More Winners of the 51 Awards Are Announced
"Steady Eddie", Best Female, Best Feud and Oddest Moment Winners 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.
Best “Steady Eddie” Driver
Some drivers make lots of noise by leading laps and charging sideways through the field for their victories. Other drivers slip under the radar to accomplish the same goal. You might see them start a race outside the top 10 and be running fifth or sixth by halfway. Then they will pass a few more cars and before you know it, the race is almost over and they are fighting for the lead.
Those are also the drivers who seem to win championships and finish strong year after year in the point standings.
According to the Speed51.com readers, nobody did that kind of thing better in 2007 than Frank Kimmel. That makes sense. Kimmel battled teams with NASCAR connections and larger budgets to claim his record ninth ARCA RE/MAX Series title. Three wins helped his cause, but finishing in the top 10 on 17 different occasions is what really made the difference.
Not far behind Kimmel in the voting was USAR Hooters Pro Cup veteran Gary St. Amant, who won the Northern Division title in 2007 by using his head and finishing consistently.
Todd Szegedy finished third in the voting by finishing second to Donny Lia in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour standings. While Lia made headlines by winning six races, Szegedy won twice and finished within the top 10 on 11 different occasions.
PASS North pilot Richie Dearborn was up next. Dearborn only won one race, but stayed right in the midst of a Rowe battle for the title right down to the final race of the year. ACT late Modeler jean Paul Cyr rounded out the top five by claiming his seventh tour title without even winning a single race.
Battles can make short track racing exciting and sometimes they get so down and dirty that they carry on even off the track. We’ve seen fellow competitors trade barbs, and occasional punches through the years. But we’ve never seen anything quite like what the 51 reader voted as the top feud of 2007.
That’s because it didn’t involve a pair of drivers. It involved two organizations.
By a large margin, fans voted the short track version of Spy vs. Spy as their winner. We’re talking about the battle of ASA vs. ASA. In one corner is the Varney family’s ASA Late Model Series that has been growing year after year out of what was once the USPRO Series. Their name came from a licensing agreement issued by the old ASA National Tour headed by Steve Dale.
Meanwhile, Dennis Huth’s organization ended up with rights to the ASA name from Dale after the National Tour shut down. He now has the ASA Midwest Tour, ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour, ASA Modifieds, ASA Northwest Series and ASA Member Track program as just a few items in his portfolio.
Neither group is particularly happy with the other one using the ASA name and both groups feel that they have a legal right to the name. They exchanged words, press releases and lawsuits in 2007 over the once-proud name. The competitors were confused, the fans were confused…even the writers at Speed51.com were confused by what was going on and there is no solution in sight.
A good old fashioned on-track battle took second place in the voting and of course, it involved Ted Christopher. You could call this one Ted Christopher vs. the World at Florida Speedweeks last February. He tangled with Andy Seuss and those two racers erased each other from their Christmas card lists. He tangled with Joey Logano, Mike Fritts and Shane Seig as well. Not everyone loved Teddy when the races was wrapped up.
Third were Joey Logano and Sean Caisse, who battled for race win after race wins, and the NASCAR Busch East Series championship, all year long.
Steve Berry and Bill Penfold ranked fourth after a tangle during the PASS North race at Riverside which results in a few colorful quotes after the event and Penfold walking away from PASS racing for awhile (he took the rest of 2007 off to protest, but is said to be coming back to battle for the championship this season).
A twisted tale of rules interpretation, disqualifications and suspensions between Jack Smith and the ASA Late Model Series rounded out the top five.
So far, there has not been a female race car driver who has been a household name in one of NASCAR’s top divisions. Shawna Robinson and Patty Moise came close, but did not quite get their. A group of young ladies on the short tracks of American is looking to change that forever though.
Ted Christopher (#36) got up close to a lot of his fellow competitors at Speedweeks last year - and nobody seemed to like it very much.
You won't see Frank Kimmel make a lot of spectacular moves on the racetrack, but you will see him winning a lot of races every season.
Second generation driver Chrissy Wallace is among that group and the readers of Speed51.com named her as the best female racer in the land. Wallace made history by winning a Late Model Stock Car event at Hickory Motor Speedway this year and has ARCA plans next on her agenda.
Less than 100 points back from Wallace was another history-making racer. Erica Santos won a NEMA Midget feature last season at Stafford Motor Speedway and has shown that all of the talent in her family didn’t just go to brother Bobby.
The winner of the ARCA Superspeedway title, Erin Crocker, was next in the voting and was followed by Pro Late Model teen racer Johanna Long and Busch East Series competitor Michelle Thierault.
If you stick around racing long enough, you’ll see some strange things happen. But according to the readers of Speed51.com there was nothing stranger that occurred in
2007 than how the winner of the ASA Late Model event at Motor Mile was determined.
Let’s re live Jeremy Troiano’s recap of the race to see exactly what happened…
On the track, Cozzolino’s #11 led 199.75 laps from the drop of the green flag. But he didn't lead when the checkers were being thrown. Instead, he was sitting crashed against the inside wall, along with innocent victim Michael Annett.
Derek Thorn was the one taking the checkers, leading just one quarter of a lap. Thorn got under Cozzolino in turns three and four coming to the checkered flag. Cozzolino said Thorn spun him. Thorn said Cozzolino came down. Whoever was right, Thorn got the checkers and Cozzolino found himself wrecked against the inside wall.
However, much later in the evening, after many cars had already packed up and headed home and after Victory Lane celebrations were already completed with Thorn in the pictures, ASA officials deemed the pass that Thorn made to apparently take the win and caused Cozzolino’s accident to be rough driving. Therefore, they awarded the win to Cozzolino. Thorn was moved back to 15th, the last car on the lead lap.
Finishing second in the odd moment category was another strange finish. That was during the Mason Dixon Meltdown when Corey Williams led Ben Rowe going into the final turn. A lapped car spun right in their path and while Williams wisely avoided danger, Rowe raced back to the flag under yellow. The move was allowed under PASS rules and Rowe claimed the victory by only leading a very short distance.
The cancellation of the ASA Late Model Southern Division event at DeSoto Speedway was next on the list. After teams practiced and qualified for the race, it was cancelled. A disagreement and possible physical altercation between track and series officials was to blame.
Next up was the moment when the lights went out during the middle of the PASS North feature at Riverside Speedway (NH). Everyone managed to stop in complete darkness without hitting anything and after some electrical work, the race when on to the end.
Finally, the tale of the Rowes at the TD Banknorth 250 was rated as fifth on the list. Both Rowes planned to race at Oxford after running a PASS event in Canada on the day before. It rained in Canada though and the race was scheduled for early on a Sunday afternoon. The Rowes charted a plane back to Oxford and landed just before the feature race.
However, neither Rowe was allowed to start the event. The track did not allow either one a previous winner’s provisional because they did not make a reasonable attempt to
make the race. Ben Rowe had enlisted multi-time track champion Jeff Taylor to qualify his car, but a few penalties kept Taylor out of a transfer spot. Mike Rowe’s team put Patrick Laperle in their car instead and Laperle barely missed the show as well. So despite the track announcer’s repeated updates through the day on the Rowes’ travel progress, when the green flag flew neither man was racing.
Stay tuned to Speed51.com from now until March 17th to find
out the other winners of the 51 Awards
After the race was over at Motor Mile, Derek Thorn held the winner's trophy and Peter Cozzolino got towed in on the hook. A few hours later, their fates changed.
Chrissy Wallace graduated from Legends to win in Late Model Stock Cars. (ChrissyWallaceRacing.com Photo)