Website 101 is a new program where you can get a cool, custom-designed website by 51 Sports and manage it yourself (click here for more). So in honor of that number, here are the “101 Best of the Rest" in the 2009 Short Track Draft. This includes all ages; underclassmen, regular draftees and some older guys (just because some folks forgot the rules of 29-and-under). It also encapsulates people who received votes and some who did not. Again, this has been tabulated by 32 different panelists/experts/scouts… whatever you wish to call them. Every one of the 51 staff is on the panel, but that leaves 26 others outside of our realm. Please enjoy! If you don’t agree with names on or left off the lists, we appreciate your opinions, but life is a matter of opinions and not all of them mesh. If you care to make your opinion heard, do so at Motorsports Lounge (click here).
The following names are sorted by alphabetical order only.
Anderson, Jordan, 18 – Dirt Late Models / Legends
After two back-to-back Legends Championships in the Pro division in the Summer Shootout Series at Lowe's Motor Speedway (NC), Jordan Anderson has decided to get dirty. With backing from Humpy Wheeler's new company, Anderson is now trying to advance his career in the Dirt Late Models scene.
Pros: Finally got out of Legends Cars. He is an extremely polite kid under normal circumstances.
Cons: He might get sucked into being a dirt driver now, and that might hurt his chances at being in NASCAR.
Arpin, Steve, 25 – ARCA
This Canadian dirt-master has invaded the United States in the past few years – gaining experience driving a Super Late Model for Dennis Schoenfeld and winning the USAC Silver Crown Rookie of the Year title. He’s now making a home the in ARCA RE/MAX Series.
Pros: He’s made a lot of friends in high places during his dirt days – guys like Carl Edwards, Ken Schrader, Kenny Wallace and Bobby Labonte. He can definitely wheel a racecar and has good equipment in ARCA - driving for the powerhouse Eddie Sharp team.
Cons: Although he’s working on it, Arpin still has limited pavement experience. He needs to post some impressive pavement results to move up – one top 10 finish in ARCA (so far) isn’t enough.
Bacon, Brady, 19 - USAC
Brady Bacon isn’t exactly sizzling in the Open-Wheel world, but a lot of people know that the Broken Arrow, OK driver has talent. Chip Ganassi Racing and Kasey Kahne supported Bacon and his USAC Midget efforts in 2007 and 2008. Last year, Bacon won the BMARA Midget “Firemen’s Nationals.”
Pros: Catchy Name and boy-ish looks.
Cons: Needs to put up better numbers and needs some better interview skills.
Bailey, Jack, 26 - ARCA
Jack Bailey is a young driver from Stafford, Virginia who has cut his teeth in the asphalt Late Model racing world. Recently he ran full time in the Pro Cup Series where he scored two poles and had 14 top-10 finishes in 2006 and 2007. Last year he spent some time in the ARCA RE/MAX series as he looks to move to the next level.
Pros: Adapts well to new series quickly.
Cons: Needs to run for points if he’s going to advance at his age.
Barkshire, Jeff, 25 – CW West
West coast racer Jeff Barkshire turned heads in 2008 as he finished third in the series points and captured the Camping World West Series Rookie of the Year title. Unfortunately for Barkshire, funding though seems to be a problem for 2009, which appears to be forcing a limited schedule of racing this season.
Pros: Rookie of the Year honors is a good feat for a 25 year old. Has “the look” marketers are wanting.
Cons: Lack of funding and being on the "left coast" might hurt getting him noticed by big NASCAR teams.
Benjamin, Travis, 31 - Super Late Models
He’s too old for the Draft, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a good racer. The 31-year-old finished third in PASS North points last year with a victory. If he could snap off a few more victories, this person could be mentioned in the same breath as the Johnny Clark’s and Ben Rowe’s of the Northeast.
Pros: He’s a determined New Englander with a great personality and good driving skills to boot.
Cons: Too old for anybody in NASCAR’s “Big Three” to pay attention to.
Bilderback, Michael , 17 - LM/SLM
It hasn’t taken long for Michael Bilderback to make a name for himself. He’s won in the competitive Big 8 Series and is now looking to do the same thing in the ASA Late Model Series
Pros: Racing in the Midwest means having the chance to hone your skills against plenty of great competition. It also means that there are plenty of loyal fans will to adopt you and cheer you on to the next level.
Cons: It’s harder to win against tougher competition, so Bilderback’s numbers might not sound as impressive as those from talent-starved areas.
Bolen, John, 23 – Late Models / East Series
Bolen is a talented Late Model driver from Jasper, Alabama who has returned to racing full time after a brief period away from the sport. He scored two wins a year ago at Birmingham International Raceway (AL) before the track closed for good this Spring. Bolen also finished in the top-10 in points on the ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour in 2008 and has plans to do some Camping World East racing in 2009.
Pros: Has great relationship with chassis builders Frankie and Augie Grill, which gives him the some of the best resources available.
Cons: Can get into some hot water on the track.
Bonsignore, Justin, 20 - Modifieds
You might not be able to pronounce his last name, but people have been shouting all different forms of it throughout his racing career. Justin was a hotshot in the karting wars for years and now is running Modifieds on Long Island. He had nine top-5 finishes in 16 events at the tight Riverhead Raceway oval in ’08.
Pros: Like a lot of kids he’s got talent behind the wheel, but he’s got a good personality to boot.
Cons: He has to get off of Long Island to make a name for himself elsewhere if money allows.
Bozell, Phil, 26 – Super Late Models
This kid has made the most of every opportunity, while not having the bankroll to afford him too many opportunities. He provided one of the better feel-good stories in recent ARCA memory when he won the race at Milwaukee a few years back, but since then, he hasn’t been in the spotlight much. Instead, he’s been tearing up the weekly Outlaw Super Late Model ranks and making the occasional foray into ASA Late Model racing.
Pros: Friendly as all get-out, knows cars inside and out and can make the most out of every opportunity to go to the track.
Cons: Needs to race more, plain and simple. There’s no shame in being a weekly warrior racer, but if the next step is still in his plans, at 26, it needs to come soon.
Brown, Blake, 16 - Late Models / Legends
Brown was the 2007 Wisconsin State Champion in Legends Cars as well as the Young Lions National Champion after winning 24 races in 34 starts. In 2008 he ran the season-ending King’s Ransom 300 ASA Late Model race at Memphis Motorsports Park (TN) and finished third.
Pros: Turned a lot of heads after his run at Memphis.
Cons: Needs to run Late Models full-time.
Cabral, Randy, 29 - NEMA Midgets
Cabral won eight out of 17 NEMA Midget feature races in 2008. He also finished second in four other series features. When you consider that Bobby Santos, III (a guy who you just may have heard of) won the five other NEMA features last year, you can see that there wasn’t much left for anyone else to try and win.
