Short Track Power has been a staple of Speed51.com's short track coverage for years.  We've taken the voting of a diverse panel of short track experts and mashed it all together to formulate a rating to see who is on top in the short track world at various times throughout the season.  We've even done end-of-season Power Ratings as well.  But we've never tried to predict the future.  Taht is until now.

Welcome to the first-ever Speed51.com Pre-Season Power Ratings.  The rules this time are a little bit different though.  Usually, we caution our voters not to pay attention to point standings and tell us who they think the most powerful racers out there are.  This time, we told them to think about points and pick who they thought would be the top championship contenders in each one of 10 short track series.

For the most part, many of our judges played it safe and went with repeat titlists.  But some of them also rolled the dice a little bit.  We fed their picks into the computer and came up with a rating for each driver.  Then we ranked the top 10 on each tour in the order of where our little exercise predicts they will end the year in points.

We stayed away from some tours, like ARCA, because their seasons had started and we stayed away from others like the ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour, because it is just too much of a question mark when it comes to who is going to be on the roster.

With some time to go before season openers, this isn't an exact science.  Sometimes, it's hard to tell who will even be racing in a full schedule.  Ben and Mike Rowe have both been on the fence about chasing points in PASS North for example, Sean Caisse is still looking for a ride in the Camping World East Series and who knows what PASS South races Corey Williams will get to around his duties as a car chief for the Andy Santerre Motorsports Camping World East team?  Some of our panalists steered away from picking drivers who had question marks around their schedules.  Some embraced them.  After all, many racers will find a way to make every race on the schedule no matter what they say in the off-season right?

So without further ado, here are the "expert" opinions on who will win big on short tracks during the upcoming 2008 racing season.


Speed51.com's Pre-Season Power Predictions - Top 10 in Points For Various Short Track Series

ACT Late Model Tour

Jean Paul Cyr has won the last five ACT Late Model championships.  He's won seven in his career, so who are our panel of experts to vote against him winning another one in 2008?  Cyr was the only driver in all ten series to be voted as first or second by each of our panelists.  Other drivers who received number one votes were young gun Joey Pole, Scott Payea and Patrick Laperle.

Actually, Laperle could be a wildcard in this whole process.  The 12007 ACT Serie Quebec champion is not expected to run the entire ACT Late Model schedule, but if he does watch out.  As one of our voters wrote of his picks: "This, of course, is all assuming Patrick Laperle does NOT run for the title. If he does, slide my choices down one and put him at the top of the list."

Another wild card is the rumor that Phil Scott and Brad Leighton might team up to take a run at the team title in ACT.  While neither driver be the champion in that case, they sure could make their share of headlines and "a sure spoiler for a lot of teams." according to one of our experts.

Power Rankings:

1.  Jean Paul Cyr - 1.60 Rating
2.  Joey Pole - 3.60 Rating
3.  Brent Dragon - 3.80 Rating
4.  Scott Payea - 4.00 Rating
5.  Patrick Laperle - 4.20 Rating
6.  Roger Brown - 4.60 Rating
7.  Eric Chase - 5.70 Rating
8.  Randy Potter - 5.80 Rating
9.  Donald Theetge - 5.85 Rating
10.  Ryan Vanasse - 5.95 Rating

Selected Comments From The Voters:

"As tempting as it is to pick against Jean-Paul Cyr, I have a hard time making that choice. He may not have won a
race last year, and he may not have been totally happy with his car, but he was still consistent enough to be
considered dominant."

"How can you go against Jean Paul Cyr? Ok so he didn’t win a race in 200, but with the closeness of the American Canadian Tour just making the race is half the battle. Cyr’s major competition will be himself in 2008."

"Eric Chase showed the short track world what he could do at Florida Speedweeks.  He could have a breakout year in ACT as well."

"Randy Potter is the best racer out there that you've never heard of.  It wouldn't surprise me one bit for him to be in the thick of the ACT title fight."

"Scott Payea has shown a lot of promise for the coming years, and he can do what it takes to beat Cyr. Were it not for being taken out at St-Eustache and getting shuffled around at Oxford a couple times, I think he’d have taken the title away."

"Québec’s Donald Theetge now has a full year running on the American tracks, so he’ll be much better."

"Roger Brown could follow up his Banknorth 250 win with a ACT title."

