51's Short Track Power
Ranking the Best Out There - a 51 Original and Tradition
Rankings compiled from the voting of a panel of experts.  Story text by Mike Twist
There were over 60 different drivers who received votes in this edition of the Speed51.com Short Track Power rankings.  It was a pretty diverse group too.  Each of the top-10 drivers in this edition got there primarily because of their accomplishments in a different series or form of racing (yes, we know that both Ryan Truex and Eddie MacDonald are NASCAR Camping World East Series drivers, but MacDonald's big win of the summer came in the TD Banknorth Oxford 250 Late Model race).

There wasn't much regional bias this time around either.  Our podium finishers consist of a Southern boy, a Jersey boy and a Midwestern racing veteran.

Without any further ado, here are our power rankings.

1.  Bubba Pollard (SLM and PLM) - 7.23 Rating, Last Poll: 1st - Once Bubba Pollard got over the hump of finally becoming the top pick in our Tower of Power, he apparently liked the view - because he has kept winning and once again earned the highest score once all of our voters' ballots were tallied.  Pollard has been doing a little bit of racing, and a lot of winning, all throughout the Deep South.  He has absolutely terrorized the competition in the Viper Series at South Alabama Speedway, he is the champion of the shortened CRA South season, he's won in the Blizzard Series and he's won in the Mobile Miller Lite Super Late Model series.

But now it is the time of year when victories are becoming a little less important and titles are being thought about.  Well, Pollard might have them covered there, too.

“Let's stop counting wins and start counting championships,” wrote one of our voters.  “CRA South isn't really one you can count, but the Viper Pro Late Model Series title is already locked up by Pollard who has won all six races this year at South Alabama Speedway.  On top of that, Pollard leads in the Gulf Coast Championship Series as well as both the Blizzard Series and the Miller Lite Series.   Four Championships in a year might lock him in as the driver of the year.”

2.  Ryan Truex (CW East) - 8.15 Rating, Last Poll: Unranked -  Ryan Truex is a rookie in the NASCAR Camping World East Series.  He is also a teenager.  In the past, that combination usually meant that a good year consisted of making all of the races, only replacing a few clips and earning experience.

And then came Joey Logano, who shattered all kinds of records as an East Series rookie.

Since then, nobody is allowed to have much of a learning curve in the series.  But that is quite all right with Ryan Truex.  The younger brother of NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Martin Truex, Jr. and the son of former NASCAR East Series race winner Martin Truex, Sr. has adapted quite well in his first year of racing on the tour.  He has swept both road course events, almost won at New Hampshire and did win at Thompson.

Truex has also taken the series point lead and looks to run away with that over the course of the final two series races of 2009.

“Hands down the biggest surprise in 2009 is the growth of this young driver,” wrote one of our voters.  “Even if he is a brother to a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star, he still has proven that he is the real deal with three wins in nine starts in the NASCAR Camping World East Series.”

3.  Steve Carlson (ASA MW, ASA LM and SLM) - 8.69 Rating, Last Poll: 3rd - Steve Carlson would probably rank high on our Tower of Power just on the basis of his record on the ASA Midwest Tour.  That is where he currently has four victories on the season.

But when you also take into account  the fact that Carlson has won in the ASA Late Model Series this season, that really earned the notice of our panel of voters.  It also earned him a podium finish in this edition of the Power Rankings.

Here are what some of our voters wrote about Carlson:

“Some drivers get better with age and it looks as if Steve Carlson is one of those drivers.  He's 83 points of the lead in the ASA Midwest Tour, despite having missed one race his four wins have him contending for the title.”

“Carlson is back to his old form...a threat to win every time he pulls through the back gate.”

“He's tough wherever he's at.”

4.  Scott Hantz  (CRA and SLM) - 9.77 Rating, Last Poll: 29th - Scott Hantz is one of the few short trackers out there who can brag about going head-to-head against Kyle Busch's potent Super Late Model and win.  He's eyeing another championship in the CRA Super Series this season and with a pair of points victories to his name so far this year, that looks to be within his reach.  But that isn't all that Hantz has been winning.  For more, check out our voters comments:

“A win at Toledo has him on top of the points once again in the CRA Super Series.  He also won a big Outlaw Late Model race at New Paris Speedway earlier this month.”

“He has won six races the last three weeks in two types of late models.”

