51’s Short Track Draft - The Original
Picks #26 Through #51
26) Derek Thorn (ASA Late Models) - Thorn broke onto the scene big time in late 2006 and early 2007 in ASA Late Models, but he hasn’t been heard from too much since a big Challenge Division race at Nashville last spring. Thorn, 22, has a heavy right foot and is always good for a quote, so he’s got two major assets that teams look for. He lost his ride in ASALMs last year and has potential now to get back into victory lane, where he needs to be in order to progress.
27) Trent Snyder (ASA Late Models) – Talk about battle tested, 24-year-old Trent Snyder held off two savvy veterans Peter Cozzolino and Charlie Menard throughout the 2007 ASA Late Model North season all the way to the final laps of the final race, but Snyder held strong. Two wins helped earn the title, too. Now, all Snyder needs to do is run Challenge Division or some other series outside of the ASALM North in order to catch some eyes. He’s too talented to get stuck racing in the Upper Midwest for long.
28) Colt James (ASA Late Models) - Knowledge and talent are two things that Colt James has, which could prove to be a formidable force some day. He’s also got a very marketable, very rough-and-tough name. He’s a consistent threat for ASA Late Model wins, he just needs to do some more racing to keep his name out there. He’s 25, so it’s time to start racing a lot and winning as much as possible before it’s too late to catch that eye. Working at Yates Racing's engine shop isn't hurting, either.
29) Ben Stancill (Camping World East / Pro Cup) - Coming out of the Legends ranks, Stancill ran in the Pro Cup Series in 2007 with moderate success and has moved up to the
Camping World East Series in 2008, earning a third-place finish in the opening CWES race at Greenville. He’s now 19 and seems to have shed the bad habits a Legends Car can teach a driver that stays in the small cars too long, but he could get lost in media due to his younger brother John stealing the headlines coming up through the ranks as well.
30) James Civali (Mods) - Some weeks, James Civali is the “next big thing” to come out of the Northeastern Modified ranks. Other weeks, Civali’s considered a bit of a brat that uses his bumper too much. He’s already starting to get a very Ted Christopher-like persona around the ranks, which is both good and bad. Everyone knows Civali has infinite amounts of talent, but his reputation follows him wherever he goes. His antics on the track seem to be on the decline, but they still happen every now and again.
31) Marc Davis (Camping World East/West) – The Joe Gibbs Racing NASCAR Camping World East and West Series stable is down to one car, which is just fine with 17-year-old Marc Davis. Teammate Joey Logano stole a bunch of the headlines from Davis in 2007, but while Logano got the media attention, Davis did his talking with the steering wheel. A consistent season in 2007 earned him third in points, but with Logano’s success, that was often overlooked. Now, Davis is the big guy on the JGR campus and it’s showing with top-five runs in Phoenix and Greenville. He’s won in everything he’s ever driven, so Davis is in the perfect place to get that first CWES victory in 2008.
Derek Thorn came up just shy of our top-25 draft picks. (51 Photos)
35) Casey Smith (Super Late Models) – Casey Smith had one of the most successful seasons in all of Super Late Model racing in 2008. He won a bunch at Mobile International Speedway in their Miller Lite Series and was strong everywhere he went from Pensacola to Nashville. Smith’s main problem is that he’s been doing the same thing for a few years now at just 23. A couple trips outside the deep South would help his credibility.
36) Travis Kittleson (Pro Cup) – Kittleson’s ability combined with the JCR3 Hooters Pro Cup team could prove to be good for both the driver and the team. He has had a few chances at the big time with a few races in the Busch (Nationwide) and Truck Series and has performed admirably, but at 27 years old, Kittleson might not be past his prime, but he is nearing the end of the road to be considered a youngster in the sport. It is unclear if he will get a second chance to make it beyond the regional short-track realm.
37) Patrick Sheltra (ARCA) - They call him “Mr. Showtime” and he lives up to his name, running well on both dirt and asphalt. He ran the entire ARCA schedule last year and came away seventh in the standings. He also won a World of Outlaws Late Model race in 2007 at just 22. Although he has run well in ARCA the only opportunity for advancement is winning. He currently sits fourth in points, but how long can this family owned team last before the cup teams run them out?
38) Joey Pole (ACT) –The New Hampshire teen has developed into one of the powerhouses in a series where the competition can be pretty close to equal at times. He won the ACT season opener at Lee earlier this month and showed well at New Smyrna Speedway’s World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing in February. He’s young (18 years old), he’s hungry and he’s talented, plus he’s got a winning personality too. Needs to post some numbers in something more powerful than an ACT Late Model to be scouted. Was also a victim of the Shark [Energy Drink] Attack of 2008, where promised sponsorship dollars didn’t materialize and his plans of also driving for a top SLM team vanished as a result.
