Welcome to the Labor Day edition of the Speed51.com Short Track Power rankings. Another Short Track summer of action is winding down and that leads us to this round of Short Track Power.
This time around, we had over 60 different short trackers mentioned on various ballots. Everything was tabulated and the sheer number of different drivers nominated on the top ten lists of everyone involved meant that a premium was placed on consistency. Being ranked number one or two on a few lists didn't mean nearly as much as being ranked high on several lists.
A few big guns didn't even get a single vote this time around as well. Southeastern favorite Bubba Pollard, Oxford 250 winner Eddie MacDonald and New England legend Mike Rowe all placed high just over a month ago in the Power Rankings, but slipped out of the running this time around. With some big shows coming up before the end of the season, we don't expect any of those top dogs to be gone for long though.
The rankings were decided after polling our panel of experts in the industry.
Here are our current power rankings for the 2010 short track racing season:
1. Ryan Blaney - PASS South / CRA - Previous Rank - 15th - When all of the votes were tallied up for the Short Track Power Poll this week, there was a little bit of a surprise winner. It wasn't someone who has gathered a lot of headlines of being completely dominant this year, like Keith Rocco or Clay Rogers. It was someone who actually just gained the point lead this past weekend in PASS South Super Late Models - Ryan Blaney.
But Blaney got to the top for a good reason - consistency. Blaney only gathered one "number one" vote this week, but he was on all but three of the ballots turned in this time around. Those second, third and fourth place votes added up.
Blaney started winning in the Super Late Model ranks earlier this season, with a PASS South victory coming in March at Dillon Motor Speedway (SC). Since then, he has won two other races in PASS South along with a CRA Southern Six Pack show. He's gathered a few more PASS South podium finishes as well and now sits in the driver's seat for the 2010 PASS South championship. Will this newfound power take him through the season and reward Blaney with a championship? We'll see. This might be his first time atop the Tower of Power, but we don't think it will be his last time here.
Here are a few of the voter comments for Blaney this time around:
"Ryan should be called "snowball." His career is picking up steam like a snowball down a mountain."
"He’s run down the points lead and has been on the podium in each of his last four starts."
2. Chase Elliott - Pro Cup, SLM, PLM, Blizzard, CRA and More - Previous Rank - Unranked - While Ryan Blaney has pretty much concentrated on one Super Late Model series to gain experience in (PASS South), there's another son of a NASCAR Cup Series driver who has just been off racing wherever and whenever he can. Chase Elliott has been barnstorming the country and taking his winning ways on the road through the Eastern half of the United States.
Yes, the 14-year-old has the best equipment at his disposal, but he has also made the most of that equipment all year long. So far in 2010, Elliott has won in the Blizzard Super Late Model Series at Five Flags, the Miller Lite Super Late Model Series at Mobile, the Show Me The Money Series at Montgomery and on the Sunoco National Tour. He's also finished on the podium in CRA Southern Six-Pack and CRA Super Series events and run strong in the USARacing Pro Cup Series as well.
Here are a few voter comments on Elliott's efforts this year:
"Chase Elliott is probably the most talented driver in the country right now. That isn't always reflected in polls like Short Track Power, but that's likely because he's usually in a drastically different type of car from one weekend to the next. He's terrorizing the competition in every series that will let him compete at the tender age of 14. It will be really interesting to see what kind of assault he mounts on Clay Rogers' Pro Cup dominance, now that he's planning to run the rest of the 2010 schedule in that series. Is there really any doubt that he's going to win a Pro Cup race before season's end? I say no."
"Chase me if you dare. Elliott has 8 wins in 2010 and has been nothing short of impressive in his sophomore campaign. Now he’s gearing up to win four championships in the Late Model ranks."
"Chase has been the man all over the country this season, but especially down in the Panhandle."
3. Keith Rocco - Mods - Previous Rank - 1st - While Keith Rocco has slipped a little bit in our most recent Power Power, he's also has a new title since the last time our panel cast their ballots. That title? Your 2010 NASCAR Whelen All American Series National Champion. Rocco had a perfect season as far as those standings are tabulated - with 18 SK/Sunoco Modified victories in the State of Connecticut in races with at least 20 car fields. He's won a few other events too and his seasons at Stafford Motor Speedway, Thompson International Speedway and Waterford Speedbowl aren't even over yet!
