This edition of the short track Power Rankings had one of the closest finishes ever. But why talk about it instead of just getting to the heart of the matter? So here it is, our early July edition of the Speed51.com Short Track Power rankings:
1. Bubba Pollard (SLM and PLM), 8.09 Rating - It took awhile, but Bubba Pollard has finally topped the Speed51.com Tower of Power. Early this season, Pollard was battling Ben Rowe, Ted Christopher and Drew Brannon for the top spot. But while those three have seen their seasons cool a bit in the past month, Pollard has kept on winning. He might have a new crop of contenders chasing him like Steve Carlson, Brian Campbell and Parker Kligerman, but for now our judges rewarded Pollard's consistency with their votes.
The battle was close though - Less than half a point separated the top four in the Tower of Power standings. We can't remember such a close battle.
Here are a few comments on Pollard's effort from our judges:
“He keeps on knocking out top five finishes in some big series and big events. Pollard leads the Blizzard Series, and the overall Gulf Coast Championship Series. He also will be going for his fifth in a row this weekend at South Alabama Speedway in the Viper Pro Late Model Series.”
“Recently named, due to the suspension of the remainder of the season, as the CRA South 2009 Champion Bubba Pollard has been unstoppable this season. With one Blizzard Series win at Five Flags Speedway, one Miller Lite Super Late Model Series win at Mobile International Speedway and no finishes worse than third at either track this season Pollard leads the Blizzard Series points, and the Gulf Coast Championship which includes both of the two tracks, and is only one point shy of the lead at Mobile behind Augie Grill. Outside of the panhandle, Pollard has a perfect score of 400 in the Viper Series Pro Late Model points at South Alabama Speedway where he has won every event this season and plans to keep that winning streak alive at this weekend's Timber 100.”
2. Brian Campbell (CRA, ASA LM and More), 8.64 Rating - Brian Campbell takes a shotgun approach to racing. He doesn't focus on one series or even run one car. Instead, he picks the races most appealing to him and enters those. You might think that lack of focus would hurt, but for Campbell is it quite the opposite. He usually just wins in whatever he straps into. Our panel rewarded him with a pair of first place votes. More impressive though was the fact that he was ranked somewhere in the top ten on close to 75% of our ballots this time.
Here is what our voters had to say about Campbell:
“Lately, Brian Campbell has been a threat wherever he races but the most impressive of those finishes would be beating out Kyle Busch to win the Rowdy Busch 125 at his home track of Berlin Raceway. Campbell is currently second in ASALMS points.”
"Campbell has been on it since the start of June. A pair of wins at Berlin and an ASA Challenge victory at ORP have made him one of the best in the last 30 days. He also came up one spot short at Rockingham for all of those who say he can only get the job done at cretin tracks. He had never raced at “The Rock”.”
3. Steve Carlson (ASA MW, ASA LM, SLM & More), 9.45 Rating (Tie Broken by First Place Votes) - Winning three of the last four events on the ASA Midwest Tour would probably give Steve Carlson a perch very high up on the Tower of Power. But an additional victory in the ASA Late Model Series North race at LaCrosse helped his case even more - giving him a podium finish this time around. Carlson wins so much that he makes it look easy. That is especially impressive considering that Carlson races against some of the toughest customers in the Midwest on any given weekend.
Here is what one of our voters had to say…
“Three wins on the ASA Midwest Tour and another with the ASA Late Model North Series has him as one of the hotter Late Model drivers right now.”
4. Ted Christopher (Mods and More), 9.45 Rating (Tie Broken by First Place Votes) - Earlier this season, Ted Christopher won everything in sight - races on both NASCAR Whelen Modified Tours, races at Speedweeks and races in a TQ Midget just to name a few. Lately, his victories have been limited to the SK Modifieds at Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) and a shot at winning the Mod Tour race at New Hampshire ended with TC being put into the wall within view of the finish line. But Christopher is still showing the power, even when he doesn't win.
