One of the greatest features of the Speed51.com Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes is that it features drivers from many disciplines of racing. It’s not limited to Late Model racers. It’s not limited to pavement racers. The Short Track Draft truly features the top Short Track Racing prospects regardless of what or where they race.
The 2017 version of the Short Track Draft included Late Model racers, Modified drivers, Dirt racers, Open-Wheel racers and Stock Car drivers.
As we continue our analysis of the 2017 Short Track Draft, we’re going to take a look at the best drivers from each discipline. Last week, we took a look at the top drivers hailing from the dirt and Modified ranks. Today, we’re going to analyze the top drivers that compete in Stock Cars throughout North America.
Drivers in the Stock Car category qualified by racing in the ARCA Racing Series and both the East and West divisions of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series.
Keep in mind that not all Stock Car racers are eligible for the Short Track Draft. Drivers must be under the age of 25 as of April 1, 2017. Additionally, if they lose their rookie status in any of NASCAR’s top-three series by the end of the 2017 season, or if they run more than 10 races in one of NASCAR’s top three series, they are no longer eligible.
#1 – Todd Gilliland (Pick #1) – NASCAR K&N Pro Series West
To nobody’s surprise, the number-one overall pick in the draft is also the top prospect competing within the Stock Car ranks.
Gilliland scored seven victories during the 2016 season including six NASCAR K&N Pro Series West wins and one NASCAR K&N Pro Series East victory. He also claimed the 2016 K&N West championship during his rookie season. He is on track for a possible repeat in 2017 winning three of the first four K&N West races.
#2 – Harrison Burton (Pick #2) – NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
While known primarily for his performances in Super Late Models, Burton will once again compete full-time on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East circuit. During the last month, Burton has turned consistency into victories in K&N East, winning two of the last three races.
#3 – Kyle Benjamin (Pick #6) – NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
Benjamin showed much potential at a young age with wins in the ARCA Racing Series, which helped him become the number-one pick in the 2013 Short Track Draft. During the 2014 and 2015 seasons, the wins did not come with his usual consistency. But that changed in 2016 when he led the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East in the win column with three victories, including the season finale at Dover.
Benjamin already has a series win in 2017 at Greenville Pickens Speedway (SC), but is only running a partial schedule. However, the part-time schedule does come with a big reason, as Benjamin has teamed with Joe Gibbs Racing for four races in the NASCAR XFINITY Series this season.
#4 – Austin Theriault (Pick #9) – ARCA Racing Series
Theriault, who didn’t begin racing until he was 13 years old, has been on a rollercoaster ride during his young racing career. He has experienced the thrill of winning big races like the PASS 300 at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (ME) and the agony of experiencing an injury that sidelined him during what could have been the prime of his career.
Now, he’s back and arguably better than ever with plans to run a full season for Ken Schrader Racing in the ARCA Racing Series. He kicked off the year with a big win on the big stage at Daytona International Speedway (FL) and current sits atop the ARCA points standings.
#5 – Zane Smith (Pick #12) – ARCA Racing Series
His three PASS South wins and a runner-up finish at the Snowball Derby in 2015 had our experts giving Smith high praises one year ago. But since that time, he has struggled to get to Victory Lane.
This year, Smith is planning to run the majority of the ARCA Racing Series schedule with Venturini Motorsports.
#6 – Dalton Sargeant (Pick #13) – ARCA Racing Series
Sargeant collected a win in the ARCA series and PASS South Series last season, but his season was also combined with a lot of bad luck. He has gotten off to a solid start in 2017, collecting a win at Salem Speedway and placing in the top ten in two other races this season.
#7 – Derek Kraus (Pick #17) – NASCAR K&N Pro Series West
Derek Kraus may not be the number-one pick in the 2017 Short Track Draft, but he still has a claim to fame as the youngest driver selected in the top 20 and the youngest Late Model driver making the top 10. Although he has yet to light the world on fire on the race track, the future is bright for the 15 year old.
In 2016, just a few days after his 15th birthday, Kraus made history as the youngest driver to ever win a race on the highly-competitive ARCA Midwest Tour.
He will run the 2017 season with Bill McAnally Racing, in the first four NASCAR K&N Pro Series West races he has collected two top five’s and sits fifth in points.
#8-Dillon Bassett (Pick #25) – NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
From the time he stepped into any kind of race car, Bassett has been a beast, winning many races in Bandoleros and moving up to do the same in Late Model Stocks, particularly in 2014. In 2015, he caught the attention of the NASCAR world with a strong first win at Motordrome Speedway (PA) in his family-owned race car.
Things appeared to come crashing down in 2016 when the family shop and cars burned to the ground, but Bassett kept going. He completed a majority of the schedule the rest of the season and is back stronger as ever in 2017, showing a true sense of dedication to the sport.
#9-Tyler Dippel (Pick #36) – NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
Tyler Dippel is another drivers who has made the transition from dirt to asphalt with hopes of pursing a career in NASCAR. He scored one NASCAR K&N Pro Series East victory at Mobile (AL) in 2016, but hasn’t been as strong early on in the 2017 season while driving for Ranier Racing.
#10 – Ronnie Bassett, Jr. (Pick #40) – NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
With Ronnie just making the cut, the Bassett brothers represent 20% of the top 10 in this category. Like Dillon, Ronnie is a driver who simply does whatever it takes to get the job done behind the wheel. He kicked off the 2017 with a big NASCAR K&N Pro Series East win at New Smyrna Speedway (FL).
-Text by Speed51.com Staff. Photo credit: Sal Sigala, Jr.