thing: he didn’t have what it takes to be a winner.
After 300 laps at Mobile International Speedway Sunday, it’s Nasse’s turn to talk.
He took control of the Mobile 300 in the second half of the event, and never looked back after taking the lead for good on lap 214.
In the final stages, he lapped up to fifth place, and could have went further if not for a competition yellow with 30 laps to go. The final sprint was no different, and he pulled away from the field to claim the biggest win of his career.
“I was almost in tears in the car because this means so much to me,” said Nasse. “I have went through so much, with people downing me and doubting me. Today, we about lapped the field. It definitely feels good to give the others a punch right in the gut and show that we are just as good as everyone else. Tonight, we put it on all of ‘em. ”
Since winning the Easter Bunny 150 in 2011, Nasse saw his seemingly bright future dim somewhat. Over the last seven-plus years, Nasse has had more than his fair share of run-ins, controversy and heated moments.
Four years ago, Nasse was involved in an on-track scuffle with Brian Webster at Showtime Speedway in Florida. In 2015, Nasse had clashes with Steve Wallace at Southern National Motorsports Park in North Carolina. In 2016, he had memorable tangles with Dalton Sargeant at Winchester Speedway and William Byron at the Snowball Derby. Earlier in 2018, Nasse went to blows with Donnie Wilson in the Blizzard Series opener and he and Josh Brock had an infamous post-race encounter following the Redbud 400.
The incidents, combined with the near-debilitating battle with a severe case of pneumonia in 2013, fueled his desire to win even more so.
When all the dust was settled at Mobile, Nasse had his marquee win and a chance to talk about the past
“I have always been up front, and right there my entire career,” said Nasse. “I just had so much stuff happen to me to keep me from winning consistently. I was sick and then later my attitude wasn’t right and got the best of me. Now is my chance to shine, and show that I can do this no matter what other people say.”
Bubba Pollard began his rise to the top of the late model world in his early 20’s. Although, Nasse has been racing for years, he is still just 23 years old.
Sunday’s win could be the launching pad for his own climb to rock-star-like status.
“This is the type of win that can lead to a lot of others,” said Nasse. “This isn’t just a regular series race or whatever. This is 300 laps against some of the best racers out there. This could be my breakout day. I sure need it.”