5.  Parker Kligerman (ARCA) - 10.15 Rating, Last Poll: 8th - Earlier this year, people were wondering where Parker Kligerman came from.  After winning five ARCA RE/MAX Series races this year, we are now wondering where he is going next. 

“Five ARCA wins has him among the best in any level of racing thus far in 2009,” wrote one of our voters.  “He may have slipped back to second in the points, but if he can finish the same way he started then getting the points lead back should be any problem at all."

6.  Ross Kenseth (Big 8 and ASA LM) - 11.00 Rating, Last Poll: Unranked - Before he became a NASCAR Cup Series champion, Matt Kenseth was a terror on the short tracks of the Midwest.  It turns out that his teenaged son Ross Kenseth is cut from the same cloth.  He is batting an amazing .750 in the Big 8 Series this year and won the ASA Late Model feature at Rockford.

“The rate at which Ross Kenseth is being brought along by his father, Sprint Cup Series Champion, Matt Kenseth is very satisfying,” wrote one of our voters.  “The young driver may have already out grown the Big 8 Series after several wins.  His ASA Late Model North win also solidified his ranking in our poll.”

7.  Eddie MacDonald  (LM and CW East) - 11.31 Rating, Last Poll: Unranked - We're not entirely sure why Eddie MacDonald didn't get more votes for in this edition of the Short Track Power rankings.  He's currently second in points to the powerhouse Michael Waltrip racing team in the NASCAR Camping World East Series.  That is impressive.  But his victory in the TD Banknorth Oxford 250 Late Model race in July was historic.  MacDonald captured the victory in one of the biggest short track events anywhere without breaking a sweat.  Now that is powerful.

“Is there anything that he can't run up front in?” asked one of our voters.

8.  Donny Schatz (WoO Sprints) - 11.38 Rating, Last Poll: Unranked - We don't normally cover a lot of World of Outlaw Sprint Car races on Speed51.com, but Donny Schatz has recently done something so incredible that our voters couldn't help but to notice.  Schatz won his fourth consecutive Knoxville Nationals race - an incredible accomplishment.

9.  Ryan Preece (WMT) - 11.77 Rating, Last Poll: Unranked -  After back to back victories on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Ryan Preece has found himself right in the middle of the championship battle.  Normally, it takes decades of experience to become a force in the world of Modifieds.  But Preece is still in his teen years!  We expect to see much more from this young man in future Short Track Power rankings.

10.  Brian Hoar  (ACT) - 12.08 Rating, Last Poll: Unranked -  Brian Hoar is right back at home on the ACT Late Model Tour after spending time in what is now the NASCAR Camping World East Series.  Hoar is already the winningest driver in ACT Late Model history.  Back-to-back victories at Beech Ridge and Waterford padded that total a bit.

11.  Patrick Laperle (ACT and ACT Quebec, Last Poll: Unranked -  12.38 Rating - Hoar's Canadian counterpart, Patrick Laperle, finished right in his tire tracks in this edition of Short Track power.  To see why Laperle is here, check out two of our voter comments on him:

“Three wins in ACT CASTROL, second place in Oxford 250, three wins in World Series and leads ACT Castrol points.”

“After a strong showing at the TD Banknorth 250, Patrick Laperle has backed it up with two straight wins in the ACT Castrol Tour.”

12.  Preston Peltier (PASS South and SLM) - 12.54 Rating, Last Poll: 19th - With three victories in PASS South competition and a slew of winning trips to victory lane in the Pro Late Model division at Concord Speedway (NC), Peltier has been enjoying a powerful summer.

13.  Ben Rowe (PASS South and North) 12.62 Rating, Last Poll: 12th - Ben Rowe has four PASS Super Late Model victories this year - split evenly between PASS North and PASS South.  He's leading the points in PASS South and trying to keep Johnny Clark honest by staying within shouting distance of the PASS North point lead.

“He's not winning as much as earlier in the year,” wrote one of our voters.  “But he is still in the thick of it.”

14.  Johnny Clark (PASS North) - 12.77 Rating, Late Poll: 33rd - Johnny Clark enjoys a very healthy lead in the PASS North standings thanks to victories at Speedway 95, Unity and Lee.  At this point, it looks like he might be on way his to another series title.

“It's all over in PASS North but for the shouting,” wrote one of our voters.

