Article and photot by Jacob Hord, @HordRaceWatcher

Making the decision to hit the road is a nerve-wracking, yet potentially very rewarding experience as a sprint car driver. There could be even more added pressure when you are back at your home track with the series you follow. This was the exact scenario Nate Dussel was in Saturday night, as the FAST Series made its way to Fremont Speedway for the first time this season. Thirty other FAST cars would also be gunning for the win and $3,000 payday.

Coming to the green flag, it was youngsters Zeth Sabo and Darin Naida who paced the field. Sabo jumped out to the lead early as sixth starting Jordan Ryan made his way into second. Ryan was all over Sabo for the lead on just the second lap, they were side-by-side at the line. On lap three, Ryan went low in turns three and four and took the lead from Sabo. That didn’t last long, though, as Sabo was able to reclaim the lead on the top of turns one and two. 

Sabo started building his lead by lap six, as tenth starting Nate Dussel had made his way to fourth. Sabo enjoyed a 1.305 second lead by lap eight, as Ryan, Lee Jacobs, Dussel, and DJ Foos rounded out the top five. Two laps later, things would get interesting for Sabo as he entered into lapped traffic. Even though he was navigating through traffic, the leader Sabo was still able to maintain around a 1.5 second gap to Ryan. This gap increased around lap 13 as Lee Jacobs went to work on Ryan for the second spot.

Jacobs and Ryan spent some time side-by-side on lap 14, which built Sabo’s lead to 1.845 seconds and allowed Dussel to close in on the pair. Eventually, Jacobs would get second all to himself, for a little bit. Dussel made quick work of Ryan and boosted himself into the third position on lap 17. It didn’t take long for Dussel to be all over Jacobs for second, as the top three negotiated through heavy traffic.

“I felt good on the bottom of the race track for a segment of the race, maybe 10-15 laps where I was picking guys off. Then at the end, I moved to the top. The track got really clean and grippy,” said Dussel.

Sabo’s lead had been cut down to 1.239 seconds on lap 21, but a yellow flag would negate all of Sabo’s lead, but it would put him back in clean air with nine laps remaining. 

“I really liked to see that caution; we were right there with first and second. It was getting to a point where I wasn’t gaining much, and lapped traffic was all in one lane. It was hard to catch first and second or do anything with them,” said Dussel.

“We knew we had the car to go out there and win,” said Sabo. “We definitely didn’t need that caution near the end. I could feel the car start to slip away about two laps before the caution. I knew when that caution came out that we had to do what we had to do.”

On the restart, Dussel was able to get by Jacobs for second, and put his sights on Sabo. Sabo and Dussel were side-by-side for the lead on lap 22 and on lap 23, Dussel got under Sabo in turns three and four. Sabo then slid Dussel right back in turns one and two, and retook the lead momentarily, but Dussel fought back down the backstretch to regain the lead. Sabo again slid Dussel in turns three and four to lead, but Dussel countered down the front stretch and would solidify his lead down the backstretch on lap 25. 

“I knew I could keep my car a lot straighter than Zeth could, he kind of blowing the wheels off on exit. I just went where he wasn’t. He kept throwing bombs, and I had to keep clearing him until I was able to shut the door on the bottom,” Dussel said.

“Honestly, I felt like I had the best car, so I was just biding my time. I let Zeth slide around and pick where to go, and he did a nice job of keeping me back. Lee was the one I was worried about, because I wanted to get clear of him, because he can be tough to pass. Once I got by Lee, I felt like eight laps to chew on Zeth was going to be enough, and it was. Hats off to him, Zeth’s not particularly a slick track driver, and obviously they’ve made some leaps in their setups,” continued Dussel. 

“We didn’t have enough to complete the slidejobs that we were throwing on him. I thought we did, but we didn’t. He was cooking for sure,” said Sabo. 

Sabo was able to stay close, and on lap 27, threw a big slider at Dussel in turns three and four, but Dussel was able to fend off Sabo and take the win by just over a second over Sabo, Jacobs, Foos, and Craig Mintz. 

“I’ve got a few wins here, but not many from the fifth row, I can tell you that,” said Dussel. “It was a lot of fun. My guys gave me a fantastic race car, and that’s what it comes down to on a slick race track. If your car sucks, there’s no driver in the world that can make it go forward. We did this FAST thing to get out of norm, try and reevaluate what we do at race tracks for setups, and I can tell you we’ve made leaps and bounds because of it. We’re being a little more open-minded with our setups and trying not to go back to what we normally do. I feel really good about the direction we’re going in.”

“This one was really special because we lost Chuck Fausey, who was a huge part of our team with Fausey Farms– Jason’s dad. It was his car, his motor, so that’s pretty special,” concluded Dussel. 

The BOSS Series was also in action Saturday night, and they also put on a whale of a show. Carmen Perigo and Brian Ruhlman took the field to the green flag, and Perigo and Ruhlman would spend the first few laps side-by-side, with Ruhlman holding a very slight edge. Ruhlman eventually took control of the race, but Perigo didn’t let Ruhlman get too far ahead. 

Ruhlman had about a half-second lead over Perigo, and his brother Chad Ruhlman with seven laps in the books. Brian Ruhlman started to slip away and Matt Westfall started stalking Perigo and C. Ruhlman in fourth. Brian Ruhlman built his lead to 1.7 seconds as the rest of the top ten could be covered with a blanket. Westfall made a masterful move and went fourth to second with about ten laps left. Westfall had to use those ten laps to erase about a two second lead to B. Ruhlman, but C. Ruhlman was doing everything he could to get the second spot back.

Westfall and C. Ruhlman would spend the next handful of laps side-by-side, and they were still slowly closing the gap to B. Ruhlman, who was looking for his first BOSS and Fremont Speedway win. With three laps remaining, and about a one second gap, Westfall took control fo the second position, but it was too little, too late, and Brian Ruhlman was able to snag the win in a nonstop race. Chad Ruhlman, Jesse Vermillion and Cody White rounded out the top five.