ARCA, ASALM, CRA SS, NASCAR Elite, GN & Mods, PASS, Pro Cup & More Represented
Once again, in honor of the recent NFL draft, where amateur football players are selected by pro football teams, the Speed51team conducted its own draft, Short Track style. The four Speed51.com contributors, along with a little help from just a couple of outside sources, have selected the top 25-guys whom we feel deserve a shot at either a NASCAR Busch or Craftsman Truck Series ride. The panel has chosen them in order of who they feel is among the most promising drivers that deserve at shot at the “big time.”
So without further adieu, here is the 2005 Speed51.com Short Track Draft.
the game. He won six races and beat a guy named Steve Carlson for the MWS championship (holds nearly ever record in series history). And what did he do to start 2005? He came right out and beat Carlson and the rest of the boys again, showing he hasn’t lost his form of 2004. And he invaded the Southeast Series recently and stomped on those guys too. This guy is very hungry for a chance at the big leagues. His only downfall... He ran a disappointing 4.6 40-yard dash at the combine, but you can’t measure the size of his heart.
With the number one pick in the 2005 Short Track Draft, Speed51.com selects NASCAR Southeast Series driver Charlie Bradberry. (51 Photo)
1. Charlie Bradberry (SES, SLM) – With the Speed51.com boys on the clock, the debate was on. And as time was running out, we made our selection. It wasn’t as obvious to us as Alex Smith was to the 49ers, but when the pressure was on, Bradberry was our panel’s man. The 22-year-old has what it takes to make it. He might be the most talented Short Track driver in America right now. And sure, he’s run some Truck races, which last year would have made him ineligible, but like Mike Williams of USC (who was not eligible last year), he became a top draft pick by going back to his roots (much like Mark Martin did years ago after a failed NASCAR Cup attempt). His credentials are awesome and he’s proven he can get it done in championship games by winning the 2003 NASCAR Southeast Series title and the 2003 Snowball Derby. He left a year too soon, but thankfully, unlike the NFL, he can come back and enter the professional world again. Bradberry is the obvious #1 choice in our panel’s book.
2. Justin Diercks (MWS, SES) – Unlike South Carolina’s Troy Williams in the NFL draft, to say this guy came out of nowhere in 2004 in the Midwest Series would be a lie since he was the series Rookie of the Year in 1998. He’s only 25 and last year he showed us all why he is one of the most dominant players in
3. Jason Hogan (SES) – Like Miami, Michigan, Ohio State and the Notre Dame of old, it looks like NASCAR is producing the talent right now, with the top-three drivers all coming from the NASCAR Elite Divisions. Heck, even the next few draft picks call some NASCAR Series their home. For Hogan, he’s got it all. He is as well-rounded as they come in the draft. He can wheel a racecar and he’s got the media savvy and the youth to back it all up. He’s only 22 and he’s already got some pretty impressive credentials. And like a lot of NFL players, his stock has risen sharply over the last couple of months. He had an impressive workout it has shown, collecting two wins, two poles and six top-five finishes in just six races in 2005 already. That is enough to make anyone sit up and notice.
Our third-pick in the draft? Jason Hogan, from the Southeast Series. (51 Photo)
4. Donny Lia (MODS) – 24-year-old Donny Lia perks the ears of the Draft community. He is like the Packers pick of Nick Collins from Bethune-Coookman. Like Bethune-Coookman College, the Mod College doesn’t normally have a lot of picks, but Lia might be one of the best Draft choices out there right now. The guy just loves racing. And he’s learning to play on both sides of the ball. He recently made his debut in a full-bodied stock car with the Hooters Pro Cup Series and was impressive, qualifying third and running in the top-10 all day long. And he is fast, evident from last year’s Bud Pole Award for earning the most poles in the NASCAR Modified Series. But he can win too and he likes to the big games as evident by his victories in North vs. South Shootout (Concord Motorsport Park), Race of Champions (Thompson Speedway) and the Richie Evans Memorial during “Florida Speedweeks.”
Donny Lia went to Speedweeks and won the Richie Evans Memorial race this year, which helped him as our fourth pick in the draft. (51 Photo)
5. JR Norris (SES) – Another NASCAR Southeast Series driver, JR Norris epitomizes the word FAST, but he’s tough as well, sort of like Texas Longhorns running back Cedric Benson. His team is the New England Patriots of the Southeast Series. While they haven’t won the titles the Pats have, they have the best group of people and equipment surrounding them. JR came from out of nowhere in 2004 and made everyone take notice. He won poles, a race and he nearly won the series title. The 25-year-old is now doing something else it takes to be recognized in the draft, and that is working with the Pros. He moved up to North Carolina and spends his time in the shop of the #15 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series shop throughout the week. He’s even hoped behind the wheel of that truck for a few test sessions.
