Short Track Power - A Speed51.com Exclulsive
Logano & Lia Are On Top Again.. But Joined By A National Champion
1. Donny Lia (WMT) - Six victories on the Whelen Modified Tour? Winner at Martinsville. Winner at NHIS? A NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series ride with Bill Davis. A title clinched with one race still to go. Who wouldn't call that power? Donny destroyed the competition on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour this year and have the Mystic Missile team their first championships. For Lia, teaming up with car-owner Bob Garbarino was a match made in heaven. Prior to signing on to drive the Mystic Missle, Lia had a reputation as a driver with an uncontrolled aggression. Garbarino took that aggression and focused it on consistency and winning. Now that the title is clinched with one race left to run, watch out for him to take no prisoners at Thompson’s season-ending World Series. Rating: 2.0
2. Joey Logano (BES) - What can you say about this kid that hasn’t already been said? Not much. Five wins in a 13 race season - talk about a win ratio. He wins in Busch East. He wins in Winston West (or just called West now). He could probably have even won in a Modified had he been given more of a chance. Logano doesn't accept anything but a win, and isn't afraid to say so. He wasn't point racing -- not ever. He was racing for the checkers and that's it. The championship was just the icing on the cake. We should enjoy what he's been doing over the last couple of seasons in BES and Pro Cup because this time next year he will only be a short-track memory as he goes Busch Racing. Rating: 2.9
3. Steve Carlson (NASCAR Weekly) – Steve Carlson is a name many people know. Most know him as the all-time wins leader in the NASCAR Midwest Series (former RE/MAX Challenge Series) and a nine-time Midwest Series Champion. Nine times. But now, Carlson is the 2007 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champion. And its pretty cool to see an “old school” guy win the title. Carlson come from the school of racers that were short trackers for life and that just love to race. Media, public relations and sponsor appearances aren’t that important to him. Just winning. And now, he’s a National Champion. How big is that? Carlson called it bigger than any of those nine Midwest Series championships. Rating: 7.3
4. Mike Rowe (PASS North) – He’s recently won the biggest PASS North race of the year, a 300-lapper at Beech Ridge. He’s also got the 200 at Star, the 250 at Antignosh and the 250 at Scotia. In all, Rowe has five victories this season up North. And he’s locked in a fierce points battle for the PASS North Championship, where he trails by just 12 points. To who? To his son, Ben. He also notched a top five finish in the Milk Bowl ACT Late Model race. If anyone is on a roll, it’s the elder Rowe. Rating: 7.8
5. Corey Williams (PASS South) - In three-straight PASS South races (and one ASA Late Model Southern Division show), he ran through the competition by winning each time and dominating some times. This guy is having the kind of season every driver dreams about. Those wins have this kid on a lot of teams' "must-watch" list, but hopefully all the success and attention doesn't change or affect the normally mild-
mannered kid from Maine; getting DQ'ed in tech, spinning a couple cars and dangerously driving down pit road in Hickory when things didn't go his way didn't help his cause. But you can't argue with success. Rating: 7.9
6. Travis Dassow (ASA LM) - Sure one can say that it's just a third-straight WalTom Championship and that the kid just bought a championship-proven team, but admittedly underfunded compared to those WalTom days, Dassow showed he could be the next Stephen Leicht or Kelly Bires to move up one day. The only thing that goes against Dassow this year was that the ASALM Challenge Series wasn't as competitive as it should/could have been due to some lower car counts than normal. But that takes nothing away from what this Wisconsin kid did with a lot less than his predecessors. He did win the title, and he won it on talent behind the wheel (himself) and behind the wrenches (Howie Lettow) rather than with money in his pockets. Rating: 8.0
Just like in our last Tower of Power, the top two spots were held by Donny Lia (top) and Joey Logano (middle, left). But NASCAR Weekly Champion Steve Carlson was right there (bottom).
7. Woody Pitkat (Mods) - Wherever Woody goes, he's a contender...and he goes plenty of places. He's made a whopping 76 starts already this year from weekly short tracks to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. He's finished in the top five 44 times with 11 victories. All those starts and wins almost earned him the 2007 NASCAR Weekly Racing Series National Championship… but he had to settle for second. But that isn’t stopping Woody. He’s still got a full slate of Modified racing to go. He's improving and contending on the WMT and Southern Modified Tour, too. Rating: 8.2
8. Patrick Laperle (ACT) – We’ve talked about West Coast bias, where drivers on the left coast are forgotten easily, but what about Canadian bias? In the past few weeks, Laperle has won two ACT Late Model races back-to-back, including the prestigious Milk Bowl – where he dominated the race. He leads the tour in victories for 2007 despite only running a limited schedule and he clinched the ACT Quebec Series championship despite missing the season’s first race because he was stuck in a hospital fighting a major illness. Rating: 8.4
Woody Pitkat won a lot of races in his SK Modified and almost won the NASCAR Weekly Championship.
