Three of the top four in this edition of the short track Power Rankings made up the top three in the rankings last month - but none of them are in the same positions. In addition to those shuffles, we only find that Drew Brannon and Johanna Long made the top 15 last time in the Tower of Power and returned in that same countdown this time around. What's with all of the shake-ups? Well, it's racing season baby! This is when the pretenders and the contenders are seperated and that is exactly what our panel of experts, from all over the country, have done.
So here it is, our May edition of the Speed51.com Short Track Power rankings:
1. Ted Christopher (Mods) - 5.92 Rating - We already knew that Ted Christopher has won on both NASCAR Whelen Modified Tours, at Florida Speedweeks and in TQ Midgets this season. He has been ranked high in our past few Power rankings because of those facts. But add to it this past month's accomplishments of winning the Race of Champions season opener and in the SK Modified division at Stafford and he proved to be unbeatable in our Tower of Power.
All of those facts were duly noted by our panelists. Christopher finished first on nearly one quarter of our ballots.
“Christopher keeps his momentum going after beating out Matt Hirschman in the RoC Modified feature,” wrote one of our experts. “The night before he won the SK Modified Feature and finished second in the Whelen Modified Tour race at Stafford.”
Yes, there was one big race there where Christopher got beat, but not everyone can be perfect.
“TC came up short on the Tour, but an SK Win at Stafford, RoC win at Oswego and another third at Lancaster on Sunday... He's still riding the wave,” wrote one member of our voting assembly.
2. Drew Brannon (ASA LM) - 6.69 Rating - 2009 has been a breakout season for Drew Brannon. He's been extremely strong in the ASA Late Model South Series, where he has won three out of four races (the only one he lost was to 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year Landon Cassill). But the true test of Brannon's power was how he fared in the ASA Late Model Challenge Series opener at The Milwaukee Mile.
Brannon passed that test with flying colors - winning for the SS Motorsports team led by mentor Butch Miller.
“Brannon keeps on winning in both the ASA LM South and the ASA LM Challenge,” wrote one of our voters. “The combination of Butch Miller and Drew Brannon is going to go alone way in 2009, the future is bright for Brannon.”
3. Ben Rowe (PASS) - 7.15 Rating - Usually an athlete performs better when they enjoy home court advantage, but in Ben Rowe's case it is when he has hit the road so far in 2009 when he has performed the best - and that is a powerful thing.
Rowe leads the PASS South standings currently on account of a pair of victories. He's also racked up a strong second-place run in the latest series race at Wake County Raceway (NC). Meanwhile, Rowe ended a bit of a slump in his home, the PASS North Series, with a victory at White Mountain over the past weekend.
“Finally a win in PASS North has this driver possibly eyeing both the PASS North title and PASS South championship in the same year,” wrote our of our panelists.
Even a panelist who has Modified tendencies ranked Rowe high on his list this time around.
“Always strong in the Super Late Model stuff,” was the comment that accompanied that vote.
4. Bubba Pollard (SLM) - 7.31 Rating - It's almost easy to forget just how many times that Bubba Pollard has won this season. He's basically been a terror in Pro Late Model and Super Late Model events throughout the Deep South whenever he buckles his racing harnesses.
Yet he is only ranked fourth on the Tower of Power this time around. Since Pollard has a number of loyal…almost rabid…fans, the conspiracy theories will no doubt start to fly as they did during the recent Speed51.com Short Track Draft.
But we can offer a simple solution - while Pollard is strong throughout the Deep South, he rarely ventures out of his safe area. Ted Christopher, Ben Rowe and even Drew Brannon have won in various parts of the country this season. But if it isn't Georgia, Alabama or the Florida Panhandle, you won't see Pollard race there. Pollard received almost as many first and second place votes as Ted Christopher this time around, but he was also left completely off over a quarter of the ballots turned back in.
To conquer a land, you first have to venture out to all of that land.
But those who did put Pollard on their hit list, placed him high.
“Let's look at the facts going into this weekend why Pollard is number one,” wrote one member of our panel. “He has won five races in 2009. He leads the Gulf Coast Championship Series points, he leads the CRA South points and he leads the Viper Pro Standings at South Alabama. Need we say more? “
5. Scott Hantz (CRA…and more) - 10.54 Rating - Currently, Scott Hantz is the King of the Midwest. Of course the defending CRA Super Series champion is strong in that setting, but he's also been winning all over the place as well.
“In one week's span he won a CRA Super Series Event at Winchester, Outlaw Late Model Gold Cup Race at Toledo, and a Big Outlaw Late Model Show at Angola,” wrote one of our panelists.
6. Joey Pole (ACT) - 10.85 Rating - Young Joey Pole has developed into one of the top guys in New England racing this season. He might only be 19, but he's been driving like a veteran. He used the high line to victory lane at Oxford - a place where only angels, Ricky Rolfe and Eddie MacDonald usually tread. He also came within 20 laps of winning at Thunder Road this past weekend before dipping two wheels off the pavement and going for a wild, and unwelcome ride off turn three.