Pros: There is a surprisingly high level of talent in NEMA Midgets, so Cabral’s stats are well-earned. Driving these lightning quick racecars has helped sharpen his skills too.
Cons: Lack of fendered experience. At age 29, the chances of Cabral moving up might have passed him by.
Cassill, Landon, 19 - ASA LM
What’s he doing here? Landon Cassill is the 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year, yet he has very limited plans to run in that series this season. Cassill has filled that racing void by entering, and winning, several Late Models events – including the ASA Late Model show at South Georgia earlier this season.
Pros: He is currently under contract with Hendrick Motorsports and has enjoyed great exposure to the major leagues already. He’s a nice and quiet personable young man.
Cons: Needs to be able to go out and race more often. Are there going to be any future openings at Hendrick? The stable seems awfully full already.
Caswell, Dale, 29 - IMCA Dirt Mods
What else can you say about a guy who wins nearly 25 races in a season? Dale Caswell will be too old to make our 51 Short Track Draft next year, but he’s a proven winner in the IMCA Dirt Modified world.
Pros: Has won over 45 features in the last two seasons.
Cons: He’s pushing 30, which to some is a turn off.
Cobb, Mitch, 18 – Super Late Models
Mitch Cobb is one of those drivers that might have his career stalled before it really got started. He was a contender in the 2008 Blizzard Series and sat on the outside pole at the Snowball Derby, but a lack of funding has forced him to rent out his ride on occasion. A bit more cash might be needed to showcase his talents.
Pros: He makes the best out of the races he runs by running near the front.
Cons: Needs coaching on how to conduct himself in interviews. He seems bored and disinterested.
Coby, Doug, 29 - Mods
People know Doug Coby as an accomplished Modified shoe, but might forget that he was also a terror in the old days of the Pro Stock (Super Late Model) division at Stafford Motor Speedway (CT).
Pros: Coby can be very aggressive and not afraid to stick his nose into holes on the racetrack. He’s also well-spoken and personable off the track. Has a white-collar career outside of racing to fall back on.
Cons: Time is running…and maybe already has run…out for this nearly 30-year-old driver. Doesn’t have money to bring to the table, which is a near-must in today’s racing climate.
Cope, Travis, 21 – Late Models
21-year old Travis Cope has the looks and the bloodline. His father, Mike Cope, was one of the most ferocious Short Trackers to come out of the Florida scene. Now, Travis is trying to make a name for himself in the Late Model world. In 2008, Travis won at Senoia Speedway in ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour action.
Pros: Talent, youth and good looks.
Cons: Needs to escape the Florida Short Track scene and needs more exposure.
Daniels, Cliff, 21 – Late Model Stock Cars
When Cliff Daniels does get in his Late Model Stock Car in UARA or local track racing, he has performed well in his Charlie Daniels Racing machine. The problem is that he hasn't quite shown what he can do on a consistent basis as he hasn't been in the seat of a car often during the last few years. More seat time will give him more exposure in the sport. He is rumored to be going ARCA racing this season a few times.
Pros: Is extremely well-spoken. His good looks and well-mannered approach is good for sponsors.
Cons: A limited budget with a two-driver team (his sister also races) just hasn't produced the exposure he needs to be considered a solid racer yet.
Darrah, Cody, 19 – Sprint Cars
You may not have heard much of Cody Darrah just yet, but if you follow dirt racing even from a distance, you’ve certainly heard of his uncle – Rick Eckert. Darrah scored five 410 Sprint Car wins in 2008 and had a couple good showings during Dirt Speedweeks at Volusia (FL) in February.
Pros: Good teacher in Unce Rick and is wheeling a powerful 410 Sprint at a few weekly tracks and looking to compete in the biggest Sprint Car series of them all, the World of Outlaws, more in 2009.
Cons: Eckert doesn’t have the cleanest reputation on dirt, so Darrah may have to prove that he can be fast without driving dirty.
Davis, Marc, 18 - East/ARCA/Nationwide
Of all the racers in the “Diversity Driver” category, Marc Davis has certainly garnered the most publicity. He’s lived up to some of it, but has fallen short on some, too. The former Joe Gibbs Racing racer had top-notch stuff, but wasn’t able to win an East Series race. On the upside, Davis was able to finish in the top-10 in points in his two years on the East Series and competed well.
Pros: Consistently strong behind the wheel. He’s also very humble yet well-spoken.
Cons: Hasn’t been able to win in a major touring series yet. He’s making the move to Nationwide and even has a Cup start planned without any major victories to his credit.
Davis, Steven, 24 - Late Models
Is one of the tougher drivers when it comes to running Late Models down on the Florida Panhandle and in Alabama. Davis won the 2008 Pro Late Model track championship at Mobile International Speedway (AL). He also is always a contender at South Alabama Speedway in Pro Late Model ranks.
Pros: Always has his equipment up front during the race.
Cons: Has had a few races taken away in post race tech, another one might label him as a cheater.
Dustin Delaney, 19 – CW East / ARCA
Dustin Delaney stopped playing in the dirt last season after wheeling a Dirt Modified and has found a home in the NASCAR Camping World East Series. He’ll also make some starts in the ARCA RE/MAX Series this year as well – debuting at Kentucky later this week.
Pros: Made the transition from dirt to asphalt racing very well; stays out of trouble on the racetrack and has Jamie Aube on his team to coach him in 2009.
Cons: The Camping World East is a crowded series, so it’s hard for a young talent to stand out.
Diercks, Justin, 29 – Super Late Models
Here’s a kid whom we thought could have it all a few years back. He hooked up with ML Motorsports a couple years ago and that was basically a bust. Now the former two-time NASCAR Midwest Series champ is in his last year of eligibility since he is 29-years-old.
Pros: Good looking guy with plenty of talent behind the wheel.
Cons: Hasn’t won, or for that matter, driven much in the past year to get noticed.
Dillon, Austin, 19 - Camping World East/Nationwide/Dirt LM
After a huge 2008 season in which he won a race and the Rookie of the Year title in the NASCAR Camping World Series East ranks, Dillon has emerged from just being known as Richard Childress’ Grandson. At 19, Dillon is the elder statesman in the RCR development driver stable, competing this year in the Nationwide Series and making select East Series and ARCA starts as he helps younger brother Ty and Ryan Gifford in their short track seasons.
Pros: Extremely personable and well-spoken, Dillon has all the aspects there for the big time: connections, talent and marketability.
Cons: His one East Series win came after the unofficial winner was disqualified, so a win on the track would be huge for his stock.
Dillner, Meghan, 15 – Pro Challenge/Late Models
Before last year, the daughter of SPEED broadcaster Bob Dillner, Meghan, wasn’t listed on anybody’s list. This year, she just missed the cut for the Underclassmen Draft with several votes from outside the 51 Mafia. She has proven to be fast in anything she has driven lately (Pro Challenge and LM Trucks in PASS) and will drive Late Models this year.