"Joey Pole was my Numero Uno.  He might still be a teenager, but he's ready to win big."
51's Pre-Season Short Track Power Ratings by Mike Twist - With Some Help From a Lot of Friends and "Experts"
Who Is Going to Win a Title on 10 Short Track Tours?  Our "Experts" Weigh In
ASA Late Model Challenge Series

Don't expect the ASA Late Model Challenge Series title to be a one-horse race.  Just listen to one of our panalists:

"The way the pre-season looks, this may be the most hotly contested championship chase in recent ASA Late Model Series Challenge Division memory…and that’s saying a lot.  The Challenge Division brings together the best of the ASA Late Model Series North Division and the South Division."

So expect a championship battle between young guns like Sean Murphy, Travis Dassow and Derek Thorne against the likes of veterans like Eddie Hoffman and Robbie Pyle.  Will youth beat experience?  Well, over half of our panel mentioned Hoffman as the guy to beat, but Dassow, Thorn and Murphy also received number one picks.  Only time will tell. 

Power Rankings:

1.  Eddie Hoffman - 1.86 Rating
2.  Sean Murphy - 3.14 Rating
3.  Travis Dassow - 3.29 Rating
4.  Derek Thorne - 3.86 Rating
5.  Jacob Goede - 4/86 Rating
6.  Peter Cozzolino - 5.00 Rating
7.  Charlie Menard - 5.43 Rating
8.  Robbie Pyle - 5.64 Rating
9.  Logan Ruffin - 5.79 Rating
10. Kris Stump - 5.86 Rating

Selected Comments From The Voters:

"How can you not pick a guy who wins in everything he drives?  Eddie Hoffman will be hard to beat this year."

"Eddie Hoffman is a veteran who looks a little out of sorts at ASA Late Model Series Challenge Division drivers meetings…I mean, after all, he shaves, has his drivers license and been on a date before.  He is from suburban Chicago and away from the track plays recreational hockey.  In another words, he tough.  And he brings that tough-guy mentality with him to the racetrack.  A threat to win wherever he and his Lisa Thomas Salon team pull to.  But they always seem to have a race or two where something weird happens, snake bitten if you will, costing them a good finish.  My prediction: A few wins and a solid fourth place point placing."

"Eddie Hoffman will be on top this year."

"Derek Thorn moves from the 5K Motorsports team to an entry wrenched by former driver Chad Wood.  The team will be run out of Wood’s Sun Prairie, Wisconsin shop and will put former Charlie Menard equipment under Thorn.  This would be a major upset…sort of like the Giants beating the Patriots or the Diamondbacks beating the Yankees…but Thorn has enough talent to pull it off.  The kid is that good.  The equipment is that good and Wood has a year under his belt as a crew chief.  Thorn is scheduled to compete in the first five Camping World East Series races and the championship prediction is assuming those CWES races don’t take focus away from the task at hand."

"Derek Thorn is going to have a breakout year."

"The only way that Travis Dassow isn't going to repeat his title is if he gets tapped for a NASCAR Truck Series ride midway through the season."

"Travis Dassow is the defending champion and the driver running for Howie Lettow, he’s the easy, and perhaps logical, choice.  He’ll win races…he’s too good, Lettow is too good and the equipment is too good for that not to happen.  But a dynasty has to be broken sometime and I think this is the year."

"The past three Challenge Division championships have been won by Travis Dassow (‘07), Kelly Bires (’06) and Stephen Leicht (’05).  The common denominator in all those titles is crew chief Howie Lettow."  [Dassow and Lettow are back together again this season].

"Like Thorn, Sean Murphy is scheduled to do more racing in 2008…Murphy will run some NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races.  Again, assuming that doesn’t take focus away from him and the team, look for Murphy to win his share of ASA Late Model Series Challenge Division races.  He’s just plain fast, but that’ll happen when you have Butch Miller helping to turn wrenches on your ride.  Won the non-points paying race at Lakeland.  Prediction: He’ll be in the title hunt until the last race of the season."

"Peter Cozzolino is another likeable veteran who picked up his first career Challenge Division win…it coming at Motor Mile (VA) Speedway in 2007.  Prediction:  Another win is a possibility in 2008, but even more likely is consistent top-10 race finishes and a top five point finish."