Here are what a few of our voters had to say about Rocco:
"I've said it before and I'll say it again, the fact that this kid doesn't have a ride on the Whelen Modified Tour is a travesty. He's already locked up the NASCAR All American Points Standings by turning in - by NASCAR's standards - a perfect season of 20 victories, with a month still remaining in the season. Kid Roc is power personified, ladies and gentlemen."
"OK. Now what? He’s won a ton this season but what is the finale?"
"You won't find any of the "Cup Kids" on my list, but you will find a true hardcore short tracker in Keith Rocco. This kid doesn't run a Tour and I've never seen any of his teams even do a press release, but when it comes to Thursday, Friday and Saturday night racing, he sure knows how to win races!"
4. Clay Rogers - Pro Cup - Previous Rank - 2nd - During the regular season of the USARacing Pro Cup Series, Clay Rogers has, at times, been unbeatable. He won five races in a row and six of the nine events on the schedule. Now, he's got to back that up with success in the championship portion of the Pro Cup season - where he is actually only tied for the championship lead after one event. However, Rogers did lead laps in that one race, which was held on Saturday night at Concord Speedway (NC).
Here are what a few voters had to say about Rogers:
"USAR Pro Cup isn't what it once was. The Hooters Cup days are gone. However, it's still a huge step up the racing ladder. Some of the old faithfuls are still there, and there's new, incredible talents coming in. None of them can do a whole lot with Clay. Whether they're at an ill-maintained half-mile or a palace of motorsports, he's just plain awesome."
"With less than a handful of races to go, its looking as though no one is going to be able to find an answer for Clay Rogers' dominance. six poles, six wins and eight top-10s in nine starts. That's not powerful, that's simply incredible."
"An off night for Rogers Is a fourth at Concord. Three races to the Championship."
5. Ted Christopher - Mods - Previous Rank - 9th - There could be two different reasons why the Power Poll voters cast their ballots for Ted Christopher this time around. First is the fact that he has closed the gap to point leader Bobby Santos, III on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour thanks to a pair of victories in the last few races. The other reason could be his great amount of success in the Sunoco Modified world, where TC has now won ten feature races at Thompson International Speedway (CT). Christopher also has one victory in the same type of car with a different name, over in the SK Modified division at Stafford Motor Speedway (CT).
Here is one comment on TC's accomplishments this summer, and what he faces next:
"Time to close the deal. TC has only one Modified Tour title can he close in and get his second?"
6. Augie Grill - SLM - Previous Rank - 5th - It wouldn't be Deep South Super Late Model racing if Augie Grill wasn't winning races somewhere. This year, Grill has visited victory lane in the Blizzard Series and on the CRA Southern Six-Pack Tour. Now, it hasn't been a dominating season for Grill so far, but most racers that we know would kill for the kind of "off" year that he's having. Then again, December always seems to be the best month for the two-time Snowball Derby and defending Snowflake 100 winner.
Here are a few voter comments on Grill's season:
"He's not racing much and he's less dominant in uncharted waters, but you can never bet against him. ...Anywhere."
"He’s the “White Rabbit” in a dog race. Always out front, always faster and the goal that everyone chases."
7. Johnny VanDoorn - CRA - Previous Rank - Unranked - Don't let the fact that Johnny VanDoorn has "only" won a pair of CRA Super Series races this year fool you. The Michigan driver is in command of the series points chase right now. In his free time, VanDoorn also has earned a pair of Outlaw Super Late Model victories this summer.
One of our voters summed VanDoorn's 2010 season up best with this comment:
"Well on his way to another CRA title."
8. Brennan Poole - UARA/LMSC - Previous Rank - 10th - The UARA-Stars tour for Late Model Stock Cars is a pretty competitive series. The roster is a mix of seasoned veterans and hungry drivers. So for someone to score five victories on the tour before Labor Day has even made it on the calendar is pretty powerful. But that is exactly what Brennan Poole has done. Oddly enough though, Poole is second in the series standings to Coleman Pressley. Then again, the Short Track Power poll has never been about points. It's all about the power shown by victories.
