ASA Midwest Tour
First base has notoriously been the place that guys in the sunset of their careers move to in order to remain in the lineup and be productive, albeit not as productive as they once were. Take Mike Piazza, Jim Thome and Jeff Bagwell over the last 10 years or so, for example. Those guys were all in their twilight years, but could still get it done…just like Steve Carlson. The only difference is that Carlson doesn’t need the demotion to first – he’s still just as good as ever at age 52. The multiple-time ARTGO, NASCAR Midwest Series and NASCAR Weekly Series National Champion may have lost a step after a base hit, but his right-foot is just as heavy as it was when he first got going on his short track tear in the 1970’s. He’s got two wins in the ASA Midwest Tour this season and is poised for back-to-back ASAMWT titles as the point leader, as well.
Southeastern Super Late Models
Grill has become one of those guys like Derek Jeter of the Yankees. There may have been more successful guys this current year to make the All-Star team, but is there a more feared one? Grill has two big wins this year, including the Super Late Model kickoff at Gresham Motorsports Park (GA). And after all, doesn’t he remind ya of All-Star second baseman from the Boston Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia? Grill is just made to be a second-baseman!
Southeastern Super Late Models
Were calling him a Shortstop because he’s got the build of one of those little shortstops from the 80’s and 90’s - small and quick, perhaps a Mark Lemke-type of gritty athlete. We say Lemke because he’s was the starting shortstop for the Atlanta Braves in 1995, the year they won it all...and the year Chase Elliott was born. Chase is a big Braves fan and he’s close to winning it all in 2010 with a .286 average in the win column (6-21). He’s slugging .714 with his top five finishes (15-21). No doubt Elliott is an All-Star.
Southeastern Super Late Models
A no-brainer all-star pick is Senoia, Georgia's Bubba Pollard. Pollard reminds us a lot of fellow Georgia resident Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves, this year’s All-Star starting 3B. They’re both big dudes and just simply keep getting the job done. Just when we thought Chipper was done and a has-been, he’s having a near-career year for the first-place Braves. Just when we thought Bubba Pollard wouldn’t be able to duplicate his incredible 2009, already with five wins against the top Super and Pro Late Model talents in the Deep South. Similarly, many people know their stars simply by their nicknames Bubba and Chipper…not many people will cause a fuss over Andrew Pollard nor Larry Jones, but Bubba and Chipper certainly fit with the fans.
Poole would be our starting outfielder and leadoff batter, for sure. He’s not going to impress anyone with his size, but is quickness on the track is just like that of starting Mariners Outfielder/leadoff guy Ichiro Suzuki. Ichiro always comes through with a hit, and when he does, count on him to take a couple extra bases on a consistent basis. Consistent speed is what Brennan Poole has been about in on the UARA Late Model Stock tour this year, too. Poole is the only UARA racer to have multiple wins on the tour this year with three. He’s leading the points and doesn’t seem to be slowing down any as he looks for his first UARA title.
Southern Super Stars
Every season a player will creep up the radar and end up on the All-Star team when no one expected it. Mark Day from the Southern Super Stars Series is our Martin Prado of the Late Model world this season. Prado was an unexpected All-Star with Atlanta just like Day, who not many would expect to see in a list of All-Stars like the rest of our lineup. But, looking at the stats, Day certainly deserves a spot on the roster. He has three wins in his series against an average field of 15. Those numbers are better than other Super Late Model drivers on the All-Star team who have wins against shorter fields elsewhere in the deep South. He’s also been in the top five twice in the Show Me the Money events at Montgomery.
Like Corey Hart of the Milwaukee Brewers, an All-Star this season, Loden lets the stats do the talking for him rather than having the big name starpower. Instead of having a famous last name or part of a development team in the Southeastern Super Late Model world, Loden has quietly come on the scene in PASS South and done nothing but run up front. He scored three-straight wins earlier this season, and even when he hasn’t gone to victory lane, he’s been close to it. He turned heads in Late Model Stocks for a few years, primarily at Hickory Motor Speedway, but he’s taken his show to Super Late Models and to arguably the toughest SLM touring series in the country and kept up his success.
When rookies see their first game action in the show, veterans often take them under their wing to show them the ropes. Think of the lessons Crash Davis taught Nuke Laloosh in “Bull Durham.” Keith Rocco learned how to make racecars go fast partially from his dad, noted Connecticut racer Ronnie Rocco, but mostly from working in the shop alongside Ted Christopher several years ago. Rocco learned how racecars work and how to drive them, then got onto the short tracks of Southern New England and has since begun to shatter some of the records set by his mentor TC. He’s been just a few points short of NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Championships in years past, but now “Kid Roc” is on pace to win the maximum number of races allowed at the Stafford, Waterford and Thompson tracks with 14 total SK Mod wins already.
