Short Track Power - A Speed51.com Exclulsive
The Toughest-to-Beat Drivers in Short Track Racing So Far in 2007
1. Mother Nature (All kinds of racing) - She won the ASA Late Model event at Toledo. She won the CRA Super Series event at Anderson. She won the NASCAR Mod Tour races at Caraway and Thompson. She won the True Value Mod opener at Monadnock. She won the PASS North opener at Beech Ridge. And, when she’s not winning, she is putting up quite a fight, just like she did at Hickory when the PASS South cars hit the track earlier this month in freezing cold temps and when she tried to take out Bobby Gill at South Boston in the Pro Cup race. Mother Nature has been kicking some serious racing tail this year so far, which puts her number one in our tower of power. Power Score: 1.0
2. Matt Hawkins (Pro Cup) – Winning the Snowflake 100 last year made him a name, but winning in his first-career Pro Cup start made him a star. In fact, just to qualify in your first time that you enter a Pro Cup race is an accomplishment. To win is unreal. That’s what Hawkins did though. He’s also copped a Pro Late Model victory this spring as well. Hawkins has talent and the right help (Rich Lushes, Mike Garvey) to help him get there. And with three first-place votes, our panel sees that. This kid is blossoming. Power Score: 3
3. Russell Fleeman (GAS) – You can’t argue with his track record so far this year in the Georgia Asphalt Series. He’s already won two GAS races and could’ve easily won the rest. Then, he went out there and came about 10 laps short of competing for win in Nashville CRA race with his Super Late Model, which is a car he only runs on a part-time basis. His hot streak might have cooled off a little bit in GAS, opening the door for a couple of other drivers to savor the taste victory, but he’s still the front runner for the GAS title and the $20,000 that goes with it. That is looking like a might nice payday for the driver who used to race in a two-piece firesuit with a pair of tennis shoes. But now, he’s got a new suit, a new attitude and a car not many people can beat.
Power Score: 3.6
4. Andy Seuss (Mods) – This kid is as good as anyone, but lacks the funds to show it off. He showed he could win though, catching victory as a Northern invader at the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour’s Nashville stop. That was powerful enough. His team’s will to race is even more powerful. When a scheduled practice day at Monadnock Speedway was rained out, the team towed from New Hampshire to Greenville-Pickens Speedway (SC) at the last minute. Seuss qualified 16th, but powerfully worked his way through the pack. Then, when the Monadnock True Value race was rained out, the team towed south to Caraway Speedway, just to get rained out again. They love to race and it shows this year. Power Score: 8
5. Tim Russell (SLM) – Sure, the Florida scene might not be the most competitive and the most powerful, but there is still something to be said for winning. And Tim Russell is running well, and winning. He has competed in 14 events so far this season, claimed two wins and posted 13 top-10 finishes. He would have been 14 for 14 in top-fives had a late-race accident not knocked him out of his top-five in the Daytona ARCA race. Add to that the fact that he is leading the Sunbelt Super Late Model point standings. This guy might be racing more than anyone so far in the United States and his record is showing his good of a driver he really is… in all types of racecars.
Power Score: 8.1
Cars under cover have been a familiar sight at tracks all across the Eastern Seaboard this spring, making Mother Nature the the toughest competition out there so far. (51 Photos)
When the cars have gone on track without weather interference, Matt Hawkins has been flexing the most muscle in Pro Cup and Late Model action.
5 (tie). Kyle Mitchell (Pro Challenge) – In the world of Scale Car racing, this kid is the man to beat anywhere right now. In the ultra-competitive and growing Aaron’s Pro Challenge Series, Mitchell is in a league of his own. He’s already got three wins in his Pro Challenge National Championship bid. And he did that by beating good competition during Winternationals in Orlando and at a double-points race at Hickory that attracted some of the best from all regions in Pro Challenge. He could’ve won a fourth if not for being DQ’ed for a weight issue in the first race at Orlando in February Power Score: 8.1
7. Matt DiBenedetto (UARA) – Who is this 15 year old racer? Outside of Hickory Motor Speedway, not many people knew the answer to that question before lately. DiBenedetto was the 2006 Limited Late Model Champion at the historic North Carolina track. Then, he went out and finished in the top-four at Hickory in the UARA opener, and claimed his first victory two weeks later at Concord. Now, as a rookie, he is leading the points and making people stand up and notice. Our panel noticed and one poller actually gave him a first-place vote. Power Score: 8.3
Kyle Mitchell got a visit from the Easter Bunny in Hickory's Pro Challenge victory lane.