9. Gary St. Amant (Pro Cup) – Steve Carlson isn’t the only elder-statesman on this list. St. Amant is also a multi-time champion (old ASA National Tour) and is looking to add the USAR Hooters Pro Cup to that list. St. Amant won the Northern Division championship and is right in position to win the overall championship in the five-race playoff series. And who is he battling for the top spot? Fellow elder Bobby Gill. Its nice to see St. Amant succeeding in a series that is known so much for its young stars. Rating: 9.0
10 (tie). Bobby Gill (Pro Cup) – Gill is no stranger to the Tower of Power. He’s been here many times before. But it's been a while. And Gill knows when to turn it on. He didn’t do to much during the Pro Cup regular season, but since the Championship Series started, Gill has been right there. He won the first race to put himself in position for the Championship points lead. Then, another solid finish in the second race put in into the top spot. And like Carlson, Gill doesn’t care about much more in the racing biz then racing and winning. And that is what make him who he is. Rating: 9.2
10 (tie). Jan Leaty (RoC Mods) – Long-time fans of the NASCAR Modified Tour might ask “Is Jan Leaty still racing?”. The answer is, “Yes, and he’s still winning.” A victory in the recent Oswego Race of Champions against a field that includes the best RoC stars, Eric Beers, Chuck Hossfeld and a pair of quick Hirschmans shows that he still has it. He is just running so well to close out the season. Rating: 9.2
Russell Fleeman (GAS) - Already the GAS champion, Russell won fives races with 13 top tens and nine top two finishes.
Dan Fredrickson (ASA MW) - Fredrickson's late-season run in the ASA Midwest Series has put him in a position to win the title.
Tim Fuller (DIRT Mods & WoO Dirt Late Models) – Competing in these two series in a single season is tough enough, but doing it successful is nearly unheard of. Fuller is making everyone listen this year.
Chris Gabehart (CRA) - Gabehart is now the CRA Champion after winning the Circle Track Nationals in dominating fashion. And he's got one of his best tracks next... Winchester Speedway.
Kyle Hall (LMSC) - Kyle ended the Old Dominion Speedway regular season with two straight wins, second in track points and holds the record for the youngest driver to win a LMSC race at the track.
Russell Fleeman is'already the GAS Champion.
Nathan Haseleu (ASA MW & WCS) – Just a plain ol’ good racecar driver. He’s been tearing up the upper Midwest this year with occasional wins and unbelievable consistency.
Bret Hearn (DirtCar) – 2nd in pts in the Advance Auto Parts Super DirtCar Series, but he’s been on a tear recently. He’s won everywhere from the Mid-Atlantic to Canada in a Dirt Modified.
Heath Hindman (PASS South) - Sure he's only won one race, but the way the kid's been racing at the front of the field in PASS South, the Blizzard Series and even in CRA like he did in Indy last month, the wins could keep piling up for this quiet kid.
Chuck Hossfeld (Mods) - Won the Lancaster RoC Mod portion of the US Open this past weekend, slated to drive for Donny Lia in the #18 at the World Series at Thompson.
Randy Humphries (ISCARS) - Solid car owner for Brandon Ward in Pro Cup and finally won his first career Dash race after 10 years of trying
Paul Kelly (PLM) - He called himself a "GAS-Whacker" when he won the most recent GAS race at Peachstate, then followed it up with a big Pro Late Model win at Lanier recently.
Matt Kenseth (SLM) - Kenseth has won a couple of big Super Late Model races he's been invted to this year... showing he's still a short tracker at heart.
Ryan Lawler (PASS South) - Ryan was on his wan to another PASS South win at Hickory before mechanical problems stopped him... it was all that could have that night.
Michael McDowell (ARCA) - Finally, someone else is challenging Frank Kimmell for the ARCA title.
Dean McIntyre (Pro Challenge) - Started off the Pro Challenge Playoff with a victory and has his sights set on the Aaron's National Title.
Dave McKnight (ISMA) - He recovered from devastating crash at Oxford in an ISMA Super race to win ISMA race at Delaware this past weekend.
Charlie Menard (ASA LM) - Won his second race of the year at a place that has eluded him for a while... Five Flags Speedway.
LW Miller (SMT) - He maintained the points lead heading into final race of the season, and has been the man at Caraway winning, almost all races at the track this year.
Bobby Gill (left) and Gary St. Amant (right) led the charge for the Pro Cuppers.
HONORABLE MENTIONS (received votes from our panel, but not enough to top the list)
Jimmy Blewett (WMT) - Coming back from losing your brother to still race is power.
Matt DiBendetto (UARA) - Rookie is excelling in the UARA Stars Series after Limited Late Models at HIckory.
Justin Drawdy (SLM) - He's on the verge of winning the Blizzard Series championship next week and he's shown prowess at tracks elsewhere.
Tim Russell (SLM) - Each week, he’s in the top five… 16 top fives in 24 starts
Donny Schatz (WoO) - Easily on his way to the World of Outlaws Championship after Knoxville Nationals win.
Jarod Seifert (IMCA) - IMCA Modified National champion, beat thousands of competitors to earn crown.
Peyton Sellers (BES) - Okay, so he didn't make it to victory lane this year, but wow, this kid can drive! he raced the entire season with one car and one engine, and did pretty decent with it too
Tim Russell has been to Victory Lane several times this season.
Dennis Setzer (LMSC) - Another "big timer" who has showed that he still loves the short tracks win his win in the Late Model Stock classic Baileys 300 at Martinsville.
John Stancill (Legends) - He won the National points for Semi-Pro and had 11 wins in a row from August through September.
John Van Doorn (CRA) - He was a kid to watch before teaming with Tim Steele, but now he's a bona fide star on the rise in SLM's and Outlaw SLM's too.