Stephen Nasse

Photo courtesy 5FlagsSpeedway.com

Stephen Nasse DQ’d, Travis Braden declared Snowball Derby winner

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What was the greatest day of Stephen Nasse’s late model racing career turned into the biggest nightmare just over two hours later.

After roaring through the field from a next-to-last starting position (36th in the 37-driver field) to win the 52nd Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida, Nasse and his car were disqualified due to an illegal equipment violation found in post-race inspection.

As a result, original race runner-up Travis Braden was ruled the winner, while 14-year-old Jake Garcia, making his first career Snowball Derby start, moved up from third-place to runner-up.

This marks the third time since 2013 that the Snowball Derby winner has been disqualified for violations: Chase Elliott was DQ’d in 2013, giving the win to Erik Jones; and then in 2015, Christopher Bell was DQ’d, giving the win to Elliott.

Nasse was DQ’d for a titanium violation in the brake system of his car, apparently the first time such equipment has been found in Derby cars. Here’s an interview with chief technical inspector Ricky Brooks, courtesy of AutoWeek.com’s Matt Weaver, explaining Nasse’s disqualification:

Braden, a West Virginia native, told Speed51.com about his victory, “It feels very special. But I know it’s going to feel more special with a little bit of time. It stinks we couldn’t have won the race outright, but I know these guys won the Snowball Derby. We brought a car here capable of winning this race outright.”

Nasse took to Twitter to express his feelings about being disqualified:

Nasse’s car was the only one to fail post-race inspection.

Had Garcia won, he would have been the youngest winner in Derby history (Chase Elliott holds that record at 16 years, 6 days old, in 2011).

Rounding out the top five were Canadian native Cole Butcher in third, Jesse Dutilly in fourth and Preston Peltier in fifth. The race was originally scheduled to be run Sunday, but persistent rain pushed the event to Monday afternoon/evening.

Braden adds his name to a long list of Derby winners including Kyle Busch (2009, 2017), Erik Jones (2012, 2013), John Hunter Nemecheck (2014), Chase Elliott (2011, 2015), Christian Eckes (2016) and Noah Gragson (2018).

Several other notables and their finishing positions included veteran Cup driver David Gilliland (27th), JR Motorsports driver Josh Berry (29th), and NASCAR Cup driver Corey LaJoie, who suffered early problems and finished 31st. Former Roush Fenway Racing Xfinity Series driver Ty Majeski finished 13th, and ARCA Menards Pro Series West (formerly K&N Pro Series West) driver Derek Kraus finished 18th.

Majeski appeared headed to the win with less than two laps to go when he was involved in a multi-car wreck on Lap 317, bringing out a red flag race stoppage.

That opened the door for Nasse, Braden and Garcia — before Nasse was disqualified.

As a result, instead of earning what would have been the 100th late model win of his career, the 25-year-old Majeski, a native of Seymour, Wisconsin, was left with a wrecked race car and finished 13th.

“I’m just extremely frustrated,” Majeski told Speed51.com. “We had a real good car, a car plenty capable of winning. This is a tough one. Man, it sucks.”

Here are the updated results:

52nd Annual Snowball Derby Official Results

Pos. # Driver
1 26b Travis Braden
2 35 Jake Garcia
3 53b Cole Butcher
4 30 Jesse Dutilly
5 48 Preston Peltier
6 51s Chandler Smith
7 22 Casey Roderick
8 18 Hunter Robbins
9 36 Dan Fredrickson
10 53j Boris Jurkovic
11 119 Dalton Zehr
12 12G Derek Griffith
13 91 Ty Majeski
14 9C Jeff Choquette
15 43 Derek Thorn
16 81 Giovanni Bromante
17 7d John DeAngelis
18 2 Derek Kraus
19 54c Matt Craig
20 9m Brad May
21 51a Michael Altwell
22 20m Cole Moore
23 75 Jeremy Doss
24 16 Lucas Jones
25 26p Bubba Pollard
26 10 Kaden Honeycutt
27 54g David Gilliland
28 112 Augie Grill
29 57 Josh Berry
30 14c Connor Okrzesik
31 7 Corey LaJoie
32 21p Jeremy Pate
33 11 David Rogers
34 15 Rodrigo Rejon
35 4 Kyle Plott
36 78 Corey Heim
37 51n Stephen Nasse DQ

 

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Noah Gragson wins Snowball Derby for Kyle Busch Motorsports

@KBMteam Twitter
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Noah Gragson took the lead from Harrison Burton with a handful of laps remaining in the 51st annual Snowball Derby to give Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) back-to-back wins in the prestigious Super Late Model race.

Last year, Kyle Busch scored the victory. 

Ty Majeski held on to finish second ahead of Jeff Choquette. Conor Okrzesik and Casey Roderick rounded out the top five.

It appeared to be Burton’s race to lose. He chased down Majeski with 25 laps remaining and held the top spot for five laps before a caution waved for Kale Bryant’s spin. Most of the leaders pitted under that caution, but Burton chose to stay out on old tires.

Burton faded to 10th in the final rundown.

With 16 laps remaining, Majeski was instrumental in the final caution. He and Bubba Pollard spun after making contact in Turns 1 and 2. The incident put an end to Pollard’s Snowball Derby bid for the 13th time. Pollard finished 11 laps off the pace in 26th. Last year, he finished third. KBM kept their drivers in contention with fast work in the pits and on the track.

On Lap 90, Noah Gragson came in running third and left with the lead. KBM teammate Raphael Lessard came in fifth and left second.

The Snowball Derby started during the day time and ended under the lights for the first time in its history.

When the lights came on about the Lap 175 mark with Choquette, Lessard, Gragson, Pollard, Majeski and Burton were in the top six and they remained in contention until the final laps.

On Lap 213, Majeski took the lead from Choquette just before Stephen Nasse backed hard into the wall. Nasse had charged from the back to challenge for the top 10 by lap 100, but a mistake in the pits cost him a chance at victory.

After the incident, Nasse confronted his pit crew for leaving two tires loose on the last pit stop.

NASCAR Truck series driver Stewart Friesen started 14th, but sustained right front damage on a caution following an early restart. He retired in 34th on Lap 58.

The 2018 K&N East champion Tyler Ankrum started 24th and finished eighth.

Steven Wallace, son of Rusty Wallace, suffered a mechanical failure and stalled on the pace laps of the last chance qualifier. He was unable to continue.