Nasse, Pollard, and Sawalich Have Issues at the Front
New Smyrna, FL (Tuesday, February 14, 2023) - The season is officially underway for the ASA Southern Super Series Presented by Sunoco Race Fuels (SSS) with the completion of the Clyde Hart Memorial 100 from New Smyrna Speedway on Tuesday night. The race marked the first-ever SSS-sanctioned race during the Speedway’s signature World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing. A healthy crowd watched as a field of 34 drivers looked to take home the $10,000 prize at the end of 100 laps.
James Lynch and Bubba Pollard led the field to green, with Pollard, the all-time winningest SSS driver, jumping out to the early lead. Just two laps into the race, the first caution of the night flew when the field stacked up coming off turn two. Nearly everyone made it down the backstretch without incident, however, Ohio native Brandon Short locked up the brakes and spun to the inside of the backstretch. His night would come to an end with a failed brake line.
Pollard was able to survive the restart alongside Stephen Nasse but was only able to make six rotations around the Speedway before another caution flew when Nicholas Naugle and Kris Wright made contact getting into turn one. The pair came to a stop after contact at the bottom of the race track; both drivers were able to continue.
Again, Pollard was back at the point on the latest restart, but was slowed once again when Stewart Friesen slowed at the exit of turn four. The problems would spell the end of the night for the full-time NASCAR Craftsmen Truck Series driver.
Pollard’s luck on restarts finally ran out on lap 15 when Nasse got a jump on the inside of the race track and edged Pollard getting into turn one. By the time the duo raced onto the back straightaway, Nasse had secured his no. 51 at the front of the field. The defending All American 400 and Winchester 400 champion set sail, opening up a several-car length advantage over Pollard. Nasse led 24 laps before a mechanical problem sent him to pit road, handing the lead back over to Pollard.
Just two laps into Pollard's return to the front, the yellow was displayed once again when Jett Noland and defending SSS Champion Hunter Robbins tangled in turn one. The crash spelled the end of the night for the Alabama driver; Nolad was able to continue.
Pollard, now holding off four-time NASCAR Cup Series winner, William Byron, would lead for another four laps before the field was slowed once again. Donnie Wilson Motorsports driver, William Sawalich slowed after smoke showed on his Mobil 1 no. 2 machine going into turn three. The result of an apparent oil leak, Sawalich’s night came to an end.
Another restart and another successful jump out to the front for Pollard. Seven more laps on the board before the next caution flew; this time for Pollard himself. A body brace on the front of the no. 26 came loose and was lodged in between the tire and the frame rail of the car. As sparks flew, Pollard slowed entering turn one when the caution was displayed. This officially handed the lead over to Byron for the final 46 laps.
Byron, who had won a World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing feature the night before, set his no. 24 on cruise control, leading the rest of the race without disruption. The closest battle at the front was for second between Jake Finch and Casey Roderick, one that Finch was able to secure and hang on to coming down the stretch. Byron crossed the line some 3.283 seconds ahead of Finch and Roderick. Connor Mosack finished fourth ahead of Gio Ruggiero who rounded out the top five.
The next event for the ASA Southern Super Series Presented by Sunoco Race Fuels will be Saturday, March 11th at 5 Flags Speedway. A number of accolades are on the line for this event. Not only is it the next ASA SSS race, but it’s also the first race of the ASA STARS National Tour and represents Blizzard Series race number one. The Sunshine State 200 features a $20,000 payday for the winner at the end of 200 green flag laps. Advanced tickets and more information are available here.
For more on the ASA Southern Super Series Presented by Sunoco Race Fuels, log onto www.SouthernSuperSeries.com. Find and follow the ASA SSS on Facebook and Twitter.
Story - Zach Hiser
Photo - Racing America