Each year, Speed51.com nominates a handful of drivers, tracks, social media accounts, websites, photos and more for fans to vote on and choose which one was their favorite for that year in the annual 51’s presented by JEGS on Speed51.com.
The winner of the Short Track Local Driver of the Year category for 2016 is a bit of a surprise. One might have expected one of the last two NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champions to take the crown, but this year that wasn’t the case. This year, the title of Short Track Local Driver of the Year belongs to the 55-year-old school teacher/Big Block Dirt Modified driver Kenny Tremont from New York.
Tremont picked up 17 total wins in 2016, including three wins and 12 top-10 finishes in 14 starts at Vermont’s Devil’s Bowl Speedway, a track at which he owns seven track championships on both the dirt and the asphalt. Tremont also picked up multiple wins at New York’s Albany-Saratoga Speedway and finished fourth in points in 2016. Tremont also scored 11 total wins at Lebanon Valley Speedway (NY). Nine of those wins came in the Small-Block Modified division in which he scored the championship. He picked up two Big-Block wins there and finished second to Brett Hearn in points.
But a big part of what won this award for Tremont is his likability. When Tremont shows up to the race track he said that he wants to race people the way he wants to be raced.
Finishing runner-up to Tremont was Wisconsin Super Late Model driver Casey Johnson who picked up multiple wins at Slinger Speedway (WI) and Rockford Speedway (IL) in 2016. Two Modified drivers finished third and fourth in the voting. Massachusetts native Jon McKennedy and Connecticut SK Modified ace Keith Rocco were up next followed by 410 Sprint Car driver Greg Hodnett who finished fifth in the voting.
In the 2015 edition of the 51’s, Tremont was left off the ballot for Short Track Local Driver of the Year. Leaving Tremont off the ballot led to a story titled “Kenny Tremont: The Forgotten Man No Longer.” It was a serious oversight on the part of the 51 staff, one that we made sure not to make a second year in a row.
Tremont’s fans made sure that he was not forgotten either as Tremont won by a large margin over Johnson to become this year’s Short Track Local Driver of the Year.
One big surprise in the voting for Short Track Local Driver of the Year was the missing presence of three-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champion Lee Pulliam. Pulliam had won this award three years in a row dating back to 2013. NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver Ryan Preece was the first Short Track Local Driver of the Year in 2012.
Speed51.com will continue to announce winners of The 51’s presented by JEGS throughout this week.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Daryl Canfield/Speed51.com