Mike Rowe (Pro All Stars Series) – Not only is Rowe cleaning things up in the PASS South Super Late Model Series (where he’s won two races and never finished outside of the top-five), but he’s also now moving up in the PASS North, where he’s currently third in points.
Paul Sparrow (CRASHCars) – Sparrow has been the man to beat each and every week when the Lowe’s Motor Speedway CRASHCars come to town, either at the dirt track or the quarter-mile on the frontstretch. He’s dominating the CRASHCar point standings.
Nick Stroupe (Bandoleros) – He’s one of the hottest Bandolero drivers in the country right now. In just eight events at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway’s Summer Shootout, the 10-year-old won three times and picked up six top-five finishes. In fact, the entire Stroupe family is pretty strong right now. His brother Zach, 13, is second in the Aaron’s Pro Challenge Series national standings with just three races to go.
Alex Yontz (UARA) – Alex is whipping it up in the UARA Late Model Stock car series now with a series-leading three wins and a slew of top-five finishes. On top of that, he’s leading the point standings in one of the most competitive touring series in any part of the country.
SHORT TRACK POWER – a Speed51.com Exclusive
Super Late Models, Busch East, Pro Cup, Mods and More!
1. Kelly Bires (ASA LM) – Following in the footsteps of Stephen Leicht, who’s gaining tons of media attention and appears to be on the fast track to stardom in NASCAR, is a tall task. Kelly Bires has handled it well. It’s hard to deny Kelly as being first place in our voting. In the ASA Late Model Series, he’s cleaning up and taking names. He leading the Challenge Series point standings and dominating the Rookie of the Year points. He’s won five races already this year, beaten the likes of NASCAR Nextel Cup Champions Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth and is on pace to best Leicht’s seven wins of last year. Kelly was the only driver to receive three first-place votes, putting him up top.
2. Shane Huffman (Pro Cup South) – What is power in short track racing? It’s “getting the call.” That’s exactly what Shane Huffman got from JR Motorsports team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. just a week ago, telling him he was being promoted from Junior’s USAR Hooters Pro Cup team to his NASCAR Busch Series team. That sucks for Clay Rogers and the rest of the Pro Cup field, who won’t be able to race against one of the best short track driviers in the country anymore. However, its good for racing to see another short track standout “get the call.” And how did he celebrate the promotion? By winning his next race at Peach State Speedway.
3. James Civali (Mods) - If the caution light had blinked a few seconds sooner at New Hampshire in July, he would have won there. Then he goes and fights a classic battle with Mod legend Reggie Ruggiero over the final 50-laps at Stafford (CT), doesn’t flinch an inch and wins his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race. He’s also a rookie battling for the Tour title against a few guys you may have heard of named named Stefanik, Christopher and Hirschman. He’s shown some prowess this year in what a car that has not been up front all that often on the Tour in the past couple of years. Civali received one first-place vote.
Kelly BIres (left) has been a big part of the ASA Late Model Series this year, winning five total race. (Bob Milner photo)
4. Sean Caisse (NASCAR Busch East Series) – The surprising sophomore received a first-place vote, but it wasn’t enough to push him onto the Tower of Power podium. However, Sean doesn’t plan on staying fourth in the Power standings very long, just like he doesn’t plan on staying second in the NASCAR Busch East Series points standings long either, evident by his three wins in seven races. He’s also grabbed top-10 finishes in all but one of those starts and is backing up his Rookie of the Year title well. Now, he’s setting the standard by being the first to try out the new NASCAR Busch East Series spec engine.
5. Benny Gordon (Pro Cup North) – Just because the defending USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series Champion clinched the Northern Division championship what seems like four months ago doesn’t mean he’s letting up by any stretch of the imagination. He’s had a couple of bad finishes in the last couple of races, but that doesn’t erase the fact that he’s dominating the competition. He’s earned five wins and nine top-five finishes in 11 Northern Division races this year. In fact, take away the last two bad finishes and Gordon hasn’t finished off the podium in any Northern Division races this year.
6. Donny Schatz (WoO) – To say that Donny is having a career year is a rather large understatement. The WoO regular has been leading the World of Outlaw point
A pair of Northern guys, James Civali (top, #28) and Sean Caisse (botton, #44) sit in the top four. (51 photos)
standings since the beginning of March and has won countless number of heat races, dashes and A-features since then. However, the biggest feather in his cap, and the thing that might have pushed him into the top-six in our power rankings rather than just being an honorable mention, was the fact that he made mincemeat of the field during the 46th Annual Knoxville Nationals and the $140,000 top prize that goes with it.