"Robbie Pyle doesn’t venture too far from his home state of Ohio or his car boss Chas Howe’s home state of Michigan.  But the races that he shows up at, he is bad ass fast (see Milwaukee Mile in 2007).  Because he’ll miss some races he won’t finish in the top-5 in the championship standings.  But he’ll win races and could have a role in determining who does win the championship."




ASA Midwest Tour

Wow...talk about a series on a roll.  The ASA Midwest Tour has rised from the ashes of what was the old NASCAR Midwest Series and carved out quite a place for itself in the short track world.  Here's what one of our panelists had to say:

"In its second year, few series have ever had the success this series did in its inaugural year.  Car counts in 2007 were fantastic (165 drivers scored points) and this year looks to be no different.  Competition level was stout…so much so that only one driver (Dan Fredrickson) scored more than one win.  Fredrickson found victory lane on three occasions.  As if the competition were not tough enough on its own, promoters and series organizers brought in NASCAR “stars” to several races…Kyle Busch, Ron Hornaday, Johnny Sauter, etc.  That too looks to remain constant in 2008."

So who will tame the Midwest Tour this year?  Our panalists trended towards a Nathan Haseleu repeat, with over half of the voters picking him as their number one.  But Dan Fredickson, Tim Schendel and Donny Ruevers all got number one votes as well.

Power Rankings:

1.  Nathan Haseleu - 1.88 Rating
2.  Dan Fredrickson - 3.38 Rating
3.  Tim Schendel - 3.75 Rating
4.  Donny Ruevers - 4.63 Rating
5. Jonathan Eilen - 4.94 Rating
6.  Steve Carlson - 5.00 Rating
7.  Travis Sauter - 5.19 Rating
8.  Kenny Richards - 5.25 Rating
9.  Josh Vadnais - 5.38 Rating
10.  Dave Feiler - 5.50 Ratings

Selected Comments From The Voters:

"Last season, Nathan Haseleu won two championships in the Midwest [he also won the Wisconsin Challenge Series title], so he obviously knows how to win a title.  I think this year, he's got to be the odds-on favorite in the ASA Midwest Tour world."

"Anyone have a three-sided coin?  I forsee a classic three-way title fight between Nathan Haseleu, Dan Fredrickson and Tim Schendel.  Who will come out on top is anyone's guess!"

"I haven't been to any ASA Midwest races, but I’ve been reading a lot of good things about Nathan Haseleu over the past couple of years."

"In 2007, Nathan Haseleu won both the ASA Midwest Tour and Wisconsin Challenge Series titles.  But in 2008 Haseleu switches chassis manufacturers…from Lefthander to Pathfinder.  This is the short track equivalent of Joe Gibbs switching from Chevrolet to Toyota.  Nathan works a lot at his “real” job and he has a family.  That means he won’t be able to do as much pre-season testing as he’d like (plus the Midwestern winter has been brutal and some tracks may not be void of snow until April).  As a result, I predict he comes out of the box slow but by mid-season he’ll be winning races at a record clip (because Nathan and the Pathfinder Chassis are both that good).  However, the early season point hole he digs will be too deep to recover from."

"Dan Frederickson finished the 2007 season on a role, winning the final two events.  I predict he comes out of the box strong in ’08, opens up a big point lead and hangs on for the title.  He is a former NASCAR Elite Series Rookie of the Year, but a major touring championship has eluded him."

"I've heard a lot about youngster Jonathan Eilen."

"Donny Ruevers finished as the runner-up in ASA Midwest Tour points in 2007.  Three words come to mind: Steady, patient and consistent.  I predict that he’ll score his first series win and be in the title hunt right through to the season finale at Oktoberfest."

"Dave Feiler is not flashy…he’s a grinder.  Sort of like the Super Bowl winning New York Giants…no big stars but they get the job done.  He does, however, struggle in qualifying from time to time.  And having to run a last chance qualifier and/or start near the tail of the main hurts him on those off nights.  Nonetheless, he is a touring series veteran and that gives him an advantage…having run different tracks…and he knows how to win.  My prediction, however, is a solid fourth in the championship chase of this challenging series."

"Give a nod to Steve Carlson and Dan Fredrickson if they run the full tour."

"Second-generation speedster Kenny Richards is usually fast wherever he goes.  Consistency seems to be an issue, however.  Scored an ASA Midwest Tour win last year at one of his “home” tracks…Dells Raceway Park.  Certainly not funded with cubic dollars, his team makes the most with what they have.  I’d like to see some more consistency out of Richards, however.  But if my prediction comes true, fifth in this series is nothing to be ashamed of."

