Speed51.com Short Track Power Rankings
A 51 Exclusive - and Tradition
schedule and stole the crown in the final laps of the final race.  One pair of those smart eyes belonged to none other than Roger Penske, who has signed Allgaier to a contract to race in the NASCAR Nationwide Series next year.

“Impressing Roger Penske helps. Not colliding with fellow ARCA title contenders helps more,” wrote one of our panelists.

3.  Dan Fredrickson (ASA MW) - Performing well is good.  Performing well against a talented crop of racers week in and week out is even better.  That is what Dan Fredrickson did this season in the ASA Midwest Series.  He's always a contender and he's always out front it seems.  He also captured three ASA MW races this year including the prestigious Oktoberfest 100 at Lacrosse to close out the season.  In doing so, he also earned the series championship.
It's time again for the Speed51.com panel of supposed experts to put their heads together and make a ruling on who the most powerful short track star in the land is.  We've cast our ballots and tallied the results, and without further ado, here are our results:
1.  Scott Hantz (CRA) - Hantz started out the season by winning the first two CRA Super Series races and he just didn't look back from there.  When the dust settled, Hantz had locked down the series championship, which he more or less clinched with one race left on the schedule.  He won a total of four races along the way and put up quite a fight against Cuppers Kyle Busch and David Stremme, and their lightning quick professional pit crews, in the Winchester 400.  That's all-powerful stuff and why our judges gave Hantz a comfortable victory in this version of the rankings.  Comments like this one is what swayed the panel:

“He's the first 3-Time CRA Champion - having the best year of his career with the championship, wins, and ALWAYS a contender anywhere he races in 2008 - finally getting the recognition he deserves.”

2.  Justin Allgaier (ARCA) - As the ARCA season wound down, most eyes were on the Roush-backed Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Red Bull favorite son Scott Speed when it came to the championship battle.  But as those two literally took each out of the running, the smart eyes were on Justin Allgaier - who won the final three events on the
Matt Hirschman has been on fire in 2008 and now he's got our panel saying that they want to see what this guy can do in a car with fenders on a regular basis.  ARCA, Camping World Series and Pro Cup owners, are you listening?

6.  Patrick Laperle (ACT) - Talk about coming through in the clutch.  Laperle thought that his first few races of the ACT Late Model season sucked and was concerned about any hopes of a championship.  But late in the season, he won a bunch to make those odds seem better. 
Even on the morning of the season finale at Thunder Road he admitted to Speed51.com that his chances of winning the crown looked pretty slim.  But he drove his heart out anyways and ended up winning the Milk Bowl for the third time (getting to kiss a real live beauty queen cow again in the process).  When the dust settled, Laperle had taken the title by a single point over Scott Payea.  Three ACT-sanctioned wins in a one-month span, and three bovine kisses in the last four years?  That will get you into the tower of power.

7.  Benny Gordon (Pro Cup) - We were getting a little concerned that Benny Gordon might sweep the four-race USAR Hooters Pro Cup championship portion of the schedule this year, but then Jay Fogelman won race number three at Southern National this past weekend.  Still, Gordon is solidly in command of the series - and he won three of the last four Pro Cup North races in 2008 and that championship.

Things have been looking up for Scott Hantz all season long in his #72 Super Late Model.  (51 Photo)
When it came to dominating the second act of the 2008 PASS North season, Johnny Clark pretty much stood alone with his #54.  (Jamie Williams Photo)
4.  Johnny Clark (PASS North) - Johnny Clark poured on the power late in the PASS North Super Late Model season.  After a mediocre early part of the year, nobody really expected Clark to be capable of making up enough ground to win the title, but from the halfway point on, he was nearly unstoppable.  A flat tire ended a dominating run at All-Star Speedway, but victories at Wiscasset, Beech Ridge, and Riverside made up for that.  In the final race of the season, he wrestled the crown away from many time PASS North champion Ben Rowe and upstart Travis Benjamin.  It is Clark's third such championship of his still relatively young racing career.

5.  Matt Hirschman (Mods) - Why is Matt Hirschman powerful?  Is it because of his pair of NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victories over the summer?  His runner-up finish in the WMT standings?  His capture of the RoC Modified title despite missing two events?  His performance in open Modified shows?  His pair of top six finishes in his first two career NASCAR Camping World East Series races?

