The race season is slowly getting going and that means that it's time for our first 2009 regular season version of 51's Short Track Power rankings. We've had Florida Speedweeks, the NASCAR All-Star Showdown, SpeedFest, the Rattler and more take place and here are how the racers all stack up in the eyes of our panel of experts.
1. Ted Christopher (Mods) - 3.44 Rating - We're not quite sure if Ted Christopher flexed his power muscle early this season more by winning a pair of indoor TQ Midget races against some strong open wheeled competitors or be being the force in the Tour-type Modifieds at New Smyrna. But that combination of accomplishments put him far out front in our Short Track Power rankings.
Over half of our panel voted Christopher as their number one on this ballot. With Christopher entered in this weekend's NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour opener at Concord Speedway (NC) and a title-defense campaigns in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season ready to kick off in a few weeks, Christopher might be able to show even more power in our next set of rankings.
2. Augie Grill (SLM) - 4.56 Rating - Augie Grill skipped January's SpeedFest at Lanier National Speedway and he never heads down to Florida Speedweeks, but the Alabama ace more than made up for all of that by showing some serious power over the Rattler weekend at South Alabama Speedway. Grill crossed the finish line first in the Pro Late Model feature, only be lose the race in the tech line. On the next day though, he sailed to victory in the 250-lap Super Late Model main event and passed tech with flying colors this time around.
Grill received only a single number one vote from our crew, but on the other hand he was only out of the top three vote-getters on three of the ballots cast.
3. Matt Hirschman (Mods) - 7.78 Rating - He might not have a ride yet on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, but Matt Hirschman has shown that won't slow him down. It looks like 2009 is shaping up to be another season where Hirschman shows power in everything he does enter. So far, he won a feature at New Smyrna during Speedweeks and the ASA Modified season opener at Orange County Speedway (NC).
4. David Rogers (SLM) - 8.11 Rating - It turns out that three competitors from the Super Late Model ranks of New Smyrna's 43rd annual World Series of Asphalt Short Track Racing received enough votes to be included in this edition of Short Track Power. But nobody did it better down in Florida this year than David Rogers. The Orlando, Florida driver showed some serious power by winning pole after pole all week long and wrapped it up by capturing the Pete Orr Memorial 100 and the Speedweeks Super Late Model championship. That is a display of power.
5. Jimmy Blewett (Mods) - 9.72 Rating - There is nothing more powerful than sweeping a series of races and that is exactly what Jimmy Blewett did in the SK Modified division at New Smyrna's 43rd Annual World Series of Short Track Racing. True, the field in the division was a little thin, but Blewett still needed to beat Bobby Grigas, Frank Ruocco and Kenny Horton at various points in the week - which he did with ease.
6. Jeff Choquette (SLM) - 10.00 Rating - The 43rd Annual World Series of Asphalt Short Track Racing started out on a powerful note for Jeff Choquette. He won four of the first five Super Late Model features during the week, but had the wheels fall off his wagon near the end of the series. Choquette lost the championship on the last night, but still made his mark on Speedweeks.
That got the notice of our panel.
“Choquette had the best car/driver combo at Speedweeks,” wrote one of our voters.
7. Wayne Anderson (SLM) - 10.44 Rating - He's won during Florida Speedweeks at New Smyrna and he's already won on the ASA Southeast Tour. He has also won the hearts of our voters. We're talking about your seventh place ranked Wayne Anderson ladies and gentlemen and he's tearing up the tracks of the Florida Super Late Model ranks already this season.
8. Pat Ward (DIRT Mods) - 10.56 Rating - There were some tough customers on hand when the DIRT Modifieds invaded Volusia Speedway Park during Florida Speedweeks, but Pat Ward won the first two races of the season and showed some serious power in doing so. That was good enough for him to receive one first place vote for our experts and rank very high on a few other ballots, but because his winning took place on dirt, he was left out by many other voters - leaving him towards the back end of the top 10 in this edition of Short Track Power.
9. Matt Kobyluck (CW East) - 11.94 Rating - Back in January, Matt Kobyluck won the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale and our panel hasn't forgotten about that fete. Kobyluck gathered a number one vote this time around in our Short Track Power rankings and placed mid-pack in the majority of the ballots. His title defense in the NASCAR Camping World East Series starts next month at Greenville-Pickens Speedway (SC).
10. Donny Schatz (WoO Sprints) - 11.06 Rating - It's just another season of Schatz showing strength in the World of Outlaw Sprints and our panel recognized that in voting for this edition of Short Track Power.
11. Ryan Lawler (SLM) - 11.56 Rating - Lawler ranked high all because of his performance in the Rattler 250. He contended for the victory, but got caught being a spinning lapped car on the final lap and lost a few positions by the finish line.
“He should have been second at Rattler and will be a multi-time winner in Super Late Models this year,” wrote one of our voters.
12. Bubba Pollard (PLM/SLM)- 11.89 Rating - An official victory in the Rattler Pro Late Model race and a strong runner-up finish in the Rattler 250 Super Late Model feature showed some power to our panel.
13. Drew Brannon (ASA LM) - 12.11 Rating - The Limited Late Model championship and a victory in the ASA Late Model South division opener got Drew Brannon the notice of our panel of experts.
14. Brian Ickler (CW East/SLM) - 12.78 Rating - Brian Ickler's appearance in the Short Track Power rankings is all potential. He “should have won Irwindale,” wrote one of our experts. He also could have won the Rattler. Ickler showed signs of power already this year and could show a lot more in Camping World East and ARCA.
15. (Tie) Ronnie Silk (Mods) - 13.22 Rating - Ronnie Silk might have been the darkhorse of Short Track Power this time around. He's been in contention to win the ASA Modified race at Orange County and the Richie Evans Memorial at New Smyrna. He won a feature of Florida Speedweeks, despite only making three starts there.
15. (Tie) Steve Francis (Dirt LM) - 13.22 Rating - Steve Francis has been a force in Dirt Late Models already this year. He's already got a pair of wins even at this young point in the season.