"Kyle Calmes is a wildcard.  He's a young hard charger who may be another year away from cracking the top five in ASA Midwest Tour points…but certainly someone to keep an eye on.  In 2007 Brandon Hill came virtually out of nowhere to score a series win at Madison (Wis) Int’l Speedway.  If lightning strikes twice and the series has another surprise winner…don’t be shocked if it is Calmes."
CRA Super Series

The CRA Super Series saw the biggest runaway vote tally of any series.  All but one of our panelists picked Johnny VanDoorn as there top selection.  The sophomore driver finished second to Chris Gabehart in 2007 and appears ready to step it up in 2008.  He ended last season by winning the all-important All American 400, so you know that he can get the job done.

Chris Gabehart is the big question mark going into 2008.  Will he defend his crown or work turning wrenches instead?  We can't iamgine that this talented young driver won't race in 2008, but we've been hearing that just might happen - and that surely hurt his chances with our judges. 

Power Rankings:

1.  Johnny VanDoorn - 1.29 Rating
2.  Scott Hantz - 2.57 Rating
3.  Jeff Lane - 4.00 Rating
4.  Chris Gabehart - 4.14 Rating
5.  Eddie Hoffman - 5.29 Rating
6.  Rick Turner - 5.14 Rating
7.  Terry Fisher, Jr. - 5.43 Rating
8.  Zach Taylor - 5.64 Rating
9.  Aaron Pierce - 5.71 Rating
10.  Jack Smith - 5.79 Rating

Selected Comments From The Voters:

"It seems like Johnny VanDoorn has nothing but momentum on his side, so give him the title. He’ll have plenty of
trouble with the veterans, though."

"Johnny VanDoorn...next series."

"A rookie (VanDoorn) did awesome in 2007, so expect Zach Taylor to do the same thing this season."

"If Eddie Hoffman runs the full season, watch out!"

"I included Jack Smith because he’s just a big ol’ bad-ass."
NASCAR Camping World East Series

It seems that the NASCAR Busch East....oops....we meant the NASCAR Camping World Series, East Divison...or Camping World East or whatever they are calling it these days, is all about change.  Last year's prodigy Joey Logano is moving on after his championship to the NASCAR Nationwide Series.  Two-time champion Mike Olsen has retired from full-time driving duties.  Last year's runner-up in the standings, Sean Caisse, is currently rideless and we're not 100% sure that veteran Bryon Chew will be back full-time either.

So our pickers decided that after six seasons within the top 10 of the standings, it might now be Matt Kobyluck's turn to make the championship speech.  He only gathered a few first place votes actually, but was second on a ton of ballots and mentioned by everyone who took part in this exercise.

Peyton Sellers had double the number of first place votes as Kobyluck, but we're not sure that everyone read the news from this week of Sellers signing with the powerhouse Andy Santerre Motorsports team.

Sean Caisse also gathered one first place vote, but the clock is ticking on the New Hampshire driver when it comes to finding a full-season ride.

Trevor Bayne was listed as high as second on some ballots too, but followers of Camping World east just might not know much about the former Pro Cup driver....yet.

Power Rankings:

1.  Matt Kobyluck - 2.14 Rating
2.  Peyton Sellers - 3.14 Rating
3.  Jeffrey Earnhardt - 4.43 Rating
4.  Sean Caisse - 4.86 Rating
5.  Eddie MacDonald - 5.00 Rating
6.  Trevor Bayne - 5.43 Rating
7.  Jody Lavender - 5.50 Rating
8.  Bryon Chew - 5.57 Rating
    Craig Goess - 5.57 Rating
10.  Rogelio Lopez - 5.68 Rating

Selected Comments From The Voters:

"Is it Matt Kobyluck's turn for a championship?  He's come close before, but this could be his best chance yet."

"Is there anyone left this year other than Matt Kobyluck? I had a really hard time with this series because who knows
who’s driving what (and when) in the series I’ll always refer to as “Busch North.”

"Now that the golden boy Joey Logano has moved on the tour is wide open. Look for Peyton Sellers to make his run for the title."

"I would have picked Peyton Sellers to win the championship this year with his own team.  Signing with Andy Santerre Motorsports just cements my opinion even more."

