Speed51.com Short Track Power Rankings
A 51 Exclusive - and Tradition
3.  D.J. Shaw (PASS North and More) - Shaw is looking to gain maximum exposure this year for his young career.  He's venturing to many big national Super Late Model shows with his #60 team and might even show up in a few NASCAR Camping World East Series events in 2009 as well.

Shaw has leaned how to win from a great teacher - his father and car builder, Dale Shaw.  The elder Shaw has won in ACT, PASS and what was then the NASCAR Busch North Series.  We expect that teenaged DJ will win wherever he runs as well.

“Some people might not see the talent here because he's overshadowed by his old man,” wrote one of our experts.  “The fact is that DJ Shaw can drive.  With a new car in place this season the question won't be can he contend for the PASS series title, but will he win the series title?” 

“He was a threat to win weekly before,” said another of our experts.  “He now has the experience, a great crew.  Starting with SpeedFest he will show them all he is just not the son of a great car builder and crew chief.
The 2009 racing season will kick into gear this weekend with the running of two big short track events on opposite sides of the country.  Out in California, the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown while SpeedFest 2009 gets the party started for Pro Late Model and Super Late Model teams at Georgia's Lanier National Speedway.

So when the green flag drops, who is expected to be the most powerful players of them all in 2009?  Speed51.com gathered our own big dogs to cast their votes and share their comments on that and as a result, we present the pre-season edition of our long-running and exclusive feature, the 51 Short Track Power rankings.  Here they are:
1.  Dan Fredrickson (ASA MW) - The ASA Midwest Tour is one of the most competitive forms of short track racing in the country.  To win a championship, you have to beat a Wimmer and a Sauter.  You need to gather more points than veterans Nathan Hasleau, Donny Reuvers and Tim Schendel.  To win races, you often have to go toe to toe against Steve Carlson.  And finally, there are talented youngsters like Jonathan Eilen, Nick Murgic, Jamie Iverson and Andrew Morrissey to dispose of as well.

Yet in 2008, nobody did any of that better in ASA Midwest than Dan Frederickson and there is no reason to think that he won't be able to pull off a repeat performance in 2009.  Our panel sure seems to think so since they overwhelming voted him into the top spot of the 51 Short Track Power poll.

This comment from one of our experts seems to say it all, “Defending his ASA Midwest Tour championship won't be easy, but Fredrickson should have another solid season.”

2.  Matt Hirschman (Mods) - NASCAR Modifieds, Race of Champions Modifieds and open shows.  Matt Hirschman won races in all of those disciplines last season.  He did that while running for three different teams as well, showing that while good equipment is a must for success in racing, it is even more important for the guy behind the wheel to be ready to win.

Hirschman parted with one of those teams for 2009, but our experts don't think that he'll miss a step.  We expect him to be running up front whenever and wherever the Modifieds hit the track - from New Smyrna's Speedweeks in February through the Turkey Derby at Wall in November.
4.  Augie Grill (SLM) - With a second straight Snowball Derby victory fresh in his mind, Augie Grill will start out his 2009 season at SpeedFest this weekend.  He's figured out this Super Late Model game pretty well and has a stranglehold on the big races in the deep South.  So how will he fare when the best in the country gather for SpeedFest?  Pretty well, thinks our panel of experts.

“2007 and 2008 Snowball Derby Champion, 2008 Alabama 200 winner, and half a dozen wins over the last 13 months make him an A list pick to win any race,” wrote our of our panelists.  “It's not a question of when will he win more race, but how many more races will he win?” 

5.  Patrick Laperle (ACT) - He's been called the best Canadian import since Molson and when it comes to delivering on the bullrings of the Northeast, Quebec's Patrick Laperle comes through.  He won the 2008 ACT Late Model title by a single point and also
Is Dan Frederickson the most powerful racer in the land?  Our panel thinks so.
Augie Grill
captured the biggest race of the season - The Milk Bowl at Thunder Road.  Of course, he wants to repeat those tasks this year (although you can never tell if Laperle is going to chase series points until a few races into any given season), but at the same time Laperle has another big victory in his sights.  He won't be happy until he wins the TD Banknorth Oxford 250.  Laperle will get his season started at Florida Speedweeks in the crate Late Model division.

“After winning the ACT CASTROL Series title in 2007 and then the ACT Tour title in 2008; his third Milk Bowl; the inaugural ACT Showdown at Chaudière Patrick and the Laperle Racing team are going outlaw racing in 2009,” said one of our panelists.   “They will pick and choose were they compete leaving the points game to others.  Starting with Speedweeks in the 43rd World Asphalt Series competitions he is rumored to have been approached for a Truck ride at NHMS and a NASCAR Nationwide Series ride at his hometown Montreal.  A return to the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series and PASS is not ruled out either.”

“One might look at this pick and wonder why Laperle is number one,” said another panelist who placed Laperle as their top choice.  “The fact is there is nothing different about this up coming season for Laperle.  ACT is the focus and the Banknorth 250 is the only thing he has not won in the Northeast.  Laperle in my opinion will not only win the 250, but he will also win the Milk Bowl again making him just the third driver to do so.  Dave Whitlock did it in 1995 and Dave Dion did it in 1975.”  
Ted Christopher hoist his hardware up high.  (Jim Dupont Photo)
6.  Ted Christopher (Mods) - Ted Christopher has one thing that nobody else on this list does already - a victory in the 2009 racing season.  He kicked off his year early by winning last weekend's Gambler's Classic Midget race in Atlantic City.  He's also ready to defend his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship this season and compete regularly in a Late Model at Stafford.  We expect to see him run some Super Late Model races and maybe even a few NASCAR Camping World East Series events as well.  And of course, there is some SK Modified racing in store for him no doubt. 