Pros: She is fast and a female; that is a good combination, plus she’s a very good speaker when interviewed.
Cons: She needs to finish more consistently and overcome the expectations that come with being Dillner’s daughter.
Eilen, Jonathan, 23 – Super Late Models
In 2008, Jonathan Eilen won the pole for the ASA All American 400. He also went to victory lane at Jefferson Speedway on the highly-competitive ASA Midwest Tour last year. He has finished top-10 in both of his seasons with the ASA MWT and won the series inaugural race in ’07. His family has a long history in Upper Midwest racing.
Pros: Has shown he can close the deal at times in a tough circuit and is a genuinely nice kid. He is running a circuit that promotes its drivers well.
Cons: Needs to produce more to be noticed, which means traveling outside of his domain.
Enfinger, Grant, 24 – SLM/ARCA
This young driver has been successful wherever he has raced so far in his career. He won the 2008 Rattler Super Late Model show and also finished in the top five of the recent ARCA event at Talladega. The cool thing about both accomplishments was that they came in his home state of Alabama.
Pros: Making the right career moves by moving to ARCA.
Cons: Can be too aggressive in the seat sometimes… just ask Wayne Anderson.
Faulk, CE, 22 - Late Model Stocks
In the Late Model Stock world everyone knows the name CE Faulk. A multi-track talent, Faulk has the credentials to annoint him as a solid contender wherever he races. In 2008 Faulk had 21 top five finishes in Late Model Stock competition.
Pros: Is getting good results with solid finishes.
Cons: Lack of wins in 2008 is keeping him off the radar by some.
Ferguson, Chris, 19 – Dirt Late Models
Chris Ferguson is tearing up the Dirt Late Model scene in the Southeast this year. At only 19 years of age, Ferguson is leading the Carolina Clash standings with a victory and a third-place finish in the first two races. He has also run well and out-qualified the best in the business in a couple of visits to the WoO Dirt Late Model tour.
Pros: Tall and good looking and if you watch the video on DirtOnDirt.com, you will see that he can drive a racecar.
Cons: Nobody knows much about him. His hero is Scott Bloomquist, so like Bloomer, he needs to make some more noise.
Foley, Jarrod, 17 - ASA SAT
Foley is one of the nicest kids you will ever meet at an ASA SAT event. Foley is a true born racer. One night, before a race at Southern National (NC), he cut his hand in a push-cart race with local fans, a testament to his competiveness. Foley has had some solid runs with the ASA SAT tour last year, including a career-best eighth at New Senoia.
Pros: Foley and his crew were almost tapped out at the end of 2008, but still found a way to finish the season in the top-10 in points on a shoestring budget.
Cons: Needs to win races to be a bigger factor.
Frederickson, Dan, 30 - ASA Midwest
We’re not sure if there is tour in the county that is more competitive than the ASA Midwest Tour… and Fredrickson won a championship there. He’s a hard-core, blue-collar racer who sadly probably won’t ever get a chance to show his skills in the Nationwide or Truck Series. Remember he’s not eligible for the draft since he’s already 30.
Pros: If you can win a championship in ASA Midwest racing, can’t you win one anywhere?
Cons: At age 30, is Frederickson no longer able to be a rising star? Plus he needed to polish his speaking skills.
Furr, Ross, 25 – Late Model Stock Cars
2007 UARA-Stars Late Model Stock Car champion Ross Furr might have went to victory lane once in 2008, but he has somewhat fallen off the map. He needs to produce this year to get back on the minds of the media. Plus, there needs to be an answer to the gremlins that keep on popping up since his championship run.
Pros: Series championship adds his name on a list of guys that can get it done. Good personality.
Cons: Many young racers in UARA might overshadow his chances at repeating and needs to overcome the gremlins that are haunting him since his championship run.
Gifford, Ryan, 20 - East Series/LMSC/Dirt Modifieds
While Austin and Ty Dillon are getting most of the publicity in the Richard Childress Racing Development camp, Gifford is likely poised to open some eyes in 2009. After a stellar dirt racing career, Gifford is making the jump to the Camping World East tour on a part-time basis in 2009, while continuing to get seat time in Late Models and back on the dirt.
Pros: Has great teachers in Childress, Mike Dillon and both Dillon boys and has a friendly demeanor that can take him far.
Cons: Not much asphalt experience yet may make for a year of getting his feet wet before he can be a consistent threat.
Glenski, Ryan, 16 – Late Model Stock Cars
After winning and dominating at times in Bandoleros, the Allison Legacy and Pro Challenge Series, Ryan Glenski was scheduled to drive David Stremme's Super Late Model this season, but sponsorship wasn't obtained. Now he is focusing on running a Late Model Stock in the UARA Series. Quite honestly, 51 is surprised he didn’t make it in the Top-25 Underclassmen.
Pros: Has a lot of talent behind the wheel and has an aggressive nature to get the job done. Does well with interviews.
Cons: Lack of backing might put Glenski on the outside looking in. Needed to get out of scale-car wars sooner.
Goess, Craig, 28 – ARCA
Legends Car standout Craig Goess decided a few years ago he wanted to advance his racing career, so he hooked up with Eddie Sharp Racing and drove a season in the Camping World East series before deciding this season to race in ARCA RE/MAX competition.
Pros: Goess is not happy unless he is winning, which makes him a very determined driver that will never give up on the car or the team.
Cons: Limited experience in big cars has caused a big learning curve for the nearly 30-year-old racer.
Grigas, Bobby, III, 27 – Mods
He’s won in Late Models and he’s won in Modifieds. Now Bobby Grigas, III is probably the driver most likely to score his first victory next on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
Pros: Very aggressive and there is never any question as to how hard he is working behind the wheel. With a few years of experience on the NASCAR Mod Tour, 2009 could bring some big things for him and his career.
Cons: Always seems to have bad luck bite him. Some of which is a result of his aggressiveness. Some of it is just plain bad old luck.
Grill, Augie, 32 – SLM / PLM
Even though he’s too old for our Draft, it’s tough to not include someone with the credentials of Augie Grill and some of our panelists did. The son of a chassis builder has back-to-back Snowball Derby wins and has won a ton of Super and Pro Late Model races throughout the Southeast over the last two or three years.
Pros: Can win the big races and knows his cars inside and out since he builds them himself.
Cons: For every race he’s won, he’s been DQ’ed out of seemingly just as many. That reputation is hard to shake.
Grissom, Kyle, 19 – Late Model Stock Cars
The son of NASCAR racer Steve Grissom, Kyle has been in the Late Model Stock realm the past few seasons. This year, he finished third in the UARA-Stars event at Rockingham Speedway (NC). He is a tall kid who has won at track like Hickory Motor Speedway, but his consistency has dropped off during the past year or so.