7. Jeremie Whorff (Super Late Models) – The New England region has been producing some of the best Super Late Model racing all season, and the Oxford 250 is the grand-daddy of them all. Jeremie Whorff shocked some, but not all, by winning the 2006 edition of the prestigious $25,000-to-win event by beating out his own dad, and the likes of short track legends Mike Rowe and Cup drivers Kyle Bush and Denny Hamlin. Whorff says he’ll head south for a couple of shows to complete the season, so we’ll get to see how he stacks up against the epicenter of the Super Late Model scene.
8. Gary Lewis (NASCAR Northwest Series) – The former NASCAR Northwest Series champion is regaining his form this year in a big way. He started out the year strong by winning two of the first four races and finished second in the other two. He’s stayed in the points lead all year long and every week, he seems to pull away. Currently, he’s 100 points up on Brandon Riehl in the standings.
9. Charlie Bradberry (Super Late Models) – He’s been among the hottest drivers in the southeast Super Late Model scene all season-long. His latest triumph came at Mobile Speedway in Alabama. In total,
Bradberry now had six wins and 13 top-5 finishes in 2006. He’s got some of the biggest SLM shows in the country to conclude the season. We are just surprised nobody has given this kid a legit shot in a good Craftsman Truck Series or Busch Series ride.
10. Alan Johnson (D.I.R.T. Modifieds)– They like to call him “AJ Slideways” and since the heat of July sprung upon the Northeast, he’s been sliding into victory lane more often than not. How ‘bout this for some impressive numbers: nine wins, 16 top-5s, 17 top-10s in 18 races since July 1st. He’s leading the Advance Auto Parts Super D.I.R.T. trail, as well as the Empire D.I.R.T. TV Series and he tops the charts at two local tracks, Cayuga County and Fulton (both NY). His only blemishes are being second in points at Brewerton (NY) and second in the RoC Dirt Tour Northern points. This cat had one first-place vote, but it might have been more if the D.I.R.T. Modifieds received some better publicity. Check out dirtvision.com to watch some of the D.I.R.T. Modified races from this year.
Gary Lewis is taking is to the Northwest Series drivers this year.
Marc Davis (Limited Late Models) – Marc has quickly become one of NASCAR’s most recognizable and successful drivers in the Drive for Diversity program, winning several races and sitting third, just 14 points out of the top spot in the Limited Late Models at Hickory Motor Speedway
Dan Fredrickson (NASCAR Midwest Series) – Two wins in three races so far this year is nothing to sneeze about. He’s trying to win the final championship for the Midwest Series and he’s beating two tough guys, Steve Carlson and Tim Schendel.
Bobby Grigas (True Value Modifieds) – If you can beat Teddy Christopher in a high-paying Modified
Shootout, than you are A-O-K in our book. That’s exactly what Grigas did in an open-comp $5,000 to win show at Canaan Fair Speedway in July. It was his second victory in his rookie Modified season.
Scott Hantz (CRA Super Series) – Here’s another hot summer driver. In six events on the ultra-competitive CRA Super Series since July 1st, Scott Hantz has a victory and four top-5 finishes in six events. His only finish outside the top five… a sixth.
Matt Hawkins (Georgia Asphalt Series) – Since hiring Mike Garvey as a crew chief and driver coach, Hawkins has been on a tear in whatever he drives. He’s got two Georgia Asphalt Series wins and two top-five finishes in ASA Late Model Series competition.
Brett Hearn (D.I.R.T. Modifieds) – You can’t say enough about this veteran of the D.I.R.T. Modified wars. And add to the fact that he just picked up his 700th victory of his career, there’s no debating Brett Hearn’s got some muscle.
Marc Davis is racing for Joe Gibbs Racing at Hickory Motor Speedway this year.
Drew Herring (NASCAR Late Model Stock) – This guy has been so good, South Boston Speedway put up a $1,500 bounty on him. If anyone could beat him, they would pick up the extra cash. Phillip Morris did pick up the money, but only after Herring rolled off five-straight at the toughest weekly Late Model Stock track in the country.
J.R. Norris (NASCAR Southeast Series) – Norris is right on the doorstep of something he’s been trying to earn for quite some time, the NASCAR Southeast Series Championship. Finally, maybe, winning at Nashville’s Music City Motorplex got him over the hump.
Drew Herring is so good SoBo has put a bounty on him for the next couple of race.