7 (tie). Colt James (ASA LM) – This kid was good in San Antonio and we believe he’s gonna make his mark this year. After two ASA Challenge Series races, he currently leads the point standings on the strength of his dominating win in the opener at San Antonio Speedway. He dominated again at Nashville before problems forced him to the rear of the field. He’s tried hard to show the Short Track world that he’s a power coming from the Longhorn State, and this might just be his year. We’ll have to wait and see how the rest of the season plays out, but right now, he’s looking awful strong. Power Score: 8.3
7 (tie). Jimmy Blewett (Mods) – It’s been a while since Florida Speedweeks, but he was just so good down there that he still makes our list. Had these power rankings come out sooner, he would probably be number one. The “Badboy” Blewett dominated the SK Modifieds at Speedweeks at New Smyrna Speedway, then ended the week dominating the Tour-Type Modified Division as well, capping it off with a win in the Richie Evans Memorial 100 for the second-straight year. He came close to winning the SK Modified Nationals at Waterford earlier this month too, but parked his car in protest after being slapped with a rough-driving penalty that he may or may not have actually deserved. Now, with the Modified Tour season just around the corner, he could be a bigger threat then some people think.
Power Score: 8.3
10. Jeff Scofield (SLM) – Much like Blewett above, had the power rankings come out sooner, Scofield might have been more of a threat to be higher in the standings. He won the Super Late Model title during Speedweeks at New Smyrna Speedway to go along with all of the races that he won. Now, Scofield is traveling more and doing more racing. And even though he hasn’t won in the Sunbelt Series yet this season, he’s still a threat to do it every time out. Watch out for Scofield as the season continues on. Power Score: 8.6
Jimmy Blewett showed some maturity in Speedweeks, and if he can keep that up he'll have a huge year in the Mod ranks.
Joey Logano (NASCAR Grand National) – With his dominating performance in the NASCAR West opener in Phoenix (a win in his first-ever Grand National Division start), this 16-year-old would undoubtedly be among the top-10, but our power polls were conducted a few days before his win.
James Buescher (Pro Cup, ARCA) - Picked up right where he left off after claiming the ASA Late Model Championship in 2006 by claiming a ARCA RE/MAX Series victory and having solid Pro Cup results.
Frank Deiny Jr (Pro Cup) - Won almost everything in Late Model Stock Car racing last year and is doing well in USAR Pro Cup.
Ty Dillon (Legends) – Strong showings for Richard Childress’s grandson in Legends Car action in Florida and the Carolinas have this kid headed for a big year.
Tim Fuller (DIRT) – This racer won Super Dirt Series opener and had a great trip to Florida in February.
Bobby Gill (Pro Cup) – We’ll refrain from the “like a fine wine” analogies for this veteran racer. Gill is showing no signs of letting up in his twilight racing years. His win at South Boston and near-win at South Georgia are evidence.
Nathan Haseleu (CRA) – Put on a thriller of a race with longtime friend Josh Vadnais for victory in Nashville, but Haseleu built on his momentum from his Wisconsin Challenge Series title last year for victory.
Frank Deiny, Jr. has had an impressive start to his Pro Cup career
Woody Howard (Pro Cup) – His breakout season in Pro Cup may have officially started in South Georgia. He’s had top-five potential in every other race, too.
Ryan Lawler (PASS South) – This kid has proven to be the man when it comes to PASS South at Hickory, thanks to his Easter Bunny 150 dominating performance and his win there last August.
Junior Miller (Southern Mods) – Still the man to beat in Southern Modified action, but he’s shown signs of mortality by being taken down by guys like…
LW Miller (Southern Mods) – Started off year with a Southern Modified Tour win at Caraway Speedway, setting him as an early threat to Junior Miller’s SMT stronghold on the title.
Doug Moff (Goodyear Challenge) – Already has two wins in the semi-competitive Goodyear Challenge Series.
Jeff Pearl (SK Mods) – This veteran SK Modified driver has plenty of wins at Waterford Speedbowl (CT), but none were more impressive than his SK Nationals victory earlier this spring.
Hunter Robbins (SLM) – This kid proved to be the hard-luck loser in the Rattler, but he showed that he wasn’t going to give up. He won the first Blizzard Series race in Pensacola by DQ, but he is in a good spot to win plenty of others fair and square this year.
Ben Rowe (SLM) – This Maine racer has taken an approach in recent months that he’ll race anywhere and in anything at anytime and it’s paid off like his North 100 victory during Speedfest in Lakeland.
Joey Saldana (Sprints) – There’s no debate here, Saldana has been kicking ass again in the premier Sprint Car Series in the country.
John Stancill (Legends) - Won the latest Legends race at Lanier as well as claimed the Semi-Pro Winternationals Champion. He is the man to beat in the Semi Pro Division.
Hunter Robbins' win in the Blizzard opener and near-win at the Rattler have him just missing the top-10 cut.
Derek Thorn (ASALM) - Attoned for getting beat by Eddie Hoffman late in the ASALM Challenge Series event in Nashville last November to score the win there March 31st.
Ricky Weeks (Carolina Clash) – Scored two big-money wins to start off the dirt Super Late Model Carolina Clash Series.