7. Justin Lofton (ARCA) - 11.15 Rating - On the basis of a victory at Talladega and several strong finishes, Lofton is the current point leader in what could be the top driver development series in the land right now.
8. Johnny Clark (PASS) - 11.23 Rating - Johnny Clark has won two out of the four PASS North features contested so far in 2009.
“He won at Unity a few weeks back and has some of his best tracks coming up,” wrote one of our panelists. “Clark has never won back-to-back PASS North titles, but if he were to pull it off this season he would tie Ben Rowe with four PASS North Series Championships.
9. Paddy Rodenbeck (UARA) - 11.31 Rating - Paddy Rodenbeck used to dominate the Legends car world. Now, he is on track to do the same thing in the Late Model Stock Car ranks. Rodenbeck won the UARA-Stars race at Concord and nearly won the UARA-Stars race at Tri-County this past weekend.
10. Chris Wimmer (ASA MW) - 11.46 Rating - Chris Wimmer passed cars over the closing laps of the ASA Midwest Tour race at Iowa Speedway like there was no tomorrow and when he won the race, it was a very powerful thing. Backing that up with a strong result at Elko this past weekend didn't hurt his standing with our panel either.
11. Jimmy Blewett (Mods) - 11.69 Rating - Jimmy Blewett started out 2009 by sweeping all of the SK Modified features at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) during Florida Speedweeks. His latest accomplishment has been beating the seemingly unbeatable Ted Christopher in the recent NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at Stafford Motor Speedway.
“Showtime has 12 wins this season (some against smaller fields) but still he's a force in Modifieds this year,” wrote one member of our panel. “He's recently won at Wall Stadium and at Stafford in a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race. He seams to be peaking."
“He's been running strong lately,” wrote another panelist. “He has a couple of Wall wins, with the Stafford win... He's back to being 'Showtime'!”
12. Max Gresham (ASA SAT) - 11.85 Rating - Max Gresham has been the surprise of the ASA Southeast season so far. He's won at Mobile and Dillon. He currently sits second to veteran Jason Hogan in the series point standings.
“He has two wins this season on the ASA Southeast Tour and he's making his first Camping World East Series start at South Boston Speedway this weekend,” wrote one of our experts.
13. Johanna Long (SLM) - 12.62 Rating - Last month, Johanna Long was ranked fourth in our Tower of Power. This month, it rained. Yes, Long hasn't lost her grasp on the Super Late Model and Pro Late Model world of the Gulf Coast, but the fact that last weekend's planned double in the Blizzard Series at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola and the Miller Lite Super Late Model Series at Mobile International was postponed by one week due to rain probably made her a little bit faint in the minds of our panel this time around. Watch them eat a little crow on Monday if she excels in one or both of those shows this weekend.
“Johanna Long has recently turned 17 and she's the best female prospect in racing today. In fact she's one of the best prospects period,” wrote one of our panelists. “Long won last month's Blizzard race and has been pretty much washed out of every event since. She did finish second in a Pro Late Model a few weeks ago.”
14. Daniel Hemric (Legends) - 12.62 Rating - Legends cars might be little in size, but one driver has posted some pretty big numbers in the form of racing where more current stock car superstars got their start than any other place. Hemric doesn't have a big budget, but he sure delivers some powerful results.
“Has won nearly 20 races in the Legends Pro ranks this season,” wrote one of our panelists.
15. Steve Carlson (ASA MW) - 13.08 Rating - “Simply one of the best racers to ever strap into a car,” is what one of our panelists wrote about Steve Carlson.
How can we argue with that fact?
Carlson is hard to beat whenever he enters a race, with his latest big score coming in last weekend's ASA Midwest Tour event at Elko Speedway (MN).
The Rest of the Top 40….
16. Clay Rogers (Pro Cup)
17. Scott Payea (ACT)
18. Kyle Benjamin (Pro Challenge)
19. Johnny Van Doorn (CRA)
20. Brian Ickler (CW East)
21. Andy Seuss (Mods)
22. Ross Kenseth (LM/SLM)
23. Keith Rocco (Mods)
24. Donny Schatz (WoO Sprints)
25. Eric Holmes (CW West)
26. Chris Staples (PASS North)
27. Pat Ward (DIRT)
28. M.K. Kanke (SRL)
29. Parker Kligerman (ARCA)
30. David Rogers (SLM)
31. Alan Tardiff (CW East)
32. Matt McCall (UARA)
33. Bruce Thomas, Jr. (LM)
34. Dave Shullick, Jr. (Supermodifieds)
35. Drew Herring (Pro Cup)
36. Brian Hoar (ACT)
37. Nathan Haseleu (ASA MW)
38. Jason Feger (Dirt LM)
39. Jack Landis (LM/SLM)
40. James Buescher (ARCA)