39) Jesse Saunders (ASA Late Models) – Winning Rookie of the Year in the ASA Late Model North ranks is an accomplishment in and of itself considering all the rookies that try to tame the tough series. Saunders won the RoY title in 2007 at 22, earning a handful of top-five finishes and several fast qualifier awards. With a couple victories, Saunders may start to stand out more. Consistent top-fives aren’t what the scouts are looking for.
Ross Furr is no stranger to UARA victory lane, therefore no stranger to our drafters.
Here is a list of the remainder of picks 26-51 of the 18+ Shorrt Track Draft
32) Travis Cope (ASA Southeast / Super Late Models) – With a last name like Cope, he has to be good. In 2007, 19-year-old Travis Cope went from being former ASA star Mike Cope’s on-the-rise son to a must-watch racer wherever he goes. Cope is a tough and gritty racer, much like his dad, plus he’s polite and has a good look. He needs to keep up the wins like he got in a Crate Late Model race in Lakeland earlier, plus venturing outside Florida a little bit more may help.
33 (TIE) Alex Yontz (UARA / Camping World East) – Alex Yontz has had a few big wins in his career, like the Bailey’s 300 at Martinsville Speedway (VA) in 2006 and a couple wins in the UARA-Stars Series at Ace Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway in 2007. This year he is competing in the NASCAR Camping World East Series and again with UARA at 21. He’s got the will to succeed and is a good driver. However, the “going nowhere fast” syndrome is plaguing Yontz. He’s made a few runs in ARCA, but he needs to pursue that and his Camping World East efforts this year in order to not be just a LMSC driver for the rest of his career.
33 (TIE) Jeffrey Earnhardt (Camping World East) - Ran a solid rookie season last year in Camping World East with a career best third place finish in the final race at Dover International Speedway. For the year, Earnhardt logged six top ten finishes and 4 four top five finishes. He’s got the right last name to succeed in the racing business. He has come a long way from the start of 2007 to present day, but of course having the same last name of a seven-time NASCAR champion puts major pressure on Jeffrey. Also he’s a little shy in front of the cameras, but he’s only 18, so he’ll get there.
34) Randy Cabral (NEMA Midgets) – If you look at the NEMA Midget standings going back to 2002, you’ll see one name in the top five for each season – Randy Cabral. This 28-year-old wheelman has finished second in the title fight on two occasions, but not taken the top spot quite yet. He has the smoothness and precision that winning races with an ultra-quick NEMA midget requires. But do any talent scouts pay attention to NEMA Midgets? He needs to wheel some other types of racecars to get anyone to notice him.
Casey Smith's big 2007 turned some heads.
40) Ross Furr (UARA-Stars) – The 24-year-old reigning champion in the UARA-Stars Series has proven he is strong in the Late Model Stock realm. While it took him a few years to finally get a Late Model Stock win, you could compare his consistency to that of former Cup champ Terry Labonte’s driving style in the NASCAR ranks. His name is simple to say, simple to spell and easy for sponsors to attach themselves to. That along with his consistent nature from behind the wheel is great exposure for a team and sponsor in events. Ross could get stuck in the Late Model Stock world if he doesn’t start to dabble in other types of racing series.
41) Josh Richards (WoO Dirt Late Models) – He’s simply known as “Kid Rocket.” The now 20-year-old hotshoe from West Virginia is dirt late model racing’s top prospect. We were all pretty high on Jeremy Clement’s a couple years ago and while he is dabbling in the Nationwide Series, Clement doesn’t run the DLM anymore. “Kid Rocket” knows how to do a little stylin’ and profilin’ on and off the track. He won six
times in 70-starts last year and had top-10 finishes in more than half of those. This year he won the WoO Dirt Late Model opener and has 19 top-10s in 27-starts. It’s always a tough transition when you go from dirt to asphalt, especially from a Late Model or Modified, but we’d love to see “Kid Rocket” get a good shot at it.
42) Brian Ickler (Camping World West) – After a breakout season in the Camping World West Series last season, Ickler has packed his bags and his racecars and moved to Mooresville, NC to compete in the East Series this season. Another young star of the West ranks, Eric Holmes, did the same thing last season, but didn’t fare too well on the East Coast. Ickler is hoping for a different outcome with his family team in 2008. Ickler is young (22), good looking and can drive a car, but he’s going to have to win outside of a Bill McAnally ride in a tough East Series to prove he’s worthy of the hype.
43) Taylor Satterfield (ASA Southeast / GAS) – 2007 was a breakout season for Taylor Satterfield. After limited success, Taylor broke through to victory lane in the tough Georgia Asphalt Series last year and has so far impressed many with strong runs on the ASA Southeast Tour. Satterfield’s not afraid to travel and he’s got the right look and will have to win some more races to really hit the home run he’s swinging for. Plus he’s only 19, so there’s still some time to do some short trackin’ before going big time.