"If Trevor Bayne can do in Camping World East what he did in Pro Cup, he'll be a threat for sure."

"Eddie MacDonald can get the job done and it appears that he might actually have a budget to work with this year.  He won last year without one, so watch out now."

"I will keep an eye on Eddie Mac and Steve Park."

"Pro Cup followers know that Jody Lavender could be the surprise of the year in Camping World East."

"Jody Lavender can be tough in the 88 car if they run the whole season."
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour

It seems that our panel had the hardest time picking a winner on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour than they did in any other series.  Nobody seems quite sure who will succeed Donny Lia as the champion, now that Lia has gone on to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

Yes, Matt Hirschman scored a pretty comfortable nomination over Ted Christopher, but Todd Szegedy, James Civali and Jimmy Blewett also scored first place votes....and nearly half of the panel put Ted Christopher rin their top two (the other half seemed to keep him out of their top five interestingly enough).  Veterans Mike Stefanik and Eddie Flemke also scored high on certain ballots.

So many racers, so few spots on the list...just check what one of our panelists wrote...

"You’ve got young guys like Todd Szegedy, Bobby Grigas, and Showtime [Jimmy Blewett], and then there’s all the old guard – TC, Marquis, Stefanik…"

The list goes on...and on...and on.

Power Rankings:

1.  Matt Hirschman - 2.14 Rating
2.  Ted Christopher - 3.71 Rating
3.  Jimmy Blewett - 3.86 Rating
4.  Todd Szegedy - 4.00 Rating
5.  James Civali - 4.14 Rating
6.  Mike Stefanik - 4.86 Rating
7.  Eddie Flemke - 5.29 Rating
8.  Ronnie Silk - 5.43 Rating
9.  Bobby Grigas, III - 5.71 Rating
10.  Eric Beers - 5.93 Rating

Selected Comments From The Voters:

"Can you say break out year? His dad won the title five times and he’s going to win it this year. My vote is for Matt Hirschman.

"Matt Hirschman and James Civali aren’t really veterans yet, but they’re already due."

"Like father, like son - Matt Hirschman can win it all."

"Matt Hirschman is a second generation driver who will be the next first time winner on the Tour."

"Could this finally be Ted Christopher's year to win the Modified Tour championship?"

"If Jimmy Blewett can replicate what he did at Florida Speedweeks, the title fight won't even be close."

"Bet on this - Jimmy Blewett will win the most races on the Tour this season...but he's not ready to be a champion...yet."

"Todd Szegedy knows how to finish third when his car tells him it wants to finish fifth.  That is how championships are won."

"Lost in Donny Lia's season of dominance was Todd Szegedy's quietly consistent season.  He knows how to win a championship."

"If he can control his temper, James W. Civali has the skills to win it all."

"I’ve been a fan of Eric Beers for a while now, and I think he can wheel the 46 to success this year."

"Never count Mike Stefanik out."

"Who knows [who can win]? Give me [James] Civali, I guess, he’s really good."

"Joining forces with Hillbilly Racing should propel Ronnie Silk to the top of the heap."

"After a heartbreaking 2007, Jimmy Blewett could well be the sleeper of this bunch."
NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour

Nobody without the last name of Miller has ever won a NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour championship...and our panel doesn't seem to think that will change in 2008.  They overwhelmingly picked LW Miller as the favroite to repeat his title-winning ways of the 2008 season.

He probably won't have much of a threat from the other Miller, two time champ Junior that is.  Junior Miller has vacated the potent Riggs Racing ride and will run his own car at times in 2008.  He probably won't run the full season of races, but if he does our panel says to watch out.

All told, LW was first, second or third and every single ballot.  Rookie Andy Seuss received some first place votes as well after taking over for Junior Miller in the Riggs Modified.  The only other driver to get any ones on our ballots was Burt Myers.  Myers was consitant as well.  All of our panel put him in their top five choices.

Power Rankings:

1.  LW Miller - 1.88 Rating
2.  Burt Myers - 2.50 Rating
3.  Andy Seuss - 3.88 Rating
4.  Tim Brown - 4.13 Rating
5.  Junior Miller - 4.25 Rating
6.  Brian Loftin - 4.88 Rating
7.  Brian King - 5.25 Rating
8.  Jason Myers - 5.63 Rating
9.  Brian Pack - 5.88 Rating
10.  George Brunnhoelzl, III - 5.97 Rating

Selected Comments From The Voters:

"Last years champ [LW Miller] has to be considered the favorite, given his consistancy year long."