We don't know how often TC will race in 2009, nor does he, but we do know one thing.  Whenever and wherever he straps into a racecar, he'll be capable of showing some big time power and will be a threat to end the event in victory lane.

7.  Johnny Clark (PASS North) - It seems that every other year is when Johnny Clark will win a PASS North championship.  He won the crown in 2008, so traditionally, he won't repeat the task in 2009.

But that's just hogwash in our eyes.  Clark came on so strong in the second half of the 2008 season that there is no way that momentum can't carry on into the new season.  He'll have some tough competition in PASS with Ben Rowe, Cassius Clark, DJ Shaw, Derek Ramstrom, Adam Bates and Travis Benjamin all chasing him, but we'd be fools to bet against Clark rising to the top again this year.

“Clark himself would joke with you and say it's an odd year so it's Ben Rowe's turn to win the PASS series championship,” wrote one of our experts.  “Looking at the history, the 2004,2006 and 2008 PASS Champion loses his title defenses to Ben Rowe.  This might be the year to bet that that will not happen again.  However, the series is creating new talent drivers each season like Adam Bates, Trevor Sanborn and DJ Shaw.”  
8.  Eddie Hoffman (ASA LM, CRA and just about anything with fenders) - The ASA Late Models are acknowledged as being a great place to develop young talent in racing and looking at some of the series graduates, it's hard to argue that point.  But then again, the baddest and most feared racer of them all isn't some young pup.  Nope, that pit bull goes by the name of Eddie Hoffman and he's another driver who is a threat to win wherever he goes.
“The old man will beat up the young kids again in the ASALMS North,” predicts one of our panelists.

But you can't just fear Hoffman in ASA Late Models.  He'll run on other tours too, including the CRA Super Series, and he's tough to beat at all time.  That's powerful stuff.

9.  Matt Kobyluck (CW East) - There's been a lot of change over the past few years in the Camping World East Series.  For one, there have been the name changes to what used to be Busch North and then Busch East.  Secondly, veterans like Dave Dion, Jerry Marquis and (for the most part) Kelly Moore are gone.  Finally, many of the once young guns have graduated on in the sport - guys like Joey Logano, Ricky Carmichael and Peyton Sellers are now in the big three series of NASCAR and away from the short tracks.  A few drivers like them have run out of luck, talent or money and just got out of the racing game.  Change has been constant.

But one thing has stayed the same.  Matt Kobyluck and his #40 team are still in the trenches fighting the good fight.  They were rewarded with a championship in 2008 and the more things change in the series, the stronger Kobyluck should become.  We expect him to repeat in 2009, with possibly even stronger numbers.

“Changing times will probably see him repeat,” wrote one of our experts.

“He would be my bet on the guys most likely to repeat as champion in their division,” wrote
another panelist.  “The only reason he is lower in the poll in because he will have to overcome
a spending spree by new Camping World East teams.  Whether they beat him, wreck him or
out-cheat him it could be a dangerous road to repeat.”

10.  Brian Campbell (ASA LM and SLM) - Brian Campbell is a barnstormer, and a very good
one at that.  He'll win wherever he goes and doesn't chase points.  Several big victories in 2008
give him a good outlook for this season even if he is starting the year with a relatively new team.

“Wins at Milwaukee, Bristol and the All American 400 will make him a big target in 2009,” wrote
one of our experts.

11.  Jean Paul Cyr (LM) - After defining success in ACT Late Models for many seasons, Jean
Paul Cyr will stick close to home and try to pummel the competition on a weekly basis at
Thunder Road Speedbowl (VT).  The track is a tough one to dominate at, but if anyone can do
it, Cyr is the man for the job.  If he pulls it off, that will be one powerful thing.

“JP Cyr; after competing and successfully winning 7 ACT championship the Vermont veteran is
“slowing down” his schedule,” wrote one of our panelists.  “He will compete in Baja bike races
and will compete weekly at Thunder Road in the Late Models.  He has great chances of capturing
a track championship.

12. Tim Schendel (ASA MW) - Our panel might have voted Dan Frederickson as the pre-season Power Rankings favorite, but Tim Schendel leads the pack when it comes to guys who will try to keep him in check. 

13.  Scott Hantz (CRA) -  Here is one guy who isn't afraid to travel to big shows and then go head-to-head with some of the biggest names in racing.  Scott Hantz, the 2008 CRA Super Series champion, will rub fenders with guys like Kyle Busch and David Stremme.  He's powerful enough to beat them too.

14.  Jake Crum (UARA) - At the tender age of 17, Jake Crum won last year's UARA-Stars title.  With another year of experience under his belt, he should be even more powerful this coming season.

15.  Austin Dillon (CW East) - The grandson of Richard Childress is ready to move up the racing ladder, but first he'll be looking to lay down some big numbers in the NASCAR Camping World East Series this year.  Our panel gives him a fighting chance of being able to pull that off.

Ted Christopher
Matt Kobyluck