Tonight at Marlins Park in Miami, Florida, the best of the best in Major League Baseball will convene for the “Mid-Summer Classic,” the MLB All-Star game. With bragging rights and home-field advantage on the line for the winning team, a lot of pride goes into just making an All-Star team to perform on one of baseball’s biggest stages.
While there’s no true All-Star event that brings short track racers from all different disciplines together for one night like MLB will serve up tonight, we at Speed51.com decided to make a roster of short track All-Stars to this point of the season.
So don your favorite team’s cap – whether it’s a race team or a MLB ball club – and check out who a panel of Speed51.com staff members have voted to the 2017 Speed51.com Short Track All-Star Team.
1B – Todd Gilliland (K&N Pro Series)
Gilliland is tall like a first baseman needs to be and smokes it out of the park like Toronto Blue Jays all-star first baseman Justin Smoak. He has four NASCAR K&N Pro Series West victories already in 2017 and leads the championship standings, while also sitting second in NASCAR K&N Pro Series East points.
2B – Ty Majeski (Super Late Models)
For the second straight year, Majeski finds himself as the starting second baseman on the Short Track All-Star Team. Like an all-star second baseman, Majeski is fast and has a great batting average at the plate. He has three ARCA Midwest Tour wins in four starts, as well as a Southern Super Series Rattler 250 win, a Midwest Truck Series victory, one Super Late Model win at New Smyrna (FL) and a handful of of local Late Model wins in 2017.
SS – Trevor Huddleston (Late Models)
Like Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, Huddleston is making is debut on the All-Star Team in 2017. The California driver has proven he’s a big-time hitter in 2017 by recording 10 wins at three tracks (Kern County, Tucson and Irwindale) in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series competition. He also currently sits second in the NWAAS national standings behind Lee Pulliam.
When an All-Star third baseman steps up to the plate, they normally deliver. That’s exactly what Jeff Choquette does whenever he straps in behind the wheel of a Late Model, whether it be a Super Late Model or Pro Late Model. So far in 2017, Choquette has recorded nine victories and a Pro Late Model championship during the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna (FL). He’s won a pair of Southern Super Series races, the Orange Blossom 100, Clyde Hart Memorial and the 100-lap Super Late Model finale at New Smyrna, just to name a few.
OF – Mike Harrison (Dirt Modifieds)
Harrison records wins in numbers like New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge hits home runs out of the park during the Home Run Derby. Harrison was a consensus all-star in 2017 with a whopping 22 victories in 34 starts thus far while competing in DIRTcar UMP Modified races, American Modified Series races and more.
OF – Austin Theriault (ARCA)
He’s smooth behind the wheel and offers the type of consistency you expect to see when Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts steps up to the place. Like Betts, he may not always hit the home run but even on a bad day he does what he needs to in order to keep his team in the championship hunt. Theriault has three ARCA victories (Daytona, Madison and Elko) and has not finished outside the top 10 in any race this season. That type of consistency has him leading the way in the championship standings.
OF – David Gravel (World of Outlaws Sprint Cars)
It seems as though the next World of Outlaws star has been born with Gravel earning the All-Star nod for the first time in his career. Gravel has stepped up in 2017 to challenge series dominator Donny Schatz and become a true contender among the Outlaws. His nine series victories this season only trails Schatz (13) and if he can develop more consistency we could very likely see him competing for a championship.
C – Brandon Sheppard (Dirt Late Models)
Like 14-time MLB All-Star Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, Sheppard has the physical build to block any fastballs that are thrown his way. He’s also proven he can be a heavy hitter when he steps up to the plate. Sheppard has won five of the six Hell Tour races he’s competed in this season. He has also recorded eight World of Outlaws Late Model wins and has a commanding lead at the top of the championship standings. Add in victories on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series and Southern National Bonus Series and you have a true all-star behind the plate.
C – Matt Craig (Super Late Models)
If your pitching staff has a knuckleballer, bring in Craig so that he can stop anything that is thrown at him. Like Cleveland Indians catcher Salvador Perez, Craig has displayed all-star numbers in 2017 with three Pro All Stars Series (PASS) South victories and a pair of CARS Tour wins on his resume.
DH – Kyle Larson (Sprint Cars)
When designated hitters step up to the plate they have one job: hit it out of the park. That is exactly what Kyle Larson has done each time he’s stepped into a Sprint Car this season. Even when the opposing team sends out their ace in the form of the Pennsylvania Posse, they have been no match for Larson. He’s fresh off of a winning streak that saw him score six straight Sprint Car victories in between his NASCAR Cup Series schedule.
PH – Christopher Bell (Sprint Cars/Midgets)
He may not get a whole lot of plate appearances at the short track level, but when he does he seems to deliver. Bell has one All Stars Circuit of Champions victory in 2017 to go along with a pair of USAC National Midget Series and POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series wins.
Pitcher (Ace) – Harrison Burton (K&N East, Super Late Models)
Like Boston Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale, the 2017 All-Star Game starter, Harrison Burton has struck out the competition in 2017. Competing with a new team, MDM Motorsports, Burton has mastered the stock car ranks this season with four NASCAR K&N Pro Series East victories and an ARCA Racing Series victory. He’s also recorded four Super Late Model wins and was the 2017 World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing Super Late Model champion at New Smyrna (FL).