"Consistancy is LW Miller's best friend, and I don't see that changing this season."

"The road to the title goes through the Millers."

"Without any fights with Junior Miller to distract him, look for Burt Myers to step up his game this season."

"I like Burt Myers’ personality and he’s a wicked good, old school racer. I’ll take him."

"Burt Myers is always a threat, but he needs more top fives to have a chance to win it all."

"The kid from New Hampshire [Andy Seuss] could win it all down South this year."

"Andy Seuss is a young gun who should be a threat with the established Riggs Racing team."

"Andy Seuss isn't your ordinary rookie.  He's already won a race on the Southern Tour despite only running a few of them in his career so far."

"Brian Loftin Came on strong at the end of the season, but ran out of time.

"Like Loftin, Tim Brown came on strong at the end of the season, nearly wresting the champion from Miller."

"Previous Riggs Racing driver Junior Miller isn't a champion for nothing."

"Junior Miller isn't planning to race the whole season?  I'll believe that when I see the first race without him in the starting field."
PASS North

Every time in history, except once, that there has been a PASS North champion it has been a Rowe or a Clark. 

"Rowe-Rowe-Clark-Clark," wrote one of our experts.  "It really doesn’t seem to matter where PASS goes, that’s who’s going to be up front. I think it would be more fun to pick who will be a surprise podium finisher in July… like Dave Dion!"

Will Ben Rowe or Johnny Clark win another championship?  Not so quick..our panelists gave their nods this year to a different Rowe and a Clark to win the 2008 PASS North title.

Cassius Clark and Mike Rowe have been argueably the biggest threats to win individual races on the tour in recent seasons, but Johnny Clark has won the championship twice and Mike's son Ben has won it four times.  Our panel thinks that Cassius might finally be due for his first championship this time around, with Mike Rowe hot on his heels.

But don't engrave Rowe or Clark into the championship yet.  We're not even certain that either Rowe will race for points this season, and we also wouldn't be surprised to see Cassius Clark try to chase the PASS South title either.  There's always Johnny Clark to battle for the championship, but everyone will face some stiff competition from guys like DJ Shaw, Travis Benjamin, Richie Dearborn, Derek Ramstrom and Adam Bates as well.

By the way, nobody picked Cassius Clark to be outside of their predicted top three.  Ben Rowe and Mike Rowe also received first place votes.  Richie Dearborn scored very high on some ballots, but was left off several others - proof that this consistant and quiet driver can post some big numbers, but isn't well known outside of New England yet.

Power Rankings:

1.  Cassius Clark - 1.88 Rating
2.  Mike Rowe - 2.50 Rating
3.  Ben Rowe - 4.13 Rating
4.  Johnny Clark - 4.75 Rating
5.  DJ Shaw - 4.88 Rating
6.  Trevor Sanborn - 5.00 Rating
7.  Derek Ramstrom - 5.13 Rating
8.  Richie Dearborn - 5.38 Rating
9.  Travis Benjamin - 5.50 Rating
    John Fleming - 5.50 Rating
    Adam Bates - 5.50 Rating

Selected Comments From The Voters:

"The 2008 season can be summed up in three words - Cassius [Clark] is ready."

"Mike Rowe would be the odds on favorite to win the PASS North championship, but what will his schedule look like?  You can't win the big prize without running all of the races."

"Without Ben Rowe running full time the PASS North title will be up for grabs. Smart money would be on Johnny Clark or Mike Rowe, perhaps Cassius Clark could string together some good luck to win his first title. Look for a solid challenge from another driver like Richie Dearborn or DJ Shaw."

"I’m a big believer in D.J. Shaw, keep your eye on him. Rookie of the Year for sure."

"DJ Shaw is just as talented, maybe even more so, than his father Dale....and Dale is one of the greatest drivers in New England history.  DJ is a lot easier on the front bumper though and won't make enemies nearly as much as his father."

"Don't underestimate Derek Ramstrom."

"Travis Benjamin can win it all."

"Nobody seems to know who Richie Dearborn is, but winning the PASS North championship could sure change that fact."

"Adam Bates learned as a rookie in 2007.  In 2008, he should be ready to win races."