Here is what our experts had to say about him this time around:
“He is as hot as the June/July weather we're having.”
“TC has been the man to beat in 2009 when it comes to Modifieds. The stats may not show much as far as recent success, but he's on the top of everyone's list of guys who they want to beat each week at the track.”
5. Matt McCall (UARA), 10.91 Rating - It's hard to dominate any series, let along the UARA-Stars. Last year only two drivers won more then once and 14 different drivers went to victory lane. This year Matt McCall has already won three times including four pole positions. Currently, McCall is leading the UARA-Stars points and has proved to be a force in the series this season.
6. Joey Pole (ACT), 11.00 Rating - Joey Pole is not currently leading the ACT Late Model Tour points, but he is fresh off a win at Thunder Road last month int eh non-points Governor's Cup race. We expect him to be a big contender at another non-points race later this month on Route 26 in Oxford, Maine. That is the TD Banknorth 250 folks and this 20-year-old racing up and comer is one of the favorites going into that storied event.
7. Johanna Long (SLM and PLM), 11.73 Rating - Proving that her season-opening victory in the Blizzard Series at Five Flags Speedway (FL) wasn't a fluke, Long won Round Three recently at the track. She's also visited victory lane at nearby Mobile Speedway and if fan support was the deciding factor, Long would be standing tall atop the Tower of Power. We're interested now in seeing how this Teen Racing Queen takes to the heavier cars of the ARCA RE/MAX Series as she attempts her debut there. If a recent test, where Long placed in the top 10, is any sign, she'll be just fine.
JoJo's recent PASS efforts had her slip in the polls this time around, but along the same lines it's good to see that Freddy Query and Donald Long are taking her to new venues so she doesn't get sail on the Florida Pan-Handle.
8. Parker Kligerman (ARCA) 11.82 Rating - With support from Penske Racing, 18-year-old Parker Kligerman has made his presence known in the ARCA RE/MAX Series this season. He has won in three of his last four races and is currently leading series points. However the asset that sets him apart from the competition is his rookie status. Kligerman is a rookie in the truest since of the word; the only track he had ever seen before he began his 2009 ARCA RE/MAX schedule was Toledo where he got his first series win in May. Learning and winning at the same time is a pretty powerful thing and for that, Kligerman earned a top 10 rankings from our voters. He even scored one first place vote in the poll.
9. Clay Rogers (Pro Cup), 12.00 Rating - Clay Rogers has been carving them up, in a powerful way, every time that the USARacing Pro Cup Series hits the track. He has three wins in the last four starts and in all honesty he should have won his fourth straight at Lanier.
10. Keith Rocco (Mods), 12.09 Rating - “Kid Roc” is currently leading the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National points - something that hundreds of drivers are trying to do. He continues to light up the SK Modified divisions at the Connecticut tracks of Thompson, Waterford and Stafford. His triumphs include beating TC in a much talked about photo finish at Stafford recently.
11. Adam Bates (PASS North), 12.17 Rating - Bates showed some major power by winning the recent PASS North race at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (ME) and taking the point lead in the process. PASS North has long been the playground of the Rowes and the Clarks, but third-year driver Bates is serving notice that he's one of the top dogs in the New England-based Super Late Model series these days.
12. Ben Rowe (PASS North and South), 12.23 Rating - Is Ben Rowe in the Power Rankings because of his point leader status in PASS South, which has come despite running three different cars for three different teams this year, or is it because he's won a pair of PASS North races as well. Come to think of it, Benji has also won a pair of PASS South races. Well, it really doesn't matter why our voters think like they do, but rather that they think that way. Here is one of their comments on Rowe:
“He has two top fives with an antique in PASS South this weekend and could still easily win three PASS SLM titles.”
