Close Fan Voting Decides Several Key Battles, Including DoY
Ted Christopher was voted as the Short Track Driver of the Year, but just by a couple of votes.
A diverse bunch of racers took home honors for their accomplishments during the 2004 season. A total of four drivers won multiple awards and all have different stories.
Steve Wallace is the son of a NASCAR Cup champion who is making his own racing history while still a teenager. Ted Christopher is a hardcore New England racer who will hop into anything with wheels to go racing. Jason Hogan is a hotshoe in the NASCAR Southeast Series who has been making his name and talents known to the entire racing world in a short period of time. Freddie Query is a long time veteran who pretty much sticks to one track and who likes to keep invaders from visiting Victory Lane.
Wallace picked up three “51s,” more than any other single driver. Two of the awards came for his shocking victory in the 2004 Snowball Derby (Surprise Moment and Best Moment Awards). Wallace was also voted as the Short Track Rookie of the Year after winning the UARA rookie title in 2004, beating out the likes of JR Norris (SES) and Bobby Stremme (ASA Late Models).
Christopher, who won in NASCAR Modifieds, SK Modifieds and PASS Pro Stocks (Super Late Models) during the 2004 season, edged out World of Outlaws legend Steve Kinser, who won his 19th WoO title in 2004, by only three votes to earn Short Track Driver of the Year honors. The three-vote margin was the closest of all the battles and was the closest battle in the history of the “51s.”
Hogan kept Wallace from picking up his fourth “51” by winning the Most Promising Driver by just seven votes. Modified driver Donny Lia made it a close three-way battle, just 10 votes behind Hogan. Hogan also won the Best Appearing Short Track Car over Norris and Tim Sauter's #9 ASA ride.
If you didn’t vote for this year’s “51s”, the short track racing awards presented by Speed51.com, and you aren’t happy about the results, you have nobody to blame but yourself.
The winners were decided entirely by fan balloting and some of the categories proved that one votes could have made a difference as several categories were decided by margins in the single digits.
This accident earned Query the "Wildest Wreck of the Year" Award.
Query, the 2004 Big-10 Super Late Model Series Champion won two awards, including one for the Best On-Track Feud (Query vs. The Entire Big-10 Series Field) following 15 out of 20 victories in the series over the past two seasons. He also won the Wildest Wreck Award, following his flip at Concord Motorsport Park (NC) last year where he got into the catchfence and nearly left the facility.
Irwindale Speedway in Irwindale, CA won the Best Short Track honor by just nine votes over Wisconsin's Slinger Super Speedway.
However, some of the battles weren't as close as others, particularly in the Worst Story of the Year award. In a landslide, the closing down of the ASA National Tour due to financial problems received over 650-plus more votes than any other nominee in that category and had more total votes than any nominee on the entire "51s" ballot. Over 2,000 ballots were cast during the voting process.
There were a couple of big surprises in the balloting, led by that of NASCAR star Tony Stewart being named Short Track Person of the Year. Stewart has never gotten far away from his Short Track roots despite his fame and stepped up to purchase the legendary Eldora Speedway (OH) near the end of 2004.
The North-South Shootout Modified race was also a surprise winner in the Best Race Of The Year category in yet another close campaign, beating out the All American 400 by just 17 total votes.
Here are all of 2004 winners for the “51s:”
Short Track Driver of the Year - Ted Christopher – 21 wins in 97 races, including victories in NASCAR Featherlite Mods, PASS Super Late Models, SMART Mods and SK Mods
Short Track Rookie of the Year - Steve Wallace – UARA Rookie of the Year, finished with three wins and three poles in UARA. Won 2004 Snowball Derby
Short Track Bad Boy - Scott Bloomquist (Dirt Late Models)
Short Track Most Improved - Donny Lia – 1 win, 4 poles, 9 top-10s in 18 NASCAR Featherlite Mod races in 2004. Winner in his only RoC Modified start of the season. Won North-South Shootout in Concord, NC
Comeback Driver of the Year - Gary St. Amant – Following the worst season of his ASA career, St.
Amant started anew and won the ProCup Northern Division Rookie of the Year and finished eighth in the overall standings.
Best Short Track Series of 2004 - NASCAR Modified Series
Best Moment – Steve Wallace Wins Derby – Steve Wallace shocked the short track world by dominating the 37th annual Snowball Derby.
Steve Wallace cleaned up in this year's "51s."
Jason Hogan's #92 was voted as the best looking car in the short track world.
Best Appearing Short Track Car - Jason Hogan's #92 SES
Best Story - Return of the All American 400 – Behind the leadership of the SSS and SAS, the annual fall Super Late Model event returned for the first time in several years with more than 65 cars showing up.
Worst Story - ASA Closes Shop – ASA's financial woes became well known with races being canceled, competitors not being paid, no points fund and eventually all of the employees being laid off.
Short Track Person of the Year (non-driver) - Tony Stewart – The NASCAR Nextel Cup regular not only continued to support short track racing by racing all across the country during the year, but he stepped up to the plate and bought the famed Eldora Speedway (OH) and hired Larry Kemp as General Manager
Best Promoter - C&C Racing Promotions – The group once again successfully put on one of the best races of the year, the North-South Shootout for Modifieds at Concord Motorsport Park.
Best Racetrack - Irwindale Speedway (Irwindale, CA)
Best On Track Feud - Freddie Query/Entire Big-10 Field – Freddie Query owns Concord. Over the last two years, he's won 15 of 20 Big-10 Series (Super Late Models) races and has left everyone else scratching their head.
51 Photo of the Year – Norm Marx, “Wild Ride”
Best Race - North-South Shootout – Featherlite Mod regular Donny Lia dropped from third to fifth, then it looked like he was shot out of a cannon in a spirited battle with John Blewett. Lia eventually captured the win.
Worst Race - Toyota NASCAR All Star Showdown, Grand National Division – BNS driver Bryon Chew said it best, “This race was a disgrace really. We were supposed to be the All Stars of the touring series’ and look at all the torn up racecars.”
Wildest Wreck - Freddie Query (Big-10)– In one of
the few Big-10 races Freddie Query didn't win in 2004, he nearly left the Concord Motorsport Park confines when jumped wheels of another car and tore down most of the backstretch fencing while doing a series in mid-air spins.
Best Finish - Christopher Brothers (MODS) – It was a Christopher one-two finished at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway as the two twins Ted and Mike battled and bumped each other to the finish line.
Most Promising Driver - Jason Hogan – 22 years old, two time Southeast Series winner in 2004
Best Personality - Butch Miller (ASA)
Crankiest Personality - Junior Hanley (CRA)
This photo by Norm Marx from a PASS event last year was easily voted as the 51 Photo of the Year.
Most Inspiring Moment - Five Flags Speedway Overcomes Hurricane Ivan To Run Derby – If you've seen the destruction that happened to the track and the whole Pensacola, FL area, you'd see how truly great of a feat this was.
Quote of The Year - Tim Sauter - being vulgarly candid about his take on the problems of the ASA National Tour.
Surprise Moment Of The Year - Steve
Wallace wins Derby – Nothing else to say. Steve Wallace shocked the short track world by dominating the 37th Annual Snowball Derby.
The “51s” will return at the end of the 2005 season.
51 Sports, publisher of Speed51.com, is continually signing up clients for its Sports Services and Web Design work for 2005. 51 offers everything from single-time press releases to full campaigns, hero cards, website development and much more. If you are interested in finding out more, please contact us at www.speed51.com or through Jeremy Troiano at (704) 726-6849.