8. Burney Lamar (SWS) – At the time that the 2005 draft was selected (as opposed to the time it is announced here at 51), 24-year-old Burney Lamar was “undrafted.” But some agent must have gotten to him and he was recently signed by none other than Kevin Harvick to be a development driver. That is some pretty good timing for the dirt racer turned asphalt racer. Lamar, the 2000 USAC Sprint Car Rookie of the Year, has adapted well to the asphalt as evident by him winning Rookie of the Year in the Southwest Series in 2001 and winning quite a few races along the way. He won part of the Toyota All Star Showdown in 2004 and in 2005 he has been on fire. He’s already won in two different series, both the West Series and the Southwest Series. It‘s only going to get better for this youngster.
9. Joey Logano (PRO CUP) – Young Joey Logano, all 14-years-old of him, is like the equivalent of a high school senior coming out in the NFL Draft, which of course, isn’t allowed these days. Some Ohio State running back tried to do it after his freshman year a couple of seasons ago and it didn’t work out for him. We think it will work out for Logano. At just age 14, he’s got more experience in more types of cars than some people twice his
6. Shane Huffman (PRO CUP) – He is the senior member of the 2005 Draft. While we don’t’ look at older drivers too much, sometimes their talent just sticks out like a sore thumb and 30-year-old Huffman fits that profile. This guy is good. Unlike Chris Wienke who was 30-plus and still drafted by the Carolina Panthers a few years back, Huffman seems to get passed over when looking at talent. But how can you ignore that he’s dominated the Pro Cup Series over the last few years. He took good equipment to the championship in 2003 and then on a shoestring budget won a bunch of races in 2004, just missing the title. This year he started out the year winning three of the first four races.
7. Clay Rogers (PRO CUP) – Huffman isn’t the only superstar in the Pro Cup Series. If you could pick just two drivers out of each series, 24-year-old Clay Rogers would be the other guy you choose from Pro Cup land. And like a couple of other guys in our draft, yes, he’s been in the upper ranks of NASCAR before. He drove in the Busch Series for Robbie Rieser and Matt Kenseth, but that seems like a lifetime ago. And other than sometimes still using his Busch driving suit, Rogers days in Busch are over, at least until someone picks him up again. In the meantime he’s focused on winning Pro Cup races and titles. Last year he won a bunch of races, but even more importantly, he won the title. And in 2005, he’s right back at it, leading the point standings.
Shane Huffman has won half of the races so far in the Pro Cup Southern Division, making him our sixth-pick in the draft. (51 Photo)
Burney Lamar has wins in two different types of cars in 2005, making him a top-10 pick. (Mike Keon Photo)
age, including running a Cup car at Atlanta at over 190mph in a test session earlier this year. And he is so talented that NASCAR Nextel Cup driver Mark Martin, who is one of Logano’s mentors, has publicly said that he’d be more comfortable racing Logano RIGHT NOW in Cup than some of the guys he currently races against. How good is Logano? He wants to go racing now, but no one will let him because of his age. He has to wait until 15 just to make his first Pro Cup start. And while Roush has announced him as one of their development drivers, there is no signed contract locking him in.
10. Josh Hamner (SLM) – The 10th pick in the NFL draft was USC’s Mike Williams to Detroit. Williams is an automatic go-to guy who can score big, despite limited experience. That is pretty much just like Josh Hamner. Hamner has adapted to Super Late Model racing very well after spending a few years in Pro Late Models around the Alabama area. Hamner has a pretty good teacher too in father Jeff. And he’s got a lot of power under the hood, with the family-owned Hamner Racing Engines powering his rides. But Hamner is still young (18) and he’s still got a little learning to do. He’s got 5 top-5 finishes in six events so far this year, including the track record at Birmingham Int’l Raceway. He’s only going to get better with more experience and he could be the next big thing in the Southeast will produce so we’d snatch him up early.
Teenagers Josh Hamner (left) and Joey Logano (right) occupied the final two spots in our top-10. (51 Photos)
CLICK HERE To View the Speed51.com Short Track Draft 11-25 Picks, Along With Honorable Mentions & Ineligible Drivers