More Winners of the 51 Awards Are Announced
Most Promising Drivers, Most Improved Driver and Top Car Owner Are Revealed
You voted and over a two-week period, Speed51.com will reveal the winners in the 2008 51 Awards. These awards contain 36 categories related to short track racing during the 2007 season. Fans voted over a one-month period and their ballots were verified and tabulated. Watch Speed51.com daily to see more winners with the biggest honor, Short Track Racer of the Year, being announced on March 17th live on Race Talk Radio.
Most Promising Driver Over the Age of 21
To those who watched him win countless Legends Car races in New England and then struggle with set-ups during his first few years of PASS North racing, Corey Williams always had plenty of potential. In 2007, his potential was finally realized though when he won three PASS South features and an ASA Late Model event.
The Speed51.com fans recognized that potential as well, as they voted Williams the Most Promising Driver Over the Age of 21 in the 51 Awards by a healthy margin.
Finishing second was Florida hotshoe Jeff Choquette, who is already showing his strength in 2008 by winning Speedfest 2008 and the Florida Speedweeks Super Late Model championship.
Second generation Modified standout Matt Hirschman placed third on the list and was followed by Jacob Goede of ASA Late Models and Woody Pitkat, who raced a little bit
of everything (Tour Modifieds, SK Modifieds, Sunoco Modifieds, Late Models and even a NASCAR Grand National level car) in 2007.
Sixth place was notable as well because it was a rare tie for position. The two racers locked together in that position were ASA Late Model champion Travis Dassow and James Civali of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
Most Promising Driver Under the Age of 21
He’s won races in the NASCAR East Series, NASCAR West Series and USAR Pro Cup Series. He’s the 2007 NASCAR Busch East Series champion. Yet he is not only so young that he can’t drink yet, he is also so young that he can’t even vote yet.
He’s Joey Logano and at the age of 17, he is the fan’s choice for Most Promising Driver Under the Age of 21. The voting wasn’t even close, Logano beat out second place by a nearly three to one margin and he got more votes than the rest of the top eight choices combined!
Logano is definitely going places. His 18th birthday will come later this spring and he’s already got plans to enter the NASCAR Nationwide Series in a Joe Gibbs Racing entry at that point. What he will end up accomplishing in the sport someday is still unknown, but the sky is the limit.
Ryan Lawler was next on the list. This young driver has already proved himself worthy of the 2007 PASS South championship and has plans to tackle the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series next. The Texan is a graduate of Legends cars and his future is definitely bright.
Modster Andy Seuss, who turns 21 this month actually, ranked third in the balloting. At his young age, Seuss has already won a Florida Speedweeks Modified championship and a NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified feature at Music City Motorplex (TN). He’s race full-time on the WSMT this season for Riggs Racing, while also running a limited schedule of Northern races and open shows for his family’s team.
PASS North’s Derek Ramstrom was voted fourth. He’s looking to have a breakout year in 2008 as he returns full-time to that series while also racing a Super Late Model/Pro Stock weekly at Thompson International Speedway (CT) and entering a number of PASS South shows.
Rounding out the top five was Matt Hawkins, who won two USAR Pro Cup events in his rookie season and finished second in both the prestigious Snowball Derby and World Crown last fall.
Most Improved Driver
Didn’t we see Corey Williams’ name already in this story? Well, get ready to see it again as the Maine native, who now calls North Carolina home, was also voted as the most improved driver for the 2007 short track season.
Williams, who had won no races in his PASS North career, won his first PASS South race…and then his second…and then his third. Then he won in his first ever ASA Late Model start. He also contended for the victory while driving an unfamiliar car in the TD Banknorth 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway (ME).
Williams had quite a lead over runner-up Ronnie Silk, but that Modified driver was no slouch in 2008. Silk battled for the title all throughout the season and won his first career race in the series late in the year.
Next up was Travis Dassow, who managed to win his first ASA Late Model race in the same season when he also earned the ASA LM Challenge Series championship.
Woody Pitkat ranked fourth thanks to his step up from the weekly ranks of NASCAR racing to the Modified Tour. Rounding out the top five was Casey Smith, who managed to win all of the Viper Series points races at South Alabama Speedway, as well as the Mobile track championship, with his Super Late Model.
Car Owner of the Year
Placing one car in the top five of the NASCAR Busch East Series standings is impressive. Owning two entries that finished there is amazing. But that kind of thing is nothing new for team owner Andy Santerre, who has won four series titles as a driver. Santerre fielded cars for Sean Caisse and rookie Jeffrey Earnhardt in 2007 and both young drivers delivered the goods. Also, while not owning the car per se, Santerre helped to coach Earnhardt’s car chief, Corey Williams, to breakthrough performances in PASS South and ASA Late Models (see above…twice)
For those reasons, Santerre squeaked out a narrow victory as Car Owner of the Year.
After being a fixture on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour for decades, Bob Garbarino
finally earned himself a championship as a car owner in 2007 with Donny Lia at the
Tony Stewart ranked third thanks to his entries in USAC and World of Outlaws Sprint
Ben Rowe has said that his car owner Richard Moody is willing to race anywhere as
long as the team has fun doing it. The RMR bunch had plenty of fun racing everywhere
from the Canadian Maritimes to South Alabama in 2007, and they won the PASS North
title along the way. Moody finished fourth in the 51s voting.
Gary and Jo Schultz gave Nathan Haseleu two championship-caliber racecars in 2007
and Haseleu delivered them titles on both the ASA Midwest Tour and in the Wisconsin Challenge Series. They rounded out the top five.
Stay tuned to Speed51.com from now until March 17th to find
out the other winners of the 51 Awards
Andy Santerre's two car East Series team.