Pros: Lineage certainly doesn't hurt open doors in racing. He is savvy enough on the mic and has the muscle behind the wheel.
Cons: There are a lot of drivers using UARA to promote themselves. He might get lost in the talent pool unless the on-track success picks up.
Hall, Kyle, 18 – Late Model Stock Cars
There is one place Kyle Hall knows well: victory lane at Southern National Raceway Park (NC). He visited it six times in 2008 in his Late Model Stock Car. He is one of few Legends Car drivers that have moved up to Late Model Stocks and got it done right away. He is a former hot-shoe during the Lowe’s Motor Speedway Summer Shootout.
Pros: Another good lookin’ kid with some money, but not all it takes these days.
Cons: Needs to expand his racing horizon to other tracks… maybe the UARA tour.
Hammons, Parker, 17 - Late Models
Hammons has made the right call from switching from Legends to Late Models prior to his 18th birthday. Hammons won13 races in the Legends ranks a year ago and is quickly making headway in Late Models.
Pros: Has had a good start to the 2009 ASA SAT season.
Cons: Is a little shy, but once you open him he’s fine. A few workout sessions in the weight room would only advance his driving ability.
Hanks, Keeton, 19 – ASA Late Models
Keeton Hanks got the nickname “Cheatin’ Keaton” after getting DQ’ed twice out of the Snowflake 100 in the same weekend a few years ago, but since then, he has been treading water in the tough ASA LM ranks. Hanks has seen glimpses of success on a touring level, but has proven tough to beat at his home track in Nashville in recent seasons.
Pros: Has plenty of Late Model seat time for being only 19.
Cons: Hasn’t raced enough in recent seasons to keep his name on the minds of the scouts.
Harraka, Paul, 19 – Camping World West/SLM
It took a few years, but Paulie Harraka is starting to show the promise that has been surrounding him for a while now. Harraka won a stout 11 races in the West Coast Late Model scene and has competed well in his first season in the Camping World West series so far in 2009.
Pros: A proven winner on the West Coast, has marketability that few out West have.
Cons: He’s going to have to do some winning if he’s going to prove he deserves a shot beyond being a diversity driver.
Hasleau, Nathan, 31, ASA Midwest
Midwest Tour and Wisconsin Challenge Series championships in the same year! He has started out 2009 strong as well, winning the ASA MW opener at Madison. He’s also had a short tenure as one of Roush Racing’s Truck Series drivers.
Pros: He’s a proven winner and champion.
Cons: He is getting too old to make a move upwards in racing again.
Hill, Austin, 15, Legends / Late Models
A multi-time Legends Car champion in the last 12 months, Hill has proven he can get it done behind the wheel on the track. Hill won the 2008 Legends Semi-Pro Summer Shootout championship at Lowe’s Motor Speedway (NC). He then backed it up with a championship at Lanier National Speedway (GA). He recently ran his first Late Model race with ASA SAT and finished fifth.
Pros: Is practically fearless in the car. Has no worries other then going fast.
Cons: Like most Legends Car drivers, Hill is very rough on the track. That will not transition well to Late Models.
Johnson, Chris, 26 - CW West
After winning championships in Pro Truck divisions out in California, Johnson then took his winning ways the Super Late Model World were he won feature events at Irwindale Speedway. Now he’s in the Camping World West Series, where he scored a top 10 in only his second start in 2008.
Pros: Is a quick learner to each racing division he has run.
Cons: A full-time ride is the only way to get noticed if the big wins aren’t piling up in a part-time effort.
Jones, Blake, 12 – Legends Cars
After a successful 2008 season in Bandolero competition where he won the Thursday Thunder championship at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Blake Jones moved up to Legends Cars. He didn't take to the cars instantly, but after a few races under his belt, he has become a contender in every race he enters.
Pros: Mountain Dew sponsorship is big, especially considering the "Junior Nation" and the following that brings to the young driver. Is more advanced than many his age in Legends.
Cons: Needs to work on his interview skills a bit more. Also needs to worry about his career and not others around him in the same field.
Jones, Devin, 14 – Super Late Models
Small in stature, Devin Jones has made big noise over the last few seasons in Bandoleros and Legends Cars. This year he has moved up to run Super Late Models in the PASS South Series. Although the start of the season has been rough, he is looking to shake the bad luck and start getting solid finishes.
Pros: Very well spoken kid with his own style (very California). He stands out from the rest of the drivers for that mere fact, although he is small in stature. He aligned himself with veteran driver Jeff Fultz.
Cons: Has moved up quite quick in the sport. Performance is going to be key to overcome the age factor. He and his team need to remember that qualifying is one thing, the race is another.
Kasten, Rebecca, 18 - Super Late Models
Wisconsin has seen its fair share of racers come from its short tracks to make it to the big time, but 18-year-old Rebecca Kasten hopes to be the first female from the Cheese State to make it huge. Kasten’s been getting her name out there more and more by touring with the ASA Late Model ranks, but still races plenty close to home. She won a Big 8 Series feature last year at Golden Sands (WI).
Pros: Another “fast female,” Kasten has won at some big weekly shows at Madison and Wisconsin International.
Cons: When she’s left the Midwest, she hasn’t seen much success and has been a bit hard on equipment in doing so.
Kennedy, Ben, 18 – LM Trucks
Ben’s family knows a thing or two about racing; he is the grandson of Bill France, Jr. He is returning his family to its behind-the-wheel roots by racing a LM Truck in the FASCAR’s Truck Series at tracks such as New Smyrna Speedway. He has already won some races and is pretty consistent. He is the son of Lesa France-Kennedy.
Pros: Has a great personality once you get to know him and he is smooth on the racetrack. Has Mark Martin in his corner.
Cons: He’s a little nervous when first approached by cameras and he has a lot of people watching him because of his last name.
Kligerman, Parker, 19 – ARCA
Straight off the road course and into the world of stock car racing comes Parker Kligerman. In his ARCA RE/MAX Series starts this year, the Connecticut native has not finished outside of the top seven yet. He also leads the points at this early point of the season.
Pros: Has the backing of the Penske Racing organization – Roger Penske and Tim Cindric are usually great judges of talent.
Cons: With a high-profile ride comes high expectations. Can Kligerman live up to the hype? Also has limited stock car experience.
Landers, Jared, 27 - WoO
A top notch veteran driver who won five UMP DIRTcar Modified features earlier this season in the DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park (FL). Landers has ties to the Dillon family of Richard Childress Racing fame, as Austin Dillon has driven some of Landers equipment in the past.
Pros: Showed some muscle at Volusia, ties to Dillon Family help.
Cons: It’s getting late in the game for Landers who seems content to stay on dirt.