PASS South

The best prediction for the 2008 PASS South season is that anything can happen.

The top three vote getters in our championship poll aren't even sure bets to run the full season.  Corey Williams has to juggle his own racing career with his schedule as a car chief for the NASCAR Camping World East Series team of Andy Santerre Motorsports, Ryan Lawler has a Truck Series deal that will likely split his focus on Super Late Models and it appears that Preston Peltier might try out the waters of the new ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour.

But we're talking about a series here where the first champion, Mike Rowe, didn't plan on running more than a handful of races in 2006, but got on such a roll that he kept coming and won the title.

"The cool thing about PASS south is we have not yet seen its peak," wrote one voter.  "We could have a number of drivers who contend for the championship."

So in our polling, Corey Williams was the overwhelming choice of voters - if he was even on their ballots.  Lawler got a few number vone votes as well and Tim Nooner was ranked first on one ballot.

Even Northerners Mike Rowe, Ben Rowe and Cassius Clark ranked high on a few ballots - just in case they venture South to chase points.

Power Rankings:

1.  Corey Williams - 2.14 Rating
2.  Ryan Lawler - 3.00 Rating
3.  Preston Peltier - 4.00 Rating
4.  Heath Hindman - 4.86 Rating
5.  Tim Nooner - 5.00 Rating
    Dean Clattenburg - 5.00 Rating
7.  Mark Gibson - 5.29 Rating
    Justin Wakefield - 5.29 Rating
9.  Blake Lehr - 5.43 Rating
10.  Brad Biscoff - 5.71 Rating

Selected Comments From The Voters:

"On paper Corey Williams, Preston Peltier and Ryan Lawler are the odds on favorites."

"It's gonna be awful hard to bet against Ryan Lawler again, unless Corey Williams keeps pulling rabbits out of his hat
at will. Those two, and maybe Preston Peltier, will duke it out for the title."

"If Corey Williams runs the full schedule, nobody will be able to touch him in the standings."

"Tim Nooner could top five the competition to death this year and I hope it happens.  Score one for the low buck racer!"

"Nobody expected Heath Hindman to win at Hickory last fall.  Now that they've seen that out of him, it wouldn't surprise anyone to see him up front this coming season."

"This could be a repeat of 2006 if Mike Rowe decides to run all of the races."

"Anyone can win this title."




USAR Pro Cup Champions Series

Our panalist really seems to like the USAR Pro Cup Series and what's not to love?  They've got high car counts, close competition, cagey veterans and up and coming rising stars.

"This is one of the best series in the world – not just the U.S. – in terms of depth of talent, schedule, championship format, and competition,"I’d rank the Pro Cup series second behind my home crowd [tour]. You could pick 25 cars to win at any race and be pretty close to correct. I’ll take a proven champion for 2008, but then again, most of them are."

Of course, picking a winner out of that group is usually a tall task.  It is even more difficult though giving the Pro Cup format of running a season in the Northern division, a season in the Southern division and then combining the best of both tours into a short "champions" schedule of races.

"The four race championship format makes picking a champion really difficult," warned one of our experts.

But picks were still made and six different racers received first place votes.  Bobby Gill, Matt Hawkins, Benny Gordon, Travis Kittleson, Gary St. Amant and Mark McFarland were all number one of someone's ballot.  Hawkins got the most first place votes, but Gill scored no lower than fourth on anyone's ballots and took the top honors.

Power Rankings:

1.  Bobby Gill - 2.88 Rating
2.  Benny Gordon - 3.25 Rating
3.  Matt Hawkins - 3.50 Rating
4.  Gary St. Amant - 3.88 Rating
5.  Brandon Ward - 4.88 Rating
6.  Mark McFarland - 5.00 Rating
7.  Travis Kittleson - 5.25 Rating
8.  Mike Garvey - 5.44 Rating
9.  Woody Howard - 5.50 Rating
    Michael Ritch - 5.50 Rating

Selected Comments From The Voters:

"Bobby Gill proved last year that the great ones never forget how to win."

"Matt Hawkins learned a lot in 2007 and could have enough to lead the charge in 2008."

"Travis Kittleson will take to Pro Cup racing like a fish to water - say hello to your 2008 Champion."

"How can you bet against Benny Gordon?  Well, normally that would be a good appraoch to picking a champion, but with this many great drivers in the mix, you can't even say that this time around."





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