No offense to Chuckie, but isn’t exactly lean and mean in stature, which is why we’ve put him in our Catcher spot. After all, didn’t Ivan Rodriguez make a good living with the nickname, “Pudge?” While we may be poking fun at “Hoss,” he has been the dominant force on the RoC Modified Trail this year. He’s won four of the five shows and leads the points. Oh by the way, he’s done all that while skipping that one race… no wonder why he didn’t hit it out of the park there too.
When Johnny Clark heads to the track, there is only one thing in his mind - winning. Yes, that might sound like the tagline to some cheesy sports drink commercial, but it is true. After winning four PASS North championships, Clark doesn't screw around. He goes to win and has been successful at even taming one of his worst tracks, White Mountain Motorsports Park, to win there earlier this year. Clark just saw a three-race win streak end in PASS North racing, but we don't think it will be long until he's winning again. That would make him perfect for the single-minded role of a designated hitter who doesn't have to worry about fielding, pitching or catching. Like any great DH, Clark is focused on one thing and he does it well.
Super Late Models
When Kyle Busch hits the short tracks, he swings for the fences. More often than not it seems, that's where he hits the ball to as well. Busch doesn't have to worry about chasing
points with his Super Late Model and he has access to some of the best equipment out there, with his Hamke racecars and Hamner engines. He also has the benefit of guys like Bond Suss and Chris Gabehart making the best of that equipment. The result? In the past year and a half, he has won the Snowball Derby, Winchester 400, Speedfest and the Redbud 300. The ultimate goal of a clean-up hitter is to clean the bases with a grand slam - well, Busch has hit THE grand slam of the Super Late Model world, that's for sure.
Midwestern Super Late Models
We needed an “Ace” on our staff and we believe Ross Kenseth is that. He’s got the calm, cool and collected composure of his dad, NASCAR driver Matt Kenseth, and reminds us a lot of former Cy Young Award winning pitcher Tom Glavine. Kenseth simply gets the job done and unlike most kids, can give you plenty of innings… or should we say he completes all the laps. He went to legendary high-banks of Winchester Speedway for the first time this year, and won! And he is the top rookie in the ASA MWT, with a win to boot.
CRA Super Series
Johnny reminds us of “Wild Thing,” Rick Vaughn in the movie "Major League." Now all he needs is the “Mohawk” haircut! Seriously, Van Doorn is a personable guy, yet he’s got enough of that crazy and/or goofy demeanor that is consistent with the make-up of a “Closer” in the big leagues. Plus he’s got the talent to boot. He only has one win this year, but he’s leading the CRA Super Series points and is one the way to defending his crown.
Bobby Santos III
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
The kid can get it done at any position and that’s why he’s our Utility All Star. Santos has won three races on the competitive NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour this year and has finished in the top-five in every race, with the exception of the road course at Lime Rock Park (CT). The Mod Tour point leader has also run well when he’s returned to USAC/NEMA/Open-Wheel racing as is evident by his USAC Midget win at Iowa Speedway earlier this year. Santos III is getting better with the press too, so he may get the call to the “Majors” soon.
If you want someone that is speedy around the bases, or tracks in his case, this 20-year-old is the ticket. Travis Eddy has been fast no matter where he has run this year in a Modified in the Midwest. In 27-races this year, he has 21 top-5 finishes with six victories at four different tracks. And he says he’s been fighting engine issues. To say that Travis is moving out from under the shadow of his 7-time ASA National Champion father Mike Eddy is an understatement.
NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
We’ve seen plenty of darn good ballplayers go on to a long career as an on-field manager. In the last handful of years, we’re also seeing just as many champions on the racetrack start up or run some development teams that have seen plenty of success with younger drivers as well. Like Yankees Manager Joe Girardi, Andy Santerre’s “playing career” is just a few years in the rear-view, but he has already developed plenty of credentials running a championship-caliber organization. After winning four-straight titles in what is now called the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, Santerre hung up the helmet and started his own East team and launched careers for a few young drivers. The NASCAR Drive for Diversity program then tabbed Santerre to lead their Revolution Racing organization, which has already won two East races in 2010 and has had a hand in Revolution Racing' s Late Model success this season, too.