Laperle, Patrick, 33 - ACT/SLM
We think that the translation into French for the short track term “wheelman” could be “Laperle”. This wide-open racer gives it his all and every lap and is truly exciting to watch. He’s won the Milk Bowl a few times, won both the ACT Quebec Series and ACT Late Model Series championships and won features during Florida Speedweeks at New Smyrna.
Pros: It’s hard to find someone in short track racing with more raw talent. Has shown very well in big gatherings of racers – like the Mason-Dixon Meltdown, SpeedFest and Speedweeks at New Smyrna.
Cons: He’s getting too old to be noticed by talent scouts, there has been limited exposure for his accomplishments North of the Border, and sounds a little funny to us Americans.
Lefevers, Jesse, 21 - Late Model Stocks
A young stud on the Late Model Stock ranks in North Carolina, Lefevers recently went to victory lane for the first time in his career at the Hickory Motor Speedway. Normally he’s a regular at the Tri-County Motor Speedway just up the road from Hickory. Lefevers is a consistent front runner at the Hudson, NC track.
Pros: Won five races at Tri-County a year ago, this could lead to a breakout year in 2009.
Cons: Needs to win some of the bigger races in Late Model Stock competition.
Lehr, Blake, 18, Late Models / CW East
Another driver who is able to get the job done from the cockpit, Blake Lehr is a product from Florida who has driven everything under the Sunshine state sky. After winning an event in 2007 on the old Sunbelt Super Late Model tour, Lehr has made the jump to the Camping World East Series in 2009.
Pros: Is young enough to still attract attention from top-notch teams.
Cons: Camping World East season might have been a big jump so soon, as he’s yet to haul to a race in either of the first two this year.
Leicht, Kevin, 21 – Late Model Stock Cars
There was a time when Kevin Leicht was considered one of the top drivers in UARA-Stars competition, however his name has somewhat dropped off the map. His team is fielding a Late Model Stock for Megan Reitenour, but where does that put Kevin?
Pros: Has shown glimpses of talent in UARA after his cousin, Stephen Leicht opened the door.
Cons: With a development driver racing in the stables, is his driving career over? Family, like many these days, is short on the almighty dollar.
Lewandoski, Charles, 23 – Camping World East
Before young up-and-comers were the norm on the Camping World East tour, “ChaLew” was the kid trying to make a name for himself in the series. Lewandoski didn’t do it with a development deal or a ton of money, but instead took his mom n’ pop effort to some strong runs through the years, leading him to be the 2006 series “Most Improved Driver.”
Pros: Fast and knows the buisness. Out-qualified his full-time teammate with a part-time outfit in his Nationwide debut at New Hampshire last year.
Cons: Despite his best efforts to find rides using every trick in the book, Lewandoski doesn’t have the bankroll to keep in the seat more than a handful of times a year.
Lia, Donny, 28 - Mods
There is no arguing with Donny Lia’s stats in racing. Two years ago, he won the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship and last year he won at Mansfield as a rookie in the NASCAR Truck Series. Without a ride in Trucks this year, Lia showed that he isn’t just about moving up and moved back to the Mods to chase another title - a true racer move.
Pros: He has already won a freakin’ NASCAR Truck Series race… why wouldn’t you put him back in a Truck?
Cons: Most of our panel probably didn’t consider him a short tracker this year and that’s why he wasn’t on the draft.
Little, Jesse, 12 – Legends Cars
Many people might not know the first name, but they know the last. Jesse Little is the son of former NASCAR driver Chad Little. After a spin in Bandoleros, Little has turned 12 and moved up to Legends Cars. He has been impressive in his first few races of 2009.
Pros: Just like many on the list, having a popular last name instantly puts him on people's tongues. He can talk the talk.
Cons: Pressure to perform due to having a former NASCAR racer as a dad could be troublesome at times.
Mayhew, David, 27 – Camping World West
In his three seasons in the Camping World Series West, Mayhew has gone from an underdog campaigner to a consistent threat for victories. While he hasn’t cracked into victory lane just yet, he’s got nine top-fives in his CWW career and has three top-six finishes in four starts so far this season.
Pros: The Californian has the look and the talent and has competed well in a tough series.
Cons: No winner’s trophies from big races on CWW or the old Southwest Series hurt his stock. He’s gotta win and win soon at 27.
McReynolds, Brandon, 17 – Late Model Stock Cars
After graduating from the Allison Legacy Series, Brandon McReynolds, son of TV personality Larry McReynolds, finally made the move to big cars in 2008. He won at Franklin County Speedway (VA) in his rookie season with the UARA Stars Late Model Stock series. He needs to keep making a name for himself and keep winning. He has had a difficult start to the 2009 season.
Pros: Moving out of the scale-car world to something bigger will bode well for his career advancement. He is a well-spoken, good looking kid.
Cons: Needs to make sure he becomes his own man and not just the son of Larry Mac. Has not performed good enough this year with the best crew chief in UARA and the best of equipment.
Meyers, Jason, 30 – WoO Sprint Cars
This kid was the “Young Gun” of the Sprint Car wars years ago. He was highly touted and has lived up to the hype, for the most part, in the World of Outlaws. He finished second in the ’08 standings to the new “King” of the Outlaws, Donny Schatz, with eight “A-Main” victories.
Pros: Winning sprint car guys are pure “wheel-men.”
Cons: WoO drivers haven’t really made a dent in the Cup scene and he’s too old now.
Millwood, Tyler, 16 - Late Models
Millwood had a great growing season in the ASA SAT ranks in 2008. A career-best third-place run at Bronson Motor Speedway (FL) highlighted a top-10 spot in the final season standings. If Millwood had some luck on his side, he would have gone to victory lane at Mobile International Speedway (AL) earlier this season.
Pros: Has a full season of Late Models under his belt at the age of 16.
Cons: Victory lane has eluded him. If he’s going to advance at the next level, some quality wins are needed.
Mullinax, Jeremy, 18 - Late Models
The former Legends Car champion is ready for his sophomore campaign in the Late Model world. Despite limited success in 2008, Mullinax did win the pole for the first ever ASA SAT event at Mobile. Mullinax has noted crew chief and driver coach Mike Garvey in his corner, which goes a long way in the South.
Pros: He’s a smart kid that will not tear his stuff up in a race.
Cons: Needs to run more events, especially in some other series and big races, in order to keep his name in the spotlight.
Murgic, Nick, 18 - ASA Midwest
Last year’s ASA Midwest Tour Rookie of the Year is making a name for himself in short track racing. He’s won feature races at Elko Speedway (MN) and holds his own on the ASA Midwest Tour. Keep your eye on him.
Pros: Already a fan favorite as proven by his election as the 2008 Speed51.com/ ARP Race Bodies Late Model Most Popular Driver.