Starting Pitcher – Matt Sheppard (Dirt Modifieds)
When you need a victory in the Big-Block Dirt Modified ranks you turn to Matt Sheppard. The defending Super DIRTcar Series champion has recorded 14 victories already in 2017 including five wins at Canandaigua (NY), six at Outlaw (NY), two at Utica-Rome (NY) and a Super DIRTcar Series win at Five Mile Point (NY).
Starting Pitcher – Casey Roderick (Late Models)
Roderick is a driver you want in your starting rotation simply for the fact that he knows how to get the job done. Like Minnesota Twins pitcher Ervin Santana, Roderick rarely lets you down and goes on the attack when victory is in sight. Roderick has eight victories already in 2017 with seven of those coming in Pro Late Model competition. He’s also proven that he doesn’t require a home field advantage by winning races at five different race tracks including New Smyrna (FL), Five Flags (FL), Crisp Motorsports Park (GA), Montgomery (AL) and Nashville (TN).
Starting Pitcher – Tyler Roahrig (Outlaw Late Models)
Roahrig is the type of guy you want on your team when the results matter most. He’s a big-time racer who delivers when the money is on the line. There’s no time in which that has been more apparent than his recent stretch of three straight $5,000-plus victories. His wins in 2017 include the Intimidator 100 at Kalamazoo (MI), Denny Nyari Classic at New Paris (IN), Summer Sizzler Tune-Up at New Paris, Main Event Racing Series at Midvale (OH) and Sweet Manufacturing Outlaw SLM Series at Berlin (MI).
Starting Pitcher – Matt Hirschman (Tour-type Modifieds)
Like San Francisco Giants ace Clayton Kershaw, Matt Hirschman knows how to throw a curveball at his competition when the big money is on the line. After all, he didn’t earn the nickname “Big Money” by being a slouch in the big moments. Hirschman’s victories in 2017 include the Richie Evans Memorial 100 at New Smyrna (FL), Open Wheel Wednesday at Seekonk (MA), three Race of Champions Modified Series wins and a pair of Tour-type Modified wins at Evergreen Raceway (PA).
Setup Pitcher – Timmy Solomito (NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour)
Solomito can do exactly what’s asked of him in just about all situations, which is exactly what you want from a setup man. He has wins at bigger tracks like Myrtle Beach Speedway (SC), and can also get it done on the smaller tracks like Riverhead Raceway (NY) and Langley Speedway (VA).
Closer – Josh Berry (Late Model Stock Cars)
When the race or game is on the line, you want someone that can close the deal in the high-pressure situation. Josh Berry has proven time and again that he is that guy, and he did it again just last week in the CARS Tour Late Model Stock race at Tri-County Motor Speedway (NC). Berry made a great crossover move in the final corner to take the win by just a few feet.
Utility – Nick Hoffman (Dirt Modifieds, Dirt LM, Outlaw Karts)
Hoffman is the definition of a utility player. He can do it all and play any position you need him to play. His victories in Dirt Modifieds, Dirt Late Models and Outlaw Karts show that he’s able to get the job done regardless of what position he plays.
Utility – Tim McCreadie (Dirt Late Models, Dirt Modifieds)
You may know him most because of his success in Dirt Late Models, but don’t forget that T-Mac is also a pretty good shoe behind the wheel of a Big-Block Dirt Modified. He proved that in June by winning Brett Hearn’s Big Show 9 at Albany-Saratoga Speedway (NY).
Coach – Frank Kimmel
The 10-time ARCA Racing Series champion has moved out of the cockpit as a driver, but is now in a driver-coach role. Kimmel has been helping drivers like Dalton Sargeant and more, and it’s clear his knowledge is helping as Sargeant just went to victory lane at Iowa Speedway.
Manager – Bond Suss
Bond Suss has always been a good crew chief, but since moving into the team owner role last year he’s proven that he’s a capable team owner as well. In 2017, Suss has had to manage multiple drivers from Toyota Racing Development. Some have had little to no pavement experience before, and all have been new to Super Late Models, but all have had good results under Suss’ leadership.
Owners – Cris Michaud & Pat Malone (Thunder Road), Raymond Delahoussaye (Houston Motorsports Park)
Michaud and Malone purchased Thunder Road (VT) with the hopes of continuing (and building) on a rich tradition of short track racing in Barre, Vermont. In their first few months as owners of the facility, the duo has made upgrades to improve the facility and establish a foundation for long-term success at the historic race track. Upgrades so far have included the repaving of the racing surface, as well as the walkways in the grandstand area.
Delahoussaye has also done his part in trying to continue a tradition, but he has done so in the State of Texas. The owner of Motorsports Inc. recently brought short track asphalt racing back to Texas with the hopes of continuing that tradition moving forward.
Team – Halmar Racing (Dirt Modifieds)
Halmar Racing has been impressive in 2017. Led by Stewart Friesen, the team has scored multiple victories in both Big-Block and Small-Block Modified racing, and both on and off the Super DIRTcar Series. In addition to their traditional Dirt Modified racing ventures, the team has also moved into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this year with the help of Tommy Baldwin, Jr.
Reserves By a Dozen:
Bubba Pollard – Has multiple victories in pavement SLM racing this year, and is also doing some more dirt Late Model racing as well.
Just Missed the Cut:
Reid Lanpher – Has scored a pair of PASS North wins as well as weekly racing wins at Oxford and Beech Ridge this year.
Justin Grant – Grant scored the victory in the Friday preliminary A-Main at the Chili Bowl for first-year team, Clauson-Marshall Racing.