Here are a few voter comments about Poole:
"He may not run down the title but his win total has been impressive in 2010. I think he’ll be ok with no title if they win some big shows like Martinsville or Myrtle Beach."
"His results speak for themselves."
9. Johnny Clark - PASS North - Previous Rank - 12th - A fifth PASS North title could be within Johnny Clark's reach. With only two events left on the schedule, Clark has the point lead currently over Ben Rowe. Clark went on a tear early in the season, winning three straight races, and then cooled off a bit before winning the most recent PASS North show at Spud Speedway way up in Maine.
Here are a few voter comments about Clark:
"He leads the points with two races to go his momentum should carry him to a fifth PASS North title."
"Hello, third straight championship for Johnny Clark."
"[My] Number One. No doubt!"
10. Brian Hoar - ACT- Previous Rank - Unranked - If you want to define power, check out Brian Hoar's lead in the ACT Late Model standings. Right now, his closest pursuer is Brent Dragon - who only holds approximately 85% of the points that Hoar does. Still not impressed? How about a simpler statistic? Hoar has won three ACT races this year and contended for the victory in the prestigious TD Bank Oxford 250.
Here are a few voter comments about Hoar:
"Competing on the ACT Tour is certainly not the easiest task for a Late Model driver. Not only does the schedule take you to some of the most challenging tracks in the Northeast, you also have to contend with a
roster that reads like a 'Best of...' list. Brian Hoar has been historically up to the challenge, though, and 2010 is no different. He leads the points standings by a considerable amount, and has yet to finish outside of the top-10 this season. Add to that his three victories and you've got a pretty powerful season."
"Mr. ACT is on his way to yet another title – Let’s see if he can get the trifecta – ACT Championship, New Hampshire and The Milk Bowl."
11. Scott Hantz - CRA/SLM - Previous Rank - 3rd - Scott Hantz has been a busy man this summer. He's been racing, and winning, in the CRA Super Series, in Super Late Model open shows and even in Outlaw Super Late Models.
One of our panelists noted Hantz's packed schedule as a reason for his vote:
"Just completed six races in ten days with a couple wins."
12. Patrick Laperle - ACT - Previous Rank - Unranked - When the top ACT and ACT Quebec Series Late Model drivers from both sides of the border recently met for a Showdown race at Autodrome Chaudière (Quebec), you might have expected the competition to be close. Nope. Patrick Laperle nearly lapped the field on his way to victory. If that isn't powerful, we don't know what is. Laperle has also won three other races in ACT's Quebec-based Castrol Edge Series this season.
13. Ben Rowe - PASS North / ACT - Previous Rank - Unranked - There is a classic championship battle shaping up in PASS North this year between Johnny Clark and Ben Rowe. We already heard from Clark, in slot number nine, on a Short Track Power countdown, so now it's time to look at Ben Rowe's 13th place result. Rowe has won twice this year in PASS North and has nine top five finishes in eleven starts.
Rowe is also ranked third in the PASS National SLM standings had a very strong run in the ACT Late Model race at Twin State Speedway (NH) earlier this summer.
Here is what one of our voters had to say about Rowe:
"Goodbye, third straight championship for Johnny Clark."
14. Patrick Sheltra - ARCA - Previous Rank - Unranked - Patrick Sheltra is the new guy in the Short Track Power Rankings. There's good reason for him to be here too. Sheltra won the ARCA Racing Series event on the dirt mile at Springfield and then backed that up by winning the next race on the schedule at Chicagoland Speedway. That kind of diversity impressed our voters. Sheltra had one number one vote from those on our panel.
15. Chris Wimmer - ASA MW - Previous Rank - Unranked - Although he has just recently won his first ASA Midwest Tour event of the season at Marshfield Motor Speedway (WI), Chris Wimmer has been strong enough on that ultra-competitive tour this season to be leading the points. Wimmer also recently won the 66-lap Lodi Memorial race at State Park Speedway (WI).
Here is what one of our panelists had to say about Wimmer:
"It takes a big man to stand up to Steve Carlson and Wimmer has his nose out in front in the ASA Midwest Series."