44) Drew Herring (Pro Cup) – You won’t find a more polite and friendly kid out there. But when Drew Herring straps on the helmet, he’s hell on wheels. Herring battled for track titles at South Boston (VA) as well as for other titles and has gone on to plenty of LMSC success. Now that he’s in a potent Pro Cup ride (the Black’s Tire #22), Herring is in the right place as he works up the ladder. Throw in a win or two this year and the 20-year-old could be the next in the line of the LMSC-turned-Pro Cup stars such as Shane Huffman to make it to the big time – just hopefully Herring sticks around longer up there than Huffman did.
45) Alex Haase (PASS South / Super Late Models) – You’ve heard to the Alan Parsons project, well Haase is the Kyle Busch project. Busch found Haase in his native-Vegas area and immediately began working with him through the Legends Car ranks, then last year a stint in NASCAR’s West Series and now with the KBM Super Late Model team. The 18-year-old flunked his test in the PASS South opener in Hickory, but received a grade of B+ in the second event of the year in Cordele, GA. He had a shot at the win until another competitor turned him. He’s a good looking kid who
is trying to model himself (how he dresses and carries himself) after his boss. Whether or not he has his boss’ talents behind the wheel is still up in the air, but this year will be a good test.
46) Chuck Barnes, Jr. (Super Late Models) – How the mighty have fallen. Barnes was the second draft pick two years ago. (Jason Hogan was #1 that year and he isn’t in the top-51 anymore either.) He is a phenom behind the wheel, smooth yet fast, but he’s not racing much anymore and when he does it’s in his Salem Speedway backyard. Barnes is a former CRA Super Series champion and he thought he would ride the coat-tails of Frank Kimmel into the ARCA Series. That did happen, but without a lot of success and then his personal life interfered with racing. He’s now at least 25 and we still believe in him, but we don’t hear much from him anymore. Calling Chuck Barnes; tell us what’s going on!
47) Jimmy Blewett (Whelen Mods) – Jimmy Blewett learned his early racing lessons from one of the best teachers out there – his late brother John Blewett, III. Now 27, Jimmy won both the SK Modified and Tour Modified champions at New Smyrna in February and is hoping to make an equal mark on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour this year. Blewett is also one of the most colorful characters in short track racing. “Showtime” isn’t afraid to speak his mind or brag a little bit. He’s not afraid to get aggressive to get to the front either. His honest and candid personality isn’t very politically correct and could hurt him in the modern racing world. He’s also had anger management issues in the past.
48) Dan Fredrickson (ASA Midwest Tour / Super Late Models) – Ever hear anyone talk about a pure racer. Well, if you looked one up in the dictionary you’d find a picture of Danny Fredrickson. He is a beast both behind the wheel and literally in person. He’s a big Minnesota boy and he’s got the area-broque to boot. His best shot came a few years ago with the old LaFavre Racing, but that went nowhere. He’s a consistent winner in the upper-Midwest and last year he told us he still wants a shot
at the big time. You can’t find his age on his site and that should tell you something. He has to be in his late-20’s, but age is a sensitive thing. He’s a winner, not a points racer, but time may be running out for a shot at the big three.
49) Woody Pitkat (Mods, NASCAR WAAS) – There were times in 2007 when you could find Woody Pitkat running a racecar up to four days a week – with as many as a half dozen features planned for a single weekend. The 28-year-old’s got weekly rides at Stafford and Thompson again in 2008 again, but doesn’t have a touring series ride after being dismissed by the Hillbilly Racing #79 Modified Tour team this off-season. There’s no question he can drive (he won 11 races in 2007 and was second in NASCAR All-American Series points) and can learn any type of car from a Modified to a Camping World East car, but he has a reputation for being a little wild both on and off the track, so if he can back it down a bit, he’ll get that attention he deserves.
50) Jesse Smith (ASA Late Models / ARCA) – When they say “good things come in small packages,” perhaps maybe they were both referring to 18-year-old Jesse Smith…or perhaps they were referring to his longtime sponsor, Spam? No, probably Smith, because we did say “good things.” Anyway, Smith won an ASALM North Championship and has excelled in his limited ARCA starts in 2008, but he hasn’t won a whole bunch of races. In fact, he hasn’t won any ASALM races. He’s going to have to see those checkers first at some point, but he’s got the personality and the drive to do it.
51) David Mayhew (Camping World West) – Like Brian Ickler, Eric Holmes and several others, the West Coast NASCAR Grand National Division is chock full of young talent. Mayhew broke out in 2007 with four top-fives and several near-victories. He’s 26 and hasn’t been to victory lane yet, however, which is his biggest downfall. A few victories could really have Mayhew emerging from the pack of West Coast youngsters ready to make the next step.
Call him "Showtime" or "The People's Champ," Jimmy Blewett has made some fans with all his recent success.