15.  Daniel Hemric (Legends) - 12.92 Rating, Last Poll: Unranked - Daniel Hemric has won an amazing 41 races in 59 starts so far this year.  That isn't just powerful - those are numbers worth of short track legends like Dick Trickle or Richie Evans!

16.  Tim Fuller (DIRT and WoO Late Models 13.00 Rating, Last Poll: Unranked - Fuller has been the master of dirt this year. He scored four WoO Dirt LM wins in a row, plus a Super DirtCar Series Modified victory at Canandaigua.

17.  TJ Reaid (ASA SAT and PLM) 13.08 Ratin, Last Poll: 35th - A pair of victories in both the Georgia Asphalt Series and ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour have made for a good summer for TJ Reaid.

18.  Bobby Santos, III  (USAC) - 13.15 Rating, Last Poll: Unranked - Santos was the USAC winner at Richmond, IRP and Irwindale.  He has also won in Sprints, Midgets and Silver Crown cars this year.  Will someone give this kid a big-time ride?

19.  Mike Rowe (SLM) - 13.31 Rating, Last Poll: Unranked - Mike Rowe has won five Super Late Model races at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (ME) this year.  He is leading the points at that track by such a powerful margin that he could take a week off and still be in front.  That's powerful.

20.  Augie Grill  (SLM and PLM) - 13.42 Rating, Last Poll: 20th - Frankly, we are scratching our heads on why Grill was not ranked higher by our voters this time around.  He has won in the Blizzard Series at Five Flags Speedway.  He's won in the Miller Lite Super Late Model Series at Mobile.  He's gone head-to-head and beat Short Track Power winner Bubba Pollard a few times too.  Yet he just barely squeaked into the top 20 of our Tower of Power. 

The Best of The Rest…

21.  Ted Christopher  (WMT and More) - 13.46 Rating, Last Poll: 4th

22.  Andrew Ranger  (NASCAR Canadian Tire Series) - 13.58 Rating, Last Poll: Unranked

23.  Clay Rogers (Pro Cup) - 13.62 Rating, Last Poll - 9th

24.  Tom Scully, Jr. (PASS North and SLM) - 13.69 Rating, Last Poll: Unranked

25.  Matt DiBendetto (CW East) - 13.87 Rating, Last Poll:26th

26.  Justin Lofton (ARCA) - 13.88 Rating, Last Poll: Unranked

27.  Chase Elliott  (GAS, PLM, SLM) - 13.92 Rating, Last Poll: Unranked

28.  Jimmy Mars (Dirt LM) - 13.93 Rating, Last Poll: Unranked

29.  Alex Yontz  (UARA and LMSC) - 14.00 Rating, Last Poll: Unranked

30.  Steve Park  (CW East) - 14.05 Rating, Last Poll: Unranked

31.  Jay Fogelman  (PASS South) - 14.06 Rating, Last Poll: Unranked

32.  Brad Leighton  (ACT and CW East) - 14.07 Rating, Last Poll: Unranked

33.  George Brunnhoelzl, III (WSMT) - 14.08 Rating, Last Poll: 16th

34.  Keith Rocco (SK Mods) - 14.15 Rating, last Poll: 10th

35.  Nokie Fornoro (NEMA) - 14.16 Rating, Last Poll: Unranked

36.  Brian Campbell (ASA LM and SLM) - 14.22 Rating, Last Poll: 2nd

37.  Jon McKennedy  (TVMRS) - 14.23 Rating, Last Poll: Unranked

38.  Jason Bowles (CW West) - 14.25 Rating, Last Poll: 14th

39.  Eric Holmes (CW West) - 14.30 Rating, Last Poll: Unranked

40.  Joey Pole (ACT) - 14.31 Rating, Last Poll: 6th

Honorable Mentions -  Travis Adams (LM), Jody Lavander (CW East), Kyle Benjamin (Pro Challenge), Andy Shaw (PASS Mods), Drew Brannon (ASA LM), Josh Hamner (ASA LM), Randy Turner (PASS North and SLM), Matt McCall (UARA), Corey Williams (PASS South), Matt Sheppard (DIRT), Pete Harding (ASA NW) and John Donahue (ACT)

Steve Carlson
Ryan Truex
Preston Peltier
We didn't even have to change our first photos from last month's Short Track Power feature.  It's still Bubba on top!
Parker Kligerman
Eddie MacDonald
Patrick Laperle
Johnny Clark
Steve Park
Augie Grill...and his team
Jon McKennedy