Cons: There’s lot of talent on the ASA Midwest Tour, so standing out is a tough thing to do.
Murphy, Sean, 24 - Late Models
A talented driver in the ASA Late Model World, Murphy won three times in 2008 in the ASA Challenge Series. He was in line for a championship, however poor finishes cost him the title. He parlayed the Late Model success into a Camping World Truck Series ride on a part-time basis with the SS Green Light team, but success was hard to come by there.
Pros: Worked really with SS Green Light Racing at the start of 2008, notched three wins in four starts.
Cons: While the Truck experience was good, he never ran well enough to solidify a ride in that series nor in Late Models, so he has no solid plans for 2009.
Odom, Brandon, 16 - Late Models
One of the better-kept secrets at Pensacola’s Five Flags Speedway is Brandon Odom, who finished right behind the #1 Underclassman Draft pick Johanna Long in 2008 points. Now teaming up with Royce Johnston has doubled his race dates as he looks to make a big splash in the Late Model world.
Pros: Odom is smooth and consistent, rarely tearing up his car when he’s behind the wheel.
Cons: Should really move up to Super Late Models, not much left for him to learn at the Pro level.
PaHud, Christian, 15 – Limited Late Model Stock Cars
After a successful tour in the Legends Car ranks, Christian PaHud "retired" from Legends Car racing at the beginning of 2009 to focus on moving up in the sport. He is currently racing Limited Late Model Stocks. In fact, he recently won at Tri-County Motor Speedway (NC).
Pros: Getting out of the Legends Car world at an early age is a big thing since many stay in too long.
Cons: He needs to make sure to race at many different tracks so he doesn't get sucked into a "one track jack" scenario.
Pallai, Richie, 19 - SK Mods
It took just 40 laps for Richie Pallai to really make a name for himself in short track racing. Those 40 laps were the ones that made up the SK Modified feature at Stafford Motor Speedway’s Spring Sizzler this year where Pallei scored his first SK Modified victory in front of a packed house. What will come next? All eyes are on him now.
Pros: Winning at Stafford means beating some tough customers – like Ted Christopher, Woody Pitkat, Doug Coby and others. There is more talent in this weekly division of racing than on some tours.
Cons: Racing weekly is still racing weekly. Pallai will need to hit a tour to really raise his stock.
Pauch Jr., Billy, 21 – Modifieds/Dirt Cars
Billy Pauch, Jr. is now racing 358 Dirt Modifieds on a weekly basis at Grandview Speedway and Big Diamond Raceway in PA. In recent years, Pauch has split his time between NASCAR Mods, 358 Mods and event an appearance or two in ARCA, but all with limited success.
Pros: If he’s half the wheel man his dad is (Billy Sr.), the kid’s got the talent to take him to the top.
Cons: He’s also got the pressure of having his dad’s last name and the stigma that comes with it at times.
Payea, Scott, 27 - ACT Late Models
Driving the sky-blue #89 Late Model out of the Green Mountain state is your 2008 ACT Late Model points’ runner-up Scott Payea. From a third-place finish in his ACT debut a few years back at Lee to his current perch atop the ACT standings, Payea has done very well in a very competitive series.
Pros: A very smart driver. Payea knows how to save his equipment and race at the end better than most veterans, much less young guns. Does a lot with a little and is a personable young man.
Cons: An ACT Late Model is a regional beast, so heading South to attract attention in a few big shows here and there isn’t really an option unless Payea changes his car around greatly.
Pfluger, Victor, 18 - Late Models
Pfluger is already a champion on the left coast with his title in the ASA SPEED Truck Series back in 2007. The teenager has already moved up to the Late Model world were he has scored victories and a bunch of other solid finishes.
Pros: Is a good looking kid with lots of talent and he’s further along then most his age.
Cons: It’s time to take on the Camping World West Series if he’s going to move up.
Pickens, Austin, 16 - Late Models / Trucks
Pickens is a talented driver from Florida who is making it work in both Trucks and Late Models. In February he won in both classes at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing.
Pros: Is young and getting good chances early on.
Cons: Needs to get in better shape to attract high-level teams.
Plott, Kyle, 13 – Legends / Pro Challenge
It’s tough to question the abilities of a driver that’s proven he can win where the toughest Legends Car races can be found, in the Carolinas and Georgia, so it’s hard to not consider a kid like Kyle Plott. “McNuggett,” as he’s affectionately known as, is a frequent visitor to victory lane at Georgia’s Lanier and Atlanta Motor Speedways and can get the job done at the Summer Shootout in NC, too. He made the jump to the Pro Challenge Series and was a consistent threat for victory there, too.
Pros: When some Legends racers pad their stats by racing a handful of cars, Plott mixes it up with the best of the best and beats ‘em, most of the time.
Cons: Needs to work on his interview skills, run a couple laps around the shop and keep going in the Pro Challenge/Late Model direction so as to not be a “Legends Kid” too long.
Pitkat, Woody, 29 – Mods
Pitkat has been among the winningest short track racers in recent years in New England. Between SK Modifieds and Late Models at places like Stafford and Thompson in Connecticut, Pitkat’s won just about everything there is to win. He even came within a few points of the NASCAR Weekly Series National Championship in 2007. He’s had a couple forays into the Whelen Mod Tour and even made his Camping World Series debut in the All-Star Showdown at Irwindale last season.
Pros: Knows how to win and win often. Has shown adaptabilty by succeeding in Modifieds and full-fendered cars.
Cons: He’s brash and cocky, which is good and a bad thing for a young racer. He sometimes has a gloomy outlook on things when they’re not going his way.
Ranger, Andrew, 22 - NASCAR Canadian Tire Series
After a career in open-wheeled CART Champ Car racing, Andrew Ranger decided that racing stock cars was the place to be. He made the move to the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series and was rewarded with the 2007 Series championship.
Pros: An open-wheeled refugee who looks to buck the trend of failure by taking his time to move up through the ranks to NASCAR’s top divisions instead of just arriving there. He’s posted the stats in the Canadian Tire Series, which has a fairly deep talent pool.
Cons: There is still the fact that former Indy Car/Champ Car drivers tend to struggle in big league stock car racing. For every Tony Stewart, Juan Montoya or Robby Gordon, there are plenty of Dario Franchittis, Paul Tracys and Jacques Villeneuves who didn’t make a good transition.
Ransone, Lucas, 18 – Pro Cup
In 2008, Lucas Ransone made 21 Late Model starts and finished in the top 10 for all events. He also had three Pro Cup starts in 2008. This year he has finished 10th and 13th in the first two Pro Cup events of and plans to run the whole season. Consistency is his key to success.
Pros: Committing to a full season in Pro Cup will put his name out there on a constant basis and performing in a heavier stock car will pay dividends.
Cons: Finishes around 10th isn't going to cut it. He needs to start racing within the top five.