16. Matt Sheppard - DIRT Mods - Previous Rank - Unranked - For some drivers, to run over 20 races in a season is great. Matt Sheppard has won that many races so far this season with his DIRT Modifieds - and it's barely September. Whether on the DIRTCar Big Block circuit or in weekly shows at Brewerton Speedway, Fulton Speedway, Cayuga County Fair Speedway and Rolling Wheels Raceway in New York, Sheppard's been getting it done this season. No wonder they call him "Super Matt".
17. Andrew Ranger - K&N East & West/NASCAR Canadian Tire Series - Previous Rank - 8th - Andrew Ranger must be the best kept secret in short track racing right now because he did something very odd in this edition of Short Track Power. The only ballots that Ranger was mentioned on were ballots where he was marked as the voter's number one pick. So despite multiple number one picks, Ranger could only muster a 17th-place finish in this edition of the Power Poll. He's won races this season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, Pro Series West and Canadian Tire Series ranks.
Here was one voter comment on Ranger:
"This guy is having a season most drivers only dream about. He's won on just about every road course he's stepped foot on this season, and is not looking out of place on the ovals either. The Canadian keeps climbing the racing ladder, and with all the wins he's accumulated, it's time for the Short Track world to start taking notice."
18. Andy Seuss - Mods - Previous Rank - 18th - Winning knows no boundaries for Modified driver Andy Seuss. The New Hampshire driver has won up North driving his family's #70 Modified in the Modified Racing Series event at Oxford Plains Speedway, and down South - with two victories in the Riggs Racing #47 this year. Seuss' most recent triumph came this past Saturday night as he closed up the gap in the race for the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour championship with a victory at Caraway Speedway (NC).
19. Joey Pole - ACT - Previous Rank - Unranked - Joey Pole might want to forget the first half of his season. If there was bad luck to be had, whether in the form of a mechanical failure, flat tire or even a weekly series Late Model driver wrecking him to protect his home turf, Pole found that bad luck. But Joey Pole didn't forget how to drive racecars and once the young New Hampshire driver threw that monkey off his back, he started winning again. Pole has scored two ACT Late Model victories this summer along with a Late Model open victory at Seekonk Speedway (MA).
20. Andy Loden - PASS South - Previous Rank - 13th - Andy Loden has slipped down the Tower of Power this summer - going from the top five to the top 15 and now the top 20. But don't let that fool you. 2010 has still been a breakout year for the former Late Model Stock Car driver. Loden has nabbed three victories, all coming in a row, on the PASS South Super Late Model tour.
The Rest of the Field -
21. Ryan Newman (WMT and NASCAR Sprint Cup)
22. Phil Bozell (Outlaw SLM)
23. Shane Hmeil (Open Wheels)
24. D.J. VanDerley (PLM)
25. Ryan Truex (K&N East)
26. Dave Darling (PASS North)
27. Nick Sweet (ACT)
28. CE Falk (LMSC)
29. Eric Holmes (K&N West)
30. Russell Fleeman (PLM and Pro Challenge)
31. Max Gresham (K&N East)
32. Lee Pulliam (LMSC)
33. Coleman Pressley (UARA)
34. Craig Goess (ARCA)
35. Davin Scites (LMSC)
36. Karl Allard (ACT)
37. Andy Shaw (PASS Mods)
38. Austin Theriault (ACT and PASS North)
39. Chris Perley (Supermodifieds)
40. James Civali (WSMT / WMT)
41. Jimmy Owens (DIRT LM)
42. Mike Landry (PASS Sportsman)
43. Stewart Friesen (DIRT Mods)
44. Mike Root (Outlaw SLM)
45. Ross Kenseth (ASA MW)
46. The Cooks (Superpro)
47. Derek Ramstrom (PASS North and SLM)
48. Burt Myers (Mods and WSMT)
49. Caleb Holman (Pro Cup)
50. Herb Neuman (SLM)
51. Bobby Santos, III (WMT)
52. Jeff Agnew (Pro Cup)
53. Jeff Scofield (SLM)
54. Earl Pearson (Dirt LM)
55. Korey Ruble (PLM)
56. Josh Richards (Dirt LM)
57. Cassius Clark (PASS North and SLM)
58. Eddie Hoffman (ASA LM and SLM)
59. Colt James (PLM)
60. Tim Russell (SLM)