The Short Track Report: 4 high-octane questions for Stephen Nasse

Stephen Nasse is one of the stars of the CARS Late Model Series, the premier short-track racing series in America. Not only is he one of the most talented drivers out there, but he is always going to say what's on his mind and that makes for some of the best interviews. He was nice enough to talk to me about his racing plans for the rest of 2020, give a recap of his run in the Winchester 400, and a lot more.

SportsMap: So first and foremost, what an excellent drive you had in Sunday's Winchester 400, coming back from a penalty and then some mechanical issues as well. While it may not read as win on the stat sheet, it's got to feel good to get such a good result after all you went through.

Stephen Nasse: Yeah, you know it's definitely tough to swallow. I was pretty upset in the time being with the issues we were having. I felt like they were issues that could have been avoided by me and my guys but at the end of the day, my guys worked harder than anyone else. I feel in that pit area, they want to win just as bad as I do, if not more. So you can't be too mad at them. But at the end of the day, it was good to come back and have the car in one piece, so that's all you can really ask for.

SM: The penalty you guys got was kind of controversial as you were cleaning off some of the leaves on your grill. Can you kind of expand on that a bit and talk about what happened there?

SN: Yeah, I don't understand their thought process on some things. Winchester is notorious for having leaves on the back straight away. And this year it was much worse and it didn't take a very smart person to realize that they should have blown off or drove over before the race because those racecars should not be cleaning off that racetrack. I mean everyone who comes here spends way too much money to have to come here and deal with that. My water temp was pegged out and I wasn't going to spend the money just to keep my spot, but it was unfortunate.

SM: Talk a little bit about how you got your start in racing.

SN: Well growing up, my grandfather was big into racing, and they finally had a boy after having two girls. So when they finally had a boy, it was time to go racing! So they bought me a dirt bike, and I was falling off every 25 feet, so they decided it was time to go to four wheels. So after that we got a go-kart, and we moved up to Pro Late Model cars and on to Supers and it went on from there. But it's always been something I wanted to do and I love doing it.

SM: For some of the newer viewers of Late Model Racing like myself, can you kind of explain the differences between each class like the Super Late Models and the Pro Late Models?

SN: Well when you are looking at it visually, you can't really tell a difference but it mainly comes down to speed. In the Pro Mods, you have a Crate Motor which makes about 500 horse power and it's more of a level playing field. And when you look at the Supers, it's making about 650 horsepower and there is a lot more to control.

You can hear the entire interview on Audioboom below.

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Houston loses first game to Oakland

A's end losing streak against Astros with late homers

Lance McCullers Jr. went five innings of one-run ball Friday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After maintaining their stronghold against the A's in Thursday's home opener, the Astros had the chance to lock up the three-game series victory against Oakland with a win on Friday night. On the mound, Lance McCullers Jr. hoped to improve upon his first start against this same team, a five-inning one-run outing.

Instead, he would have the same outcome, once again lasting five innings while allowing one run, before a big tie-breaking home run late in the game would push Oakland out of their losing skid against the Astros.

Final Score: A's 6, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-2, tied for first in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yusmeiro Petit (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (1-1)

McCullers Jr. makes it through five

McCullers Jr. looked sharp through the first three innings, allowing just two baserunners, one on a second-inning single, then a walk in the third. Oakland did better against him the second time through their order in the fourth, with Jed Lowrie leading the inning off with a solo home run to put Oakland in front 1-0.

They went on to load the bases with one out on an error and two walks, but McCullers would strand them all. He returned for the fifth, a much cleaner inning where a caught stealing by Martin Maldonado would help him face just three batters. His final line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 88 P.

Oakland gets homer-happy to even the series

McCullers Jr. would leave the game without being eligible for the winning or losing decision, as an RBI-groundout by Kyle Tucker in the fourth would have it tied 1-1. Bryan Abreu was the first out of Houston's bullpen, and he would attempt to eat up multiple innings. He had perfect innings in the sixth and seventh, retiring six A's in order to maintain the stalemate.

Abreu remained in the game in the top of the eighth, allowing a single before getting a strikeout, ending his run as Dusty Baker would bring in left-handed Blake Taylor. Taylor would give up a single against his first batter, then a loud go-ahead three-run home run to Matt Olson to push the A's back in front 4-1. They'd add two more insurance runs off of Joe Smith in the top of the ninth, getting a two-run home run by Mark Canha to extend the lead to 6-1.

Oakland's bullpen would hold on to the newly created lead, allowing just one run on a sac fly by Jose Altuve in the bottom of the ninth, finally ending their losing streak against Houston and setting up the rubber game on Saturday to be for the series victory.

Up Next: This series's finale will be a Saturday afternoon start, with first pitch scheduled for 3:05 PM. For the Astros, Jose Urquidy (0-0, 4.15 ERA) will look to get a win on the board, while Oakland will hand the ball to Frankie Montas (0-1, 23.63 ERA).

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