Reen, Glen, 23 - Mods
The 2008 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Rookie of the Year is making steady progress in that form of racing. It is now unusual not to find him running in the top 10 of a Tour race.
Pros: Great personality and very smart behind the wheel. Has earned the respect of his fellow competitors.
Cons: Sometimes it’s hard to stand out in the talent-rich Modified Tour pit area.
Rhodes, Harrison, 15 – Legends Cars
After looking at the Allison Legacy Series, Harrison Rhodes has found a home in the Legends Young Lions division. He has already won multiple races at Concord Speedway (NC) in 2009 and is considered a contender at every Legends event he attends.
Pros: Has Chik-fil-A backing, which is tough to get a big sponsor in Legends Car racing. Needs to keep them happy.
Cons: The Legends Car "push to pass" style of racing might get in his head too deep if he isn't careful.
Robb, Trey, 17 – Sprint Cars
Not many drivers can climb in to Sprint Cars and feel at home. Trey Robb is one of those drivers and he’s only 17. Robb went down in history a few years back as the youngest winner ever at Oklahoma’s State Fair Speedway. He also scored a big USAC win at Five Flags Speedway (FL) in 2007.
Pros: Has been racing for close to 10 years in several different types of cars.
Cons: Needs to score some more wins to attract attention.
Rocco, Keith, 24 - SK Mods
Racing SK Modifieds can be a three-night-a-week affair in Connecticut… at least it is for “Kid Roc”. He’s won at Stafford, Thompson and Waterford and attracted plenty of attention for that. Rocco has become quite a personality in the sport already.
Pros: Rocco is building up a big fan base in Connecticut – even getting a chance to visit the Governor thanks to his racing accomplishments.
Cons: Might be too aggressive. Playing naughty with guys like Ted Christopher and Woody Pitkat at the local level is one thing, trying it while on tour might not be tolerated.
Rogers, Clay, 28 – Pro Cup / Late Models
In the short track community, it is hard to find someone that hasn't heard of Clay Rogers. The two-time Pro Cup champion can wheel a car on the track as well as teach drivers off how to get to the front in races. He is a former Snowball Derby champion as well.
Pros: He has a lot of respect within the racing community and there is not questioning he talents behind the wheel.
Cons: Age and the "going nowhere fast" moniker are present. Clay also had a shot a few years ago in the Nationwide Series. He might be a short track lifer.
Ruble, Korey, 22, - Super Late Models
Ruble is a graduate from the University of Alabama who loves two things - his racing and his football. The Crimson Tide fan scored a bunch of wins in the Georgia Asphalt Series a few years back. Since then he’s been doing Super Late Models and he was second at the first-ever CRA South event.
Pros: Can drive and compete on a shoestring budget. Ran the 2008 Rattler on one set of tires.
Cons: Doesn’t race enough to get decent exposure and still has a bit of a stigma as a cheater from a series of DQ’s in Pro Late Model races a few years back.
Ruston, Kenzie, 17 – Legends Cars/Micro Sprints
Kenzie Ruston is not a household name yet, but she is working her way toward that goal. She is racing out of Oklahoma and is winning in the Legends Car ranks in Texas while running a Micro-Sprint on dirt. A few weeks back, she flipped on Friday in the Micro-Sprint and won on Saturday and Sunday in the Legends Car. She will be racing a Late Model at some point this year.
Pros: Good-looking girl who doesn’t take anything from the boys. She’s a real racer when it comes to scale-cars.
Cons: She needs to get into a bigger car at this point as well as improve on her shyness during interviews.
Sanborn, Trevor, 22 - PASS
Sanborn won two PASS South races in his career and has been knocking harder on the door to victory lane in PASS North than anyone out there.
Pros: PASS Super Late Model stats are impressive against a high level of competition. Had a promising ARCA test with Bobby Gerhart’s team, so adapting to a heavier racecar probably won’t be a problem.
Cons: Sanborn isn’t racing enough. We keep hearing of plans for him to hit the track… in ARCA…. in PASS….but those plans don’t always pan out. He won’t get noticed sitting on the sidelines.
Sauter, Travis, 26 – Late Models
The Sauter name is well known in the racing community, especially the Midwest. Jim Sauter is a racing Legend; Jay won in the NASCAR Truck Series; Johnny in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and Johnny and Tim are both former ASA Nat’l Tour champs. He is currently running in the ASA Midwest Series and has shown strength in the Upper Midwest LM circuit. He’s finished in the top five after nearly one-third of his career starts there in fact.
Pros: Family name means a lot, and in Travis' case, might open a few doors here and there. Does a lot with little and knows his racecar well.
Cons: Performance hasn't been stellar and he looks older than he actually is.
Satterfield, Taylor, 20 - Late Models
Taylor Satterfield is a wheelman from the state of the Georgia. The two-time GAS winner finished in the top five in points in the inaugural season of the ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour. Satterfield also was the runner-up in the 2008 World Crown 200 at the old Peach State Speedway (GA).
Pros: He’s a talented kid who can adapt to any racetrack.
Cons: A bit aggressive over the years and has gotten into some hot water with his antics.
Sheltra, Patrick, 22 - ARCA
The 22-year-old Florida driver made the ultimate comeback this year. After a compression fracture of his fourth vertebrae in a wreck at the season opener at Daytona, Sheltra got back in the saddle in Salem and took his first career ARCA victory. Sheltra also wheels a Dirt Late Model. His team helps field a Dirt Late Model for Shannon Babb.
Pros: Driven, young and has proven that he can win in ARCA without a Cup-level budget.
Cons: His scruffy look makes him appear older than he actually is. Unless you’re with a development team, gaining exposure in ARCA is hard to do.
Slocumb, Beau, 24 - Late Models
Slocumb is a proven winner in both ASA Late Models and ASA SAT. The Georgia native has made a name for himself as a consisten threat no matter where he wins. But, all activities on-track have taken the back seat to a far bigger battle, as he’s been fighting cancer over the past few months.
Pros: Has been strong in everything from Late Models to Pro Cup and undoubtedly returning to the track is helping motivate his recovery efforts.
Cons: Sure cancer is costing him time from the track, but that’s not what’s important. Slocumb certainly has the thoughts and prayers of all of us at Speed51.com, our panel and the rest of the short track community.
Smith, Casey, 24 – SLM
If he had come along five years sooner, Casey Smith could have used the ASA National Tour as a stepping stone to great things in racing. Unfortunately, he made his name there just as the tour crumbled and died. He’s rebounded nicely by winning all throughout the Deep South in Super Late Models, but he just hasn’t gotten that exposure that he missed out on earlier this decade.
Pros: Hard-working and can drive a racecar. Despite a low budget, he has run strong in everything he has raced in the past several years.