13. Brandon Johnson (ASA LM), 12.27 Rating - It is possible to win one race and make it into the Speed51.com Short Track Power rankings - especially if that one race is won on the high banks of Rockingham Speedway. That is where Brandon Johnson made a name for himself on Saturday by winning the ASA Late Model Series event there. Johnson held off none other than Brian Campbell to take down the victory.
14. Jason Bowles (CW West) , 12.36 Rating - It's too easy to forget about the West Coast players in short track racing sometimes, but it's almost a crime to overlook what Jason Bowles in doing in the NASCAR Camping World West Series this season. He's won three races - including the last two on the schedule. That's powerful stuff.
15. Josh Richards (Dirt LM), 12.50 Rating - 21 year old Josh Richards, whose father is Mark Richards (co-owner of Rocket Chassis), is the current World of Outlaws Late Model points leader with 12 wins and 25 top fives in 46 races thus far in his 2009 season. Those stats may not sound like much to the naked asphalt ear until you learn that the smallest field of cars in any of those events was 30 cars, which most asphalt late model series would love to see. Richards also competed in one NASCAR Camping World East Series race this year in a car fielded by Ken Schrader Racing at Greenville Pickens Speedway in April where he advanced from a 17th-place starting position to fourth while awing spectators and competitors alike with his smooth driving style, braking, and fearlessness to challenge the high groove, all knowledge drawn upon from his dirt experience. Richards has tested with Venturini Motorsports and plans to run the ARCA RE/MAX Click It or Ticket Buckle-Up Kentucky 150 at Kentucky Speedway next weekend.
16. George Brunnhoelzl, III (WSMT), 12.73 Rating - A sleeper maybe, but GB III has been on rock solid all season in the on the Southern Modified Tour. After his first win of 2009 and the points leads people might actually start taking him seriously now as we hit the summer months.
17. Drew Brannon (ASA LM), 12.82 Rating - Brannon has won a total of four ASA Late Model races so far this year, but has slipped a bit in recent week. Still, his latest victory came on May 9th and when did you win your last race?
18. Nathan Haseleu (ASA MW), 13.00 Rating - With names like Carlson, Frederickson, Wimmer, Schendel and Goede all running for points, there might not be a toughest tour in the land than the ASA Midwest Tour. Yet while Carlson grabs the headlines, it is former champion Nathan Haseleu who currently leads the standings. He also has one victory this year and ranks within the top 20 on our Power rankings.
19. Preston Peltier (PASS South), 13.09 Rating - Peltier has won three of the last six PASS South races, but his take-no-prisoners style of racing sometimes might have turned off some of our voters. After all, it wasn't too long ago when he managed to tick off close to the entire starting field of the PASS South race at Wake County Speedway (NC). Still, we love excitement and we hope that Preston doesn't change up things one bit.
20. Augie Grill (SLM), 13.19 Rating - “Back-to-back Snowball Derby Champion” is an intimidating title in itself but when coupled with a name synonymous with short track success like Augie Grill, the stakes are raised even higher for the competition. With numerous wins this season, Augie Grill is a force to be reckoned with at whatever track he chooses to run.
The Best of the Rest…
21. Jay Fogleman (PASS South)
22. Paul Kelley (PLM)
23. Chris Wimmer (ASA MW)
24. Justin Wakefield (PASS South)
25. Brian Ickler (ARCA, CW East, SLM)
26. Matt DiBenedetto (CW East)
27. Jacob Goede (ASA MW)
28. Travis Adams (LM)
29. Scott Hantz (CRA)
30. Marty Ward (LMSC)
31. Tim McCreadie (DIRT LM)
32. Mike Kugler (CRA)
33. Johnny Clark (PASS North)
34. Jimmy Mars (Dirt LM)
35. TJ Reaid (PLM)
36. Max Gresham (ASA SAT)
37. Andy Shaw (PASS Mods)
38. Andy Seuss (WSMT)
39. Nick Murgic (ASA MW)
40. Donny Lia (WMT)