Speed 51’s 2009 Short Track Draft: Three Near Misses
The Ones We at 51 Thought Our Panel “Whiffed” On
A Speed51.com Original
Throughout the course of this week’s Short Track Draft here on Speed51.com, we’ve made a good number of football references when it comes to our panel’s top draft picks.  But we’re going to switch sports real quick to our National Pastime to describe a few racers that didn’t make it to the big draft board. 

It’s baseball’s basic principle – three strikes and you’re out.  Our esteemed short track racing panel didn’t quite take notice of three drivers, leaving all three “struck out” of the Draft.  While 32 insiders voted for both the main Short Track Draft and the Underclassmen Draft, there were three shocks that we, the insiders of the Speed51.com Mafia, couldn’t believe didn’t make the cut.

But, there were some reasons that our panelists, upon further review, pointed to when it came to why these drivers didn’t quite make it onto the draft.  Were there more drivers that didn’t make it onto the Draft?  Of course…but these three were the biggest surprises of them all.  The rest that didn’t make it onto the Draft will be included in next week’s “Best of the Rest of the Short Track Draft” feature on Speed51.com.

Here's our three big "near-misses," in alphabetical order...

Daniel Hemric - Legends Cars
“They call him Flipper, Flipper, faster than lightning…”

Yep, that’s the theme to the old “Flipper” TV show, but it’s also the perfect way to describe 18-year-old Daniel Hemric.  When it comes to Legends Car racing, you name it – he’s won it, then done a backflip Carl Edwards-style in victory lane afterwards.  He doesn’t just win one race a weekend, either.  He’s been known to go from the Charlotte area, to Georgia, even to Florida or wherever there’s a race to win over the course of a weekend, wining two, three or even four races at a time.  He’s got an early overwhelming lead in this year’s National Points for the Pro Division (the toughest of all the Legends Car divisions these days) and is the prime candidate for a title at the Summer Shootout.  But Hemric’s success goes beyond the Legends ranks, too, as he scored a top-10 finish in his first ever ASA Modified Tour start last season. 

So why didn’t he make it onto the draft?  Well, because he’s been so dominant in Legends Cars, many of our panel thought he was still under the age of 18, the cutoff point for the main draft and the Underclassmen Draft, so some of our panel left him off one list or the other because they were unsure of his age.  Now that he’s officially 18, if he comes up with another big year in 2009, expect him to be on next year’s Short Track Draft without any confusion.

Pros: Marketable and friendly, Hemric knows how to win and win often.  Perfecting the backflip has given him a fan following in the scale car world.

Cons: Needs to keep trying out the “big car” scene.  Legends wins and padding the stats are great, but they will only take you so far if you’re not succeeding in Late Models, Modifieds or anything bigger than a Legends Car.

Will Kimmel - Super Late Models / ARCA
We’ve talked a bunch about “bloodlines” in this year’s Short Track Draft, and here’s another driver that’s sure to make his family name visit victory lane for many more years.  Twenty-year-old Will Kimmel, son of ARCA RE/MAX Series Champion Crew Chief Bill Kimmel and nephew of nine-time ARCA titlist Frank Kimmel, has already added Super Late Model Championships to the family mantle at a tough place to do so – Salem Speedway (IN).  In fact, he won his first SLM race in his first start. He’s a consistent threat on the short tracks in his SLM, but he’s even been competing well in the place his dad and uncle first made the Kimmel name famous – ARCA.  He had a strong run going Daytona earlier this year, only to get caught up in one of the numerous “big ones.” 

Here’s another kid whose age cost him a shot at the Draft.  Even though he’s 20, some of our panelists still thought he was under the age of 18, giving him Underclassmen votes instead of putting him in with the over-18 bunch.  That undoubtedly was the deciding factor for not having him as part of the top-51 picks.

Pros: Kid’s got the look of a champion already.  He’s tall, good looking and well-spoken – a marketing dream.  Plus he’s got a dad and uncle in his corner that can teach him how to win on short tracks and speedways alike.

Cons: Limited funding prevents him from running a more consistent ARCA schedule.  If the economy has limited his nine-time champ Uncle Frank’s efforts, it’s sure to affect Will’s, too. 

Derek Ramstrom - Super Late Models
Seventeen-year-old Derek Ramstrom is the “boy wonder” for many New England full-bodied car fans and media – and deservedly so.  Ramstrom won his first-ever PASS North Super Late Model race in 2008 at All-Star Speedway (NH), beating two of the best SLM racers you’ll find – Mike and Ben Rowe.  He backed it up with a couple of Super Late Model weekly show wins at Thompson Speedway (CT), too.  The kid from outside of Worcester, MA isn’t afraid to do some traveling outside of New England, either, as he and his family team have trucked to a few PASS South races over the last three seasons, too.  A top-10 Underclassmen pick in 2008, Ramstrom’s stock only dropped because of his close proximity to being 18, leaving some voters stumped on which category to put him in. Plus, the way he runs in the tough New England SLM scene, it’s hard to believe the kid’s not even 18 yet.

Pros: Knows how to get it done without the big-budget extras that some other teams are running these days.  It’s just him and his dad and a couple volunteers often spanking veterans with full-time help.

Cons: He’s starting to break out of his shell a bit, but he’s still on the shy side.