How about just checking off the box that says “all of the above”?
Ted Christopher hoist his hardware up high.  (Jim Dupont Photo)
8.  Ted Christopher (Mods…and sometimes a few other forms of racing) - “Wasn't it just two years ago when he wondered where his next ride would come from?” asked one of our panelists.  Well, he really only wondered for a few days before hopping into Ed Whelan's Modified and winning their first race together. Now, in 2008, TC won his first Whelen Modified Tour title for the team on the basis on hammering the competition with four victories.  He clinched the title in style too - by winning the World Series at Thompson.  We wouldn't expect anything different from Teddy.

9.  Brian Campbell (ASA LM/CRA/SLM) - He's won in the ASA Late Model Challenge Series, he's won in the CRA Super Series, he's won on familiar turf at his home track of Berlin and at big facilities like The Milwaukee Mile and Bristol Motor Speedway…and he's won the hearts of our expert panel, who voted Campbell into the top 10 of the Tower of Power.

10.  Alex Haase (PASS South) - Three PASS South victories and the series point lead has shown that Alex Haase is able to seal the deal with the equipment that NASCAR superstar Kyle Busch provides him. 

11.  Jason Hogan (ASA SAT/SLM/PLM) - Hogan has taken control of the ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour, where he's won the last three events on the schedule.

12.  Augie Grill (SLM/PLM) - He's been winning big down in the Deep South.  Our panel is noticing, but is anyone else?  One of our experts asked, “Why isn't this guy in (one of the) NASCAR (big three Series) yet? I just don't understand it.”

13. Eddie Hoffman (ASA LM/SLM) - Not much to say here.  Hoffman goes to the track and he wins races and championships.  So 2008 has been just another year with another Championship (the ASA Late Model North crown this time) for Mr. Consistency.  We don't expect anything less from him.
14. Ryan Crane (Blizzard/SLM/PLM) - Five victories this year, and a pair since Labor Day, has made Crane's 2008 season one to remember…and one for our panel to notice.

15. (Tie) Billy Decker (DIRT) - Winning the Super DIRTcar crown and nine features along the way is plenty of power for our panel to recognize.

15. (Tie) Johanna Long (PLM) - The Pro Late Model title at Pensacola's Five Flag Speedway (FL) and a bunch of wins both there and at nearby Mobile International Speedway got our panel's attention.

Honorable Mentions -

Randy Cabral (NEMA) - This Maximum talented Midget racer was considering quitting racing after losing his best friend Shane Hammond in a season-opening wreck at Thompson. He finished the year winning four races including three in a row, one of them being the final race for the title at Thompson's World Series of Speedway Racing. He is the first driver to win three in a row since Jeff Horn in 1993.

Jerry Coons, Jr. (USAC) - Leading USAC Sprint and Silver Crown points, six Sprint wins, and recently won his first midget race of the year.

Peter Cozzolino (ASA LM) - The long-time short track veteran broke through powerfully to win the 2008 ASA Late Model Challenge Series championship.

Frank Cozze (DIRT) - Cozze recently won the biggest race of DIRT Modified racing - the Rite Aid 200 at Syracuse.  We sure see the power in doing that.

Josh Hamner (SLM) - He's not racing as much as he'd like to right now, but when Hamner does hit the track, he makes it count.  Just look at his record in the Blizzard Series this season.

Colt James (ASA LM) - The Texan put up a strong battle against Jimmy Lang for the ASA LM South championship, but even winning 30% of the races, including the season finale, couldn't close the gap.  “Show me a driver who does more with less, the kid just flat out drives hard,” wrote one panelist.

Clint King (Pro Challenge) - He won the final four Pro Challenge South races, two of the last three Pro Challenge North races and one of the three PC Playoff races to date.  King has been quite a force in those powerful little racecars this season.

Jimmy Lang (ASA LM) - He won exactly half of the ASA Late Model South Series races this year and the championship.  A little rough at times, but man the kid just drives the wheels off a car.

Jay Middleton (ASA SAT) - Winning a trio of ASA SAT races and the inaugural championship showed our panel some strength.

Phillip Morris (LMSC) - Beating out hundreds of grassroots racers to win the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National title is a powerful act.