Cons: His moment to shine might have passed in the old ASA National Tour days. Seems to find himself in the middle of trouble after the race due to on-track incidents.
Smith, Jesse, 19 - ARCA
The 2006 ASA Late Model North Division Champion has come a long way in three years. As he approaches his 20th birthday, Smith looks to keep his solid runs going like he had in the ARCA/REMAX Series a year ago. In only eight starts he logged three top-five finishes and four top-10 finishes.
Pros: Did a lot with his few starts in ARCA in 2008, plus his youthful looks make him still look more like a pre-teen than an almost 20-year-old.
Cons: Needs to run full time to get more attention and some victories wouldn’t hurt, either.
Stroupe, Zach, 16 – Legends Cars
Even though this kid didn’t get a single vote from our 32 panelists, we decided to put him in. After all, he became the youngest winner ever in PASS Super Late Model history last year with BDI Racing. Then he fell off the charts after he left the team. He raced Legends Cars this winter with limited success and may make some Dirt Mod or Late Model appearances this year.
Pros: He’s young and has plenty of time to mature. He’s been fast in any type of racecar he’s driven.
Cons: Doesn’t speak well when being interviewed and is extremely lanky. Brother Nick (13), who hasn’t been racing much lately either, could be the better driver.
Swanson, Tanner, 18 – Open-Wheel
This open-wheel driver has been knockin’ on the door now for the last couple of seasons. He won the tough Western States Sprint Car Championship in ’08, including a triumph in the Glen Niebel Classic at Anderson Speedway in Indiana. This California kid is the brother of another talented kid in the USAC ranks, Kody Swanson.
Pros: He has proven he is a winner and he can learn from his brother’s mistakes.
Cons: Questions is still out there – “Can all USAC kids adapt easily to heavy stocks cars like Stewart and Newman.”
Sweet, Brad, 23 - Open Wheel
Brad Sweet’s talents have opened up the eyes of people at the Cup level. The 23-year old California driver races a Sprint Car for NASCAR star Kasey Kahne. Sweet had a sweet 2008 season. The kid can win big races. How about the Knoxville Midget Nationals, Belleville Midget Nationals, and Eldora’s Four Crown Nationals? Are those big enough?
Pros: Won a ton in his first full season of USAC racing. Exposure that comes from racing for NASCAR driver. He has a slue of races on his schedule.
Cons: If he wants to venture outside of the Sprint Car world, he will have to get some fendered experience.
Tardiff, Alan, 24 - CW East/PASS
Alan Tardiff’s PASS North tenure was plagued with bad luck, but his dip into the NASCAR Camping World East Series has proven successful right away. It’s just a half-dozen races old and he has one pole position and sits third in the early-season point standings. Plus, he’s doing it from a two-car garage in Maine without any full-time help.
Pros: The fans love a good David vs. Goliath story and this is true as Tardiff takes on the big developmental teams in the Camping World East Series. Doing more with less is always a good way to get noticed.
Cons: Might not have enough sponsorship to race the whole CW East schedule this year. Definitely doesn’t have the money to buy rides.
Thorn, Derek, 23 – Camping World West / Late Models
The Californian Thorn rose into the spotlight with a big ASA Late Model win at Nashville a few years back. Since then, after a strong career in the Late Model world, Thorn switched gears and hit the Camping World East Series, where he scored a top-five finish in six starts on his part-time rookie campaign.
Pros: Extremely well-spoken and marketable. Proved that even with a part-time, limited-funded team, “little guys” can succeed in the East Series.
Cons: Exposure was tough to find in the East Series when he was competing there with the big-dollar development teams, so his success went under the radar.
Turple, Shawn, 30 - Super Late Models
Turple is the best-kept secret in the short track world of the Canadian Maritimes. They sure know him up there, but are we familiar enough with him down here? He has won three Carquest Pro Stock Tour features and in the past few years has also been towing down to places like Hickory and Beech Ridge to race as well.
Pros: A friendly young man who can drive a racecar. Has plenty of fan support in Canada, where short track racing is more like a religion that just a pastime.
Cons: He is from so far up North that nobody down South will ever notice what he is accomplishing up there. Will need to race more often in the states to get noticed. At age 30, he’s out of draft eligibility.
Wakefield, Justin, 27 – Super Late Models
Some guys fly under the radar, and that is the case with Justin Wakefield. In 2008, he won two PASS South Super Late Model races and finished seventh in the points. He is a contender in just about every event, but has had a rough start in 2009 with mechanical issues.
Pros: With limited funding, Wakefield has made a lot out of his last few years of racing.
Cons: No money = no exposure. Wakefield doesn't have a website or PR, so details on his career are limited to a few media websites.
Ward, Brandon, 28 – Pro Cup / Modifieds
2006 and 2007 were good years for Brandon Ward. In 2006, he claimed the UARA-Stars series title and Most Popular Driver awards, while in 2007; he was the Rookie of the Year and Most Popular Driver in the Pro Cup Series. In 2008, he split his time between Modifieds and Pro Cup, and is doing the same in 2009.
Pros: Diversity of what he has driven and currently drives means he can adapt well to different styles of racing.
Cons: His non-dedication to one type of racing over another could bite him in the long run
Williams, Josh, 15 – Legends / Fastruck
Josh Williams has virtually re-written the Florida Legends Car record books. The 15-year-old wins just about every week at his home track of Charlotte County and has taken his Legends prowess to success at the Summer Shootout at Lowe’s, too. Last year, Williams emerged as a threat in the Fastruck Series throughout Florida, too, where he’s won a handful of races already.
Pros: Paints a pretty picture with words and is a proven winner, plus Humpy Wheeler and Bob Dillner are on his side.
Cons: Taming down the cockiness wouldn’t hurt, but Williams really needs to slow it down on the Legends front and get into some bigger cars.
Wimmer, Chris, 30 – Super Late Models
The younger of the racing Wimmer brothers has had a couple shots in the NASCAR Truck and Nationwide Series’ in the past couple of years, but never in great equipment. He does a lot with a little, as he showed in the tough ASA Midwest Tour last year by finishing fourth in points.
Pros: He works on his car by himself and has proven he is as speedy as his older brother, Scott.
Cons: He is very quiet and in this day and age, you need a voice to go along with a heavy foot.
Wight, Larry, 16 - DIRT Mods
Wight isn’t just the youngest driver in the Gypsum Express stable of DIRT Modifieds, he’s also the youngest ever Rookie of the Year in both big-block and small-block Mods.
Pros: With teammates like Billy Decker, Pat Ward, and Tim Fuller how can this kid not learn everything about winning on dirt? Already has a cool nickname – Lightning Larry.
Cons: Will need to graduate from dirt to be noticed. If Tim McCreadie couldn’t use dirt racing to land a big-time stock